• For the last few seasons most of the talk surrounding the Boston Celtics has been about their ability and desire to pull off a big trade.  Every arbitrary deadline reached breeds new discussions and rehashed criticism for Danny Ainge.  Many were left surprised when Boston couldn’t trade their top-3 pick this summer, and were even more surprised to see them take Jaylen Brown when many thought that Kris Dunn was the better trade asset.

    It seems that the narrative has been pushed so much that we forget to acknowledge the possibility that Boston may not feel the urgency to make a trade that we feel for them.  When Ainge was discussing trades with other teams, he probably got a good sense of what player held the most value.  If that truly was Dunn, then the negativity surrounding the pick may be entirely unwarranted.

    What better proof is there that Boston isn’t as interested in a trade as we think? They clearly like Brown, and they weren’t willing to let him pass unless a great opportunity presented itself. And had they picked Dunn, it could have made a trade more of a priority than it needs to be.  The Celtics already have more guards than they can play, so adding another means that you’ll need to make a trade sooner or later.

    Maybe the Celtics shouldn’t be pressured into making a trade.  The irony in all of this is that most of the assets that they have came from other teams trying to build too quickly.  There’s no way Brooklyn thought that these picks would be in the top-5, or even in the lottery.  Dallas had an amazing offense when they traded for Rajon Rondo, and then lost him for nothing at the end of the season, and failed to make any sort of progress in the playoffs.

    Without a doubt the Mavericks would love to have Jae Crowder back (among others), and Brooklyn would absolutely want their picks back after failing to do much of anything with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.

    So after watching these other franchises fail in their attempts to speed up the building process, why speed up their own? There is certainly a point where Boston will want to condense some of these assets into a superstar talent, but why does that time need to be now?

    Al Horford will be in Boston for quite a while, and the team has Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder on two of the best contracts in the league.  Bradley will be far more expensive in two years, but even then the team may feel that Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown or RJ Hunter can step in and take his spot.

    With their current cap space, there’s no reason to think that the team can’t chase big free agents next summer as well.  Boston is definitely a market big enough to attract top players if the team can prove that they’re good enough, and adding Horford this summer could be exactly what they need to get into the Conference Finals.

    If the Celtics choose this route, then they still have valuable assets to pull off a trade for an all-star level player, and if they’re able to get one in free agency as well, then we could be looking at them as one of the best teams in the NBA, and an easy title contender.

    If they need even more motivation to wait, then they can look at how the current NBA landscape has been formed.  While the Thunder never won a title with Kevin Durant, their team was built almost exclusively through the draft.  Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Serge Ibaka were all first round picks for the team, and players like James Harden and Reggie Jackson were drafted by the team and subsequently traded for other pieces.

    The Warriors, as many of us have been made painfully aware, were also built largely through the draft, and that’s partially what enabled them to get Kevin Durant the way that they did.  It would be hard at this point to argue that the Cavaliers were built entirely through the draft, but Kyrie Irving was their own first round pick, and having LeBron James changes the way that a franchise operates.

    If Boston chooses to make a trade for a superstar this summer, they could be an incredibly dangerous team, but the fact is, it doesn’t have to be now. Many assets are overvalued this time of year, so trades can be hard to come by.  Being patient is what gave them the team and the assets they have now, and being patient could be what gives them sustained success down the road.


Fantasy News

  • Nikola Vucevic - C - Orlando Magic

    Per Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News, the Mavs like how Nikola Vucevic fits alongside Kristaps Porzingis, but his expected salary would cost too much for the Mavs to sign.

    The Mavs will enter free agency with a ton of cap space, but after the expected max contract that they'll extend to Porzingis, they may be more inclined to spread the wealth around or target Kemba Walker than committing a max contract to Vucevic. Vucevic had a career year as an All-Star for the Magic this past season, but his next destination remains a crapshoot.

    Source: Dallas News

  • Jimmy Butler - SG - Philadelphia Sixers

    Per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Rockets' ideal plan in free agency is to get Jimmy Butler by a sign-and-trade deal with the Sixers.

    Butler is going to be a sought after commodity once free agency opens as the Sixers, Lakers, and others are also going to be looking to ink him to a long-term deal. Butler regained his level back to max contract level after his play during the playoffs this season. The Rockets don't have any cap space to sign Butler outright, so they'll have to get a commitment from him to take a pay cut, while also getting the Sixers to agree to help facilitate a deal. This is going to be interesting.

    Source: ESPN

  • Khem Birch - C - Orlando Magic

    The Magic have extended qualifying offers to C Khem Birch and F Amile Jefferson, rendering both restricted free agents ahead of free agency which is set to begin on June 30th.

