As MassLive's Brian Robb explains, there was a specific reason the Boston Celtics guaranteed the contracts of Dalano Banton, Luke Kornet, Svi Mykhailiuk, and Lamar Stevens ahead of the January 10 decision date to do so: to set up a corresponding move ahead of the February 8 trade deadline.
"The fact their contracts are guaranteed now does not mean they will finish their seasons in Boston though a source tells MassLive," Robb prefaced before saying, "The Celtics could still elect to package several minimum salaries and another player(s) to make a deal for a player who would not fit into the $6.2 million Grant Williams trade exception. Stevens and Mykhailiuk’s salaries could be valuable tools on that front whereas waiving them this weekend would have made salary matching in that type of deal even tougher for Stevens.
"Ultimately, multiple league sources have indicated to MassLive that the Celtics are strongly expected to make some kind of move ahead of the trade deadline. Keeping the team’s roster fully intact now past the guarantee deadline keeps more potential opportunities open for getting a deal done to bolster the back end of the roster."
Boston Celtics must explore big man addition, ahead of 2024 trade deadline
This writer used to think that the big man position could be maintained by Kornet and Neemias Queta, but the fact of the matter is that the latter is still too green to be relied on by the green, and the former is clearly not the answer -- because if he was, he wouldn't have had any suspense when it came to his contract being guaranteed in his fourth season with the team, and second consecutive full season.
That Boston has four players they don't plan on keeping long-term shows how deprived this franchise is of meaningful bench pieces beyond Al Horford, Payton Pritchard, and Sam Hauser. Given Horford's age and Kristaps Porzingis's injury-proneness, a big man may be the most important addition to explore ahead of the deadline. Oshae Brissett may just be the big wing Stevens recently declared the Cs need, and the ball-handler rotation being just three deep is acceptable considering the dearth of minutes in the backcourt behind big minutes-getters Derrick White and Jrue Holiday, and Pritchard.