That was not how the Boston Celtics wanted to go out. Everything had lined up for them to make it back to the NBA Finals, including the eighth-seeded Miami Heat knocking off the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks. Take down an injured Heat team playing above its head, the Boston is back in the Finals for the second season in a row.
They couldn’t make it easy on themselves, going down 3-0 in the series, but by ramping up the defensive intensity and cutting down on mistakes they came roaring back to tie the series 3-3 and go back to a Game 7. Suddenly, a historic comeback was at their fingertips, and this team would have its place in history.
Then Game 7 happened, and the Celtics wilted in the path of the Heat’s shot-making. With Jayson Tatum injuring his ankle in the opening seconds, Boston needed Jaylen Brown to step up. Brown, who was too often a wallflower in these playoffs, took the ball and…proceeded to fumble it away, and with it the Celtics’ season. Brown had a whopping eight turnovers in Game 7, and had 25 total for the series.
Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum might not be enough for the Boston Celtics
The Celtics have won a lot of games with the combination of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, and have been to four different Eastern Conference Finals and one NBA Finals. Yet this loss, and truly the entire playoff run, has called that pairing into question. Jaylen Brown is now eligible for a Supermax contract extension, and if both Brown and Tatum sign those over the next couple of years, the Celtics will be impossibly expensive just as the new CBA comes into effect and harshly penalizes expensive teams.
When the Boston Celtics needed a playmaker to step up and create shots, they didn’t have anyone to answer the call. Marcus Smart is a wing, just like Brown and Tatum. Derrick White and Malcolm Brogdon, the Celtics’ two other guards, combined for one assist. The Celtics have shooters, they have defenders, they have scorers, but they don’t have an elite on-ball playmaker who can create shots for himself and for others.
Let’s bring this to its eventual conclusion. The Boston Celtics went out in a painful fashion, and they can’t trust anyone on the roster to meet that playmaking need. Jaylen Brown is going to be punitively expensive very soon. The most logical course of action is to trade Brown for a point guard to give the Celtics a fresh look heading into next season.
With that plan in mind, here are five All-Star point guards for the Celtics to consider trading Jaylen Brown for. We are leaving out those players who obviously won’t be available to trade (Stephen Curry, Tyrese Haliburton, etc), those who have made All-Star Games but the Celtics won’t trade for (Chris Paul) and pending free agents, as the Celtics can’t execute a sign-and-trade given their salary situation.
We begin in Atlanta, with a point guard who might just be ready for a change of scenery himself.