The perfect offseason trade partner for the Boston Celtics shares the Atlantic Division and has always been seen as a rival, though not one on the same level as the Cs: the New York Knicks.
This offseason ought to be a busy one for the Boston Celtics.
Three first-round draft picks, mining veteran free agents, and being busy in the trade market should give Danny Ainge plenty of sleepless nights as he builds what the city known as “Title Town” hopes is the perfect response to the Los Angeles Lakers winning their record-tying 17th NBA Championship down in the Lake Buena Vista bubble from Walt Disney World’s Wide World of Sports complex.
When it comes to blockbuster moves, the primary source of excitement in the coming months should come via the trade market. While Ainge could end up getting into trade wars against fellow contenders with all of the assets he possesses, one singular roster-consolidating move is the more likely outcome if that’s where he takes things at all.
That deal should happen with the New York Knicks. Here are 3 reasons why:
1. New York represents a chance to move up in the draft
The Knicks own the #8 pick in the NBA Draft, and there are reports the team may be interested in moving back in the draft:
According to two league sources, the Knicks are seriously mulling trading back in the Nov. 18 draft unless big man James Wiseman or point guard LaMelo Ball fall back to the eighth spot. It’s become increasingly clear the Knicks’ top priority, Ball, is unlikely to slide. Wiseman, the athletic 7-foot-1 center from Memphis, has seen some mock-draft fluctuations. However, most NBA draft sources believe it’s improbable Wiseman will make it to No. 8, leaving the Knicks in a quandary.
At No. 8, the Knicks have staged internal talks about swapping back with a team in the Nos. 12-15 range to gain a young player in his rookie contract while still making a lottery pick. One player who’s been on their radar as a late-lottery guy is combo guard Tyrese Maxey, a one-and-doner from Kentucky.
Coincidentally, the Boston Celtics fall in the 12-15 right at #14. These two teams may be a match made in heaven since the Cs need quality over quantity in this year’s draft over finding the latter in the 2019 NBA Draft.
2. The Knicks own several undervalued buy-low prospects
At this point, the Celtics need to cut costs with future moves. Spending over $100 million on Gordon Hayward, Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart, and Jaylen Brown–with Jayson Tatum due for a supermax extension in the next year–makes every transaction tricky in regards to the salary cap.
Luckily, the Knicks own cost-controlled players like Kevin Knox and Frank Ntilikina who may be eligible to be had for cheap because of how badly mismanaged their development has been by the Knicks’ multiple coaching regimes the pair played for.
3. New York would likely overpay for a hometown savior like Kemba Walker
Walker’s knee woes suffered this past season and throughout his career was a contributing factor in the Charlotte Hornets not wanting to hand him a five-year max contract in 2019 free agency. The extent of his injuries is somewhat concerning, given the remaining three seasons left on his $141 million commitment last offseason:
Walker’s left knee has been a concern throughout his career. He had three minor arthroscopic procedures on that knee before joining the Celtics and he had his knee drained earlier this year when it flared up after the All-Star game. According to Ainge, there doesn’t appear to be another in Walker’s future.
Cutting bait now would be the wisest long-term move from Danny Ainge, even if it would be a temporary disruption to a Boston Celtics team that built amazing chemistry throughout the past year. If the focus of the team is to build around Tatum and Brown, this would set the team up for a bright future, and bolster the depth of the team in the interim, of course at the expense of their core.