    Birch, who averaged 4.8 points and 3.8 rebounds in just 12.9 minutes per game this past season, is seemingly a priority for the Magic to bring back, and now they'll get the opportunity to match any contracts he may fetch from other teams. Jefferson was in the G-League for the majority of the season, where he was very productive. Both may take on larger roles, should they stay with the Magic, as star C Nikola Vucevic is an unrestricted free agent.

    Source: Magic PR on Twitter

  • JR Smith - SG - Cleveland Cavaliers

    According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports, the Lakers could eventually take a look at signing J.R. Smith should he be released by the Cavs, or traded and bought out by another team.

    Smith is likely to become a free agent one way or the other by the end of the month, and the Lakers will be looking at cheap floor-spacers to fill out their roster. Smith and LeBron James are familiar with one another after winning a championship together with the Cavs, and it looks like Smith to the Lakers is a real possibility.

    Source: Chris Haynes on Twitter

  • Kristaps Porzingis - PF - Dallas Mavericks

    Shams Charania of The Athletic is reporting that the Mavs will meet with restricted free agent Kristaps Porzingis (torn ACL) once free agency opens on June 30th, and the team will offer him the full five-year, $158 million max contract.

    This was expected ever since the Mavs traded for Porzingis mid-season while he recovered from his knee injury. Porzingis is fully expected to sign with the Mavs and become reigning ROY Luka Doncic's running mate for the foreseeable future.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Jordan Clarkson - PG - Cleveland Cavaliers

    Cavs combo guard Jordan Clarkson changed agents and signed with Klutch Sports and Rich Paul.

    Clarkson is likely to be a trade target for competitive teams ahead of next year's trade deadline, as a quality player on an expiring contract. Clarkson will enter free agency next offseason looking for the best deal possible.

    Source: Joe Vardon on Twitter

  • Julius Randle - PF - New Orleans Pelicans

    Per Marc Spears of The Undefeated, Pelicans forward Julius Randle and the Knicks have mutual interest as free agency approaches.

    The Pelicans drafted their PF of the future in Zion Williamson last week, and will seemingly let Randle walk in free agency as they are unlikely to pay him what he deserves. After a productive finish with the Lakers in 2017-18, Randle had to settle for a one-year deal from the Pelicans last summer. After another productive season on an expiring contract, it looks like at least one franchise is ready to invest in Randle as their PF of the future. Randle averaged 21.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 0.9 threes to boot this past season and makes for a good mid-round selection in drafts next season if he finds himself in a similar role.

    Source: The Undefeated

  • Andre Iguodala - SF - Golden State Warriors

    Speaking about Kevin Durant's injury situation during this year's playoffs, Andre Iguodala said that he fractured his left leg against the Rockets in the 2018-19 playoffs and the Warriors listed him out with a "left lateral leg contusion.”

    There has been a lot of smoke in regards to how the Warriors dealt with Durant's injury, as it did not appear to be as minor as the team led the public to believe when he injured himself backpedaling after a made basket. A non-contact injury is always a major red flag, but the Warriors called Durant's initial injury a "first-grade calf strain," which is the lowest graded injury designation. Weeks later, when Durant rushed back to help his team out of a 3-1 Finals deficit, he fully ruptured his Achilles in only 12 minutes of action. This is all just speculation, but this revelation from the 2015 NBA Finals MVP is an alarming development for a franchise who could seemingly do no wrong the past half-decade. The league may take a deep-dive into these claims soon enough.

    Source: NBC Sports

  • D'Angelo Russell - PG - Brooklyn Nets

    The Lakers, who are also working towards setting up meetings with a defensive specialist and a floor-spacer, have a set meeting with D'Angelo Russell when free agency opens.

    The Lakers drafted Russell at #2 overall in the 2015 NBA draft and subsequently traded him to the Nets a few years ago as a way to get Timofey Mozgov's horrendous contract off their books. He has since blossomed into an All-Star selection this past season as the leader of the Nets' push back into relevancy. It's not out of the realm of possibility that Russell and the Lakers would mend their previous relationship, but it remains to be seen if anything will come of it. If it is any consolation to Russell, Magic Johnson, the man who traded Russell to the Nets, is no longer with the team.

    Source: Fred Robbins on Twitter

  • Mitch Kupchak - Team - Charlotte Hornets

    In what will play a major role in all personnel decisions, the Hornets are determined to avoid the luxury tax next season, per Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer.

    If true, then this will have a major effect on free agency as the Hornets are unlikely to extend the supermax to Kemba Walker this summer. While Walker has said publicly that he is willing to take less than the supermax, it would be hard to see him stay with the Hornets for anything less as he is sure to garner interest from many teams with much better odds at competing for a title. The Lakers, Mavs, and Celtics are just a few of the many teams that will be looking into Walker once free agency opens up, and they all have brighter presents or futures ahead than the Hornets current outlook. There have been rumbles that Walker would head elsewhere next season for a few weeks now, and this report adds even more smoke to the fire. Free agency opens in less than a week.