The Boston Celtics are not trading any members of their core before the start of the 2022-23 season, and quite frankly, they have no good reason to even explore doing so from now until then — or even in the months that follow.
If the Cs struggle out of the gate, there’d be some built-in excuses that would be valid. Joe Mazzulla didn’t know he’d be the head coach until a month before opening night and starting center Robert Williams is out of the lineup for until January at the earliest.
Now, if things fall off the rails and never recover by midseason? Perhaps there will be some uncomfortable conversations to be had at that point. This autumn’s Ime Udoka drama could do more damage than people realize if the team doesn’t look the same as the post-January 2021-22 Cs.
In the worst case scenario that does happen, NBA Analysis Network’s James Piercey has revealed a mock trade proposal that wraps in another franchise that could be in danger of falling from Finals runner-up to cautionary tale, the Phoenix Suns. The mock deal would send popular trade target Jaylen Brown straight up for Devin Booker in a 1-for-1 swap.
Would the Boston Celtics do it?
This is a tough one. On one hand, Jaylen Brown looks like he’s set to have his best season yet. It wouldn’t shock the Houdini at all to see No. 7 steal the spotlight from Jayson Tatum, which already started during this past June’s NBA Finals.
On another, if he starts to get sick of the fact that the team was willing to guarantee Tatum’s place in the organizational hierarchy — remember, he was drafted with a top 3 pick a full year before Tatum was — there are far worse returns than Devin Booker.
Booker will never be the on-ball defender Brown is, and his offensive ceiling may not even be that much higher. At this point, he’s a more proven commodity, though. A straight up swap for a player who has shown more in his career thus far would hardly be a gaffe in the short-term. Watching Brown become a generational great would make it quite hard to swallow this pill in the long-term.
It’s unclear if Phoenix would even do this deal without the inclusion of draft picks from Boston’s side. That should kill any theoretical deal for Boston Celtics President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens on the spot.