Which big wings could Celtics target at NBA trade deadline? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The NBA trade deadline is 10 days away. Many of the Boston Celtics’ rivals in the Eastern Conference have already started tweaking their rosters and another flurry of activity should arrive before the February 8 buzzer.
Will the Celtics sit tight or add some depth for the stretch run? Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens said earlier this month that a big wing would be a priority. And while Oshae Brissett has responded well to an increased role in the aftermath, there will be outside options for Boston to consider.
The difficulty: The Celtics have limited resources to add to a team that’s already committed heavy money in the quest for Banner 18. Still, Stevens has a $6.2 million Grant Williams traded player exception, an open roster spot, and a well-stocked collection of draft picks to help facilitate moves.
First, a reminder that anyone currently making north of the non-taxpayer midlevel exception ($12.4 million) is unable to be signed by an apron team like Boston on the buyout market. There’s no way to shoehorn Gordon Hayward or someone similar into this conversation.
Here are a handful of players who fit the big wing mold. Some of these players might trend closer to pure big (or small wing), but all have some of the characteristics that Stevens might yearn to add to this roster.
Naji Marshall, New Orleans Pelicans
With the Pelicans in town Monday night, this feels like a good spot to start. ESPN front office insider Bobby Marks made a pitch for Boston to ponder Marshall in his trade guide and explained that choice on the Celtics Talk podcast last week.
The 6-foot-7 Marshall is logging 18.2 minutes per game in 37 appearances for the Pelicans. He’s shooting a career-best 37.6 percent on 3-pointers, but his biggest value might be as a sturdy presence on the defensive end.
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Marshall is holding opponents to a 43.3 defensive field goal percentage, or 3.7 percent below expected output. He’s logged some of his most matchup time this season against star players like De’Aaron Fox and Paul George (and had success in those matchups).
The Pelicans are fighting for a top-six spot in the West and already dipped below the luxury tax in previous maneuvering, meaning they don’t have to make a move. Boston could try to pry some depth by offering draft assets.
Marshall’s $1.9 million salary can easily be matched, or absorbed into the Williams TPE.
The underachieving Hawks have a tenuous grasp on the 10th seed through 46 games this season. Tough decisions loom for a team with no clear path to surging beyond the play-in tournament.
Bey, who was Atlanta’s hero in Sunday’s win over the Raptors, has struggled with the 3-point shot but brings size and physicality that could aid any playoff team. The Hawks are 4.5 points better with Bey on the court versus off. His $4.6 million contract fits into the Williams TPE and he’s in line for a $6.5 million qualifying offer to reach restricted free agency this summer.
The Celtics leaned Aaron Nesmith over Bey in the 2020 NBA Draft. Bey is a good rebounder and has played a career-high 35 percent of his minutes at the power forward spot this season, based on position estimates. The Hawks could pry some draft assets from a contender for his services.
The question that will persist with any big-wing acquisition: Would the Celtics trust Bey more in the playoffs than, say, Sam Hauser?
Opponents are shooting 51.1 percent against Bey this season, though Atlanta’s miserable team defense isn’t helping anyone’s individual marks. And Bey is down to 30.9 percent overall on 3-pointers this season, a steep downturn from the end of last season.
The Raptors, having already dealt Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby, have slipped to 12th in the East. Selling off parts and accumulating assets ought to be a priority.
Young, who will turn 36 in June, offers the sort of experience that might help him thrive as a depth option for a contender. He’s got nine years of playoff experience for four different teams.
Most importantly, he’s got a high basketball IQ and ability to eat up minutes at both big-man spots, which could be particularly enticing for a Celtics team that will need to pace fellow basketball octogenarian Al Horford, as well as Kristaps Porzingis, to the finish line of the season.
Young’s $8 million salary makes a deal tricky for Boston, at least without Toronto taking back a collection of end-of-the-roster contracts. A buyout would be a more agreeable post-deadline path if Young isn’t previously swooped up by a contender.
His addition would be a P.J. Brown-like addition for a championship-seeking team.
The Raptors have some other wings like Otto Porter Jr. and Jalen McDaniels who would fit into the Williams TPE.
Probably not available … but call us if they are
The Warriors probably should consider accumulating some future assets after slipping to 12th in the West. But given the age of their core, they’ll probably press on hoping to find some magic. Otherwise, Dario Saric would be the sort of versatile big that could really help Boston. …
The Rockets likely want Jeff Green to help steer a young team fighting for a play-in spot. He’s got championship experience after last season, and his $8 million salary isn’t easy to ingest. …
If the Grizzlies want to move forward/center Xavier Tillman before he hits free agency this summer, a contender rental isn’t the worst play. …
Forget Kelly Olynyk; he’s too expensive. But if the Jazz were willing to move Simone Fontecchi, he’ll be a restricted free agent this summer. …
Spurs wing Cedi Osman makes too much to fit into the Williams TPE, but he has the right blend of talent and experience. …
Health might be the only concern with Torrey Craig, who has been sidelined since mid-December with the Bulls, but can be a three-and-D guy on a contending team.
Probably available … but we’ll call you
Boston could add Mike Muscala for the second straight deadline and his familiarity would help a midstream addition. Alas, he wasn’t able to crack the playoff rotation for a less deep team a year ago. Like many players on this list, he’d surely help you navigate the rest of the regular season. …
John Konchar’s name has already been in the rumor mill, and he certainly fits the mold of a player the Celtics like. But is the Grizzlies wing pushing