It turns out that hoarding assets and a ton of "almost trades"
may not be the best approach to build a franchise. The Boston
Celtics are in the midst of suffering the ramifications of such an
Boston has played the third-most games that come down to "clutch
time," just one behind the Los Angeles Lakers and two behind the
Milwaukee Bucks. They have won just 9 of those 26 games. Their .346
win percentage in clutch situations is only better than the Indiana
Pacers, Orlando Magic and San Antonio Spurs; three teams you do not
want to be in the same company as this season if you have serious
It is hard to imagine that a team with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen
Brown, two undeniable stars, could be currently a half-game from
not even making the Play-In Tournament. The Cs still have Marcus
Smart with an emerging Robert Williams for their defensive needs,
but the rest of the roster just does not make sense.
Bryan Fonseca took a dive into the Tatum-Brown
pairing, and he'll join me on this quest to solve this riddle
that is the currenly-spiraling Boston Celtics. I will explore the
need for a point guard in Part I, while Bryan addressed the frontcourt in
Dennis Schroder and the Celtics were a marriage of neccesity
rather than pure desire. Schroder bet on himself, leaving the best
he ever had to look for even better, only to find out he made a
mistake. Swiping through NBA Free Agency Tinder, the Celtics and
Schroder matched because they both had a void to fill. After
trading Kemba Walker to the Oklahoma City Thunder for a reunion
with Al Horford, newly-named president Brad Stevens had only Smart
and Payton Pritchard on the roster to run the point.
Boston had an All-Star point guard for three straight seasons,
and then, last year, Walker was often injured, which led to his
departure. Going from big-name point guards to unproven floor
generals, the Celtics gave Schroder a prove-it deal. But all it has
proved so far is that he is not a fit to lead this team at the
As a matter of fact, Schroder is not really fit to be the lead
point guard on any team. The best seasons of his career arguably
came as a backup to Jeff Teague in Atlanta. Once the Teague era
ended, the Hawks, and Schroder's value, fell off a cliff.
In 2015-16, the final year of Teague, Schroder carried a
plus-7.5 Net Rating along with his career-best Defensive Rating of
95.9. In those two following seasons as the lead guard in Atlanta,
Schroder was an overall minus-8.2 with an average DRTG of
When Schroder returned to backup duty in Oklahoma City for both
Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul, his NET jumped up to plus-3.6 and
Looking from the lens of plus-minus, 4 of his 5 worst seasons
are his rookie campaign and every year he was the primary point
guard. The evidence is there: He's not built to lead a team that
Through trial and error, the Celtics now know that, and are
reportedly open to moving him (and other veterans) elsewhere to
open up time for their young guys. So where/who do they turn to?
Smart at the point alongside Brown, Tatum, Al Horford and Williams
is a plus-17.6 NET with 324 total possessions per Cleaning the
Glass. But can the group get it done in the fourth quarter?
If Ime Udoka and Stevens believe they can, then moves should be
made to ensure the team's depth on the bench. If not, the Celtics
need grab a floor general off the trade market. Here are some
Tyus Jones is arguably the best backup point guard in the NBA
and the current leader in Assist-to-Turnover ratio among qualified
players (5.40). The Grizzlies are who they are in large part due to
his ability to run the bench unit, but also hold the fort down if
Ja Morant misses time.
So, why would Memphis do this? Well, the Grizzlies are not
pressured to win the title this year. General manager Zach Kleiman
has danced to the beat of his own drum, and will not accelerate his
timeline simply because the team is ahead of schedule. Morant is
due a rookie-scale max extension, and the Grizzlies will almost
certainly have to fork over a near max to Desmond Bane when that
time comes. On top of that, Jaren Jackson Jr. is already on the
books for a $100 million extension, so money is tight in
Kleiman is all about cashing in his assets; Memphis can't afford
to pay Jones, so he could very well seek compensation now rather
than let him walk in the offseason for nothing. Tyus will almost
certainly be a starting point guard for someone next season, so
Boston should look here first.
Memphis gets some expiring money back and a protected
first-round pick for a player that would significantly help
Boston's post season push. (It should be noted that Memphis may
also try to get a hometown discount with Jones and keep him this
Speaking of the Grizzlies, they once traded Chandler Parsons to
the Atlanta Hawks for Solomon Hill and Miles Plumlee. A genius
financial move by Memphis. Kleiman broke down the Parsons contract
into two easier-to-move contracts to get Parsons off the books.
The motivation for Houston here would be similar. Schroder is an
expiring deal that the Rockets could buy out immediately, while
Horford could be shipped to a third team to be broken down even
This issue with this trade on the Celtics' side is that Josh
Richardson has been good for them, and while you upgrade the point
guard position, the wing depth takes a hit. This is an all-in move
for Boston that would most certainly be followed by either a trade
for another wing or picking up a wing on the buyout market.
What does John Wall look like? Does he fit with Tatum and Brown?
These are the questions that must be answered for this idea to even
be kicked around. It's a rather unlikely scenario, but the market
for quality point guards is quite dry.
Here is your home-run swing. Bryan and I could not think of
another available point guard (Malcolm Brogdon is ineligible to be
moved) for Boston to pursue, so he mentioned this as a big swing.
It may very well take more than two protected first-round picks —
whether that is more picks or someone like Aaron Nesmith. The Spurs
most likely have no interest in moving Murray this season, but for
the right price, who knows.
This would be a massive deal for the Celtics. They would get a
perfect point guard to play alongside Tatum, Brown and Smart, as
well as a veteran in Thaddeus Young, who is still waiting to pounce on an
opportunity to play after a solid year in Chicago. Young is
almost certainly going to be moved, and if the Celtics could land
him with Murray, Boston — while not becoming title favorites —
could fight its way out of the Play-In Tournament.
Danny Ainge is no longer at the helm, so what will Stevens do in
his first season running the show? This roster clearly needs an
immediate makeover, and it starts with repairing the point guard
Read Part II of this series, where
Bryan Fonseca addressed the Celtics' frontcourt options in the
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