The 2020-21 season was not the step forward Boston Celtics fans were hoping for after falling short in the Eastern Conference finals two of the last three years, including a 2019-20 season that challenged the league in ways thought to be unfathomable previously.
This is the most frustrating step: the proverbial “leap” if you will. There were only two steps up for the Cs to make, and both of them included the phrase “champion”. It’s been 11 years since Celtics fans got to watch their team in the NBA Finals, the second-longest drought in the history of the franchise.
This isn’t the 1990’s teams that lost their two cornerstones to unthinkable tragedies and never recovered from the pain. After the sudden and heartbreaking fashion of Len Bias’ overdose and Reggie Lewis’ passing due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, Boston underwent a dark period that ended when Paul Pierce got the superstar running mates he needed.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are just about at peak-Pierce levels `now, and Kemba Walker is a worthy third wheel…when healthy.
That last caveat could be the key to a potential Walker deal, but the Cs have other means of acquiring a star. Their $28.5 million trade exception is their primary bait to reel in a big fish, and aggregating bigger role player salaries like Tristan Thompson, Daniel Theis, Romeo Langford with future draft capital to acquire an impact support player.
There is also the nuclear option of dealing Marcus Smart’s $13 million salary. But HH doesn’t like to go there, especially since the struggles truly started this season when he strained his calf.
However a deal gets done, the Cs seem to be in the hunt for one. The Boston Celtics have been linked to a number of the top names on the trade market.
But which names could actually land in Beantown? The Houdini is buying and selling the latest trade rumors: