The Boston Celtics’ rotation of bigs at the beginning of the season included a 36-year-old Al Horford, the not-so-big Grant Williams, and a steady stream of journeymen. But now that Robert Williams is back, the center position no longer seems to be a major concern. However, Boston could want to make a move for extra assistance at the spot, particularly in light of Williams’ most recent injury. That said, here we will look at the dream scenario that the Celtics are hoping for as we close in on the 2023 NBA trade deadline.
The Celtics have a strong team with the best offense in the league and elite-level defense. They currently have the league’s best win-loss record.
Boston should be a formidable opponent in the playoffs with their main rotation players healthy. However, they may look to make improvements to their roster by possibly trading some of their less-used players and draft assets. They may also consider trading players in order to save money and reduce their luxury tax liabilities. Remember that the team has a history of making aggressive moves under the leadership of Brad Stevens. As such, making a splash during the 2023 trade deadline isn’t entirely off the table.
With that said, let’s look at the Celtics’ dream scenario for the 2023 NBA trade deadline.
Celtics acquire either Jakob Poeltl
The Celtics have been the best team this season based on their winning percentage and net rating. They may choose not to participate in the trade deadline and instead focus on the buyout market. However, if they do decide to make a trade, they will likely prioritize adding depth to their frontcourt.
While they certainly benefit from having Williams and Horford up front, both players have injury histories. The team may then consider acquiring additional depth and an insurance policy in the person of Jakob Poeltl. Keep in mind that the Austrian big man has considerable defensive and rebounding skills. Take note, though, that this would likely be a costly move. Alternatively, they may look for a backup big such as Mo Bamba for his shooting range and athleticism. Maybe even someone like Bismack Biyombo can be considered for his energy and activity around the basket.
Assuming the Celtics want to swing for the fences, though, Poeltl should be their top target.
— TheColdWire.com (@thecoldwire) January 18, 2023
Remember that he has become a key player for the San Antonio Spurs since joining the team in the Kawhi Leonard trade. Poeltl is considered one of the top defenders in the league at the center position. He is known for his strong paint presence on both ends of the court. The 27-year-old currently makes $9.4 million. However, it is reported that he will likely command a salary of $20 million in free agency after turning down a 4-year $58 million extension offer.
Take note as well that the Celtics have been tracking Poeltl for a few years now. We know that along with other teams, the Celtics are still monitoring his market value.
The Spurs, meanwhile, have been seeking two first-round picks in any possible Jakob Poeltl deal. This is the same asking price they had for Derrick White last season. Recall that the Celtics were able to acquire White for the 25th pick in the most recent draft and a first-overall protected pick swap in 2028. However, the high asking price for Poeltl may be unrealistic as he is on an expiring contract. Again, we expect him to command a high salary in free agency.
Additionally, the Spurs have the financial flexibility to retain Poeltl and are unlikely to move him unless they receive an offer too good to pass up. At the same time, the Celtics may eventually not see Poeltl as a necessary addition. If he does come on board, he would likely be a backup center. He would come into a rotation already including Williams, Horford, and Luke Kornet. Honestly, Poeltl would be overqualified for a backup role. On the flip side, he could benefit from a limited role on a contender in a major market. That would give him an opportunity to showcase his ability to impact title contention and even increase his value in free agency.
Poeltl would look good in green and fit well in the Celtics’ roster. He can undoubtedly help them in their title journey. However, just exactly how much would Boston want to give up for him?