Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes recently penned a piece titled ‘5 Panic Trades NBA Fans Already Want to See,’ and if the deal he crafted involving the Boston Celtics were to come to fruition, there’d be quite a number of happy green-sporting NBA fans in the New England area and elsewhere.
Given the C’s latest victory over the Washington Wizards — a 112-94 romp at home that was essentially a wire-to-wire beatdown — there may not be a need to hit the panic button quite yet in Boston.
Still, the two losses to the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers that preceded it points to potential problems at the pivot position until Robert Williams III returns from arthroscopic knee surgery in December or January.
Hughes’ proposed deal would see the Boston Celtics swap a protected 2024 first-round pick for Charlotte Hornets big man P.J. Washington, an impending restricted free agent once the 2022-23 NBA campaign concludes:
"“Set to hit restricted free agency this summer and perhaps not quite a playoff-caliber defender, Washington isn’t good enough to justify the Celtics surrendering an unprotected first-rounder. But with Robert Williams III potentially missing significant time following another knee surgery in September, Al Horford in his age-36 season and Danilo Gallinari likely to miss the whole year, Boston needs competent bodies up front. Grant Williams’ recent one-game suspension only further emphasized the lack of depth.”“The Celtics can afford to be patient, but not forever. Horford is at a stage of his career where his minutes should be carefully managed if there’s to be any hope of him holding up in the playoffs. He’s too important to Boston’s big-picture goals to run into the ground in October. Fans interested in the Celtics entering the postseason with as high a seed as possible should be uncomfortable with some combination of Blake Griffin, Noah Vonleh and Luke Kornet picking up the rotation slack.”"
The Boston Celtics should look to do a deal like this
This exact iteration of a potential P.J. Washington deal is actually impossible due to the Stepien Rule. Given that the Boston Celtics traded their 2023 first-round pick away in the Malcolm Brogdon deal with the Indiana Pacers, they cannot trade their 2024 first. Swap in their 2025 pick and this deal would be a go.
Even if the Cs didn’t land P.J. Washington, though, pursuing a rotational big man at this stage would bolster the frontcourt exponentially. While Noah Vonleh, Luke Kornet, and Blake Griffin are doing a fine job bridging the gap between now and the return of Robert Williams III, ensuring the team has an option capable of starting should ‘The Timelord’ go down again or if something were to happen to 36-year-old Al Horford would be the surest way to insure this team’s durability.
In terms of players who don’t fit snugly into any of Boston’s TPEs like Washington does and would require Danilo Gallinari’s dead money deal plus salary filler, Jakob Poeltl, Dwight Powell, and Richaun Holmes are all options, though the Dallas Mavericks may be too good to consider such a deal unless they registered serious interest in Payton Pritchard.
Either way, the Boston Celtics should consider a deal like this if their big man problems persist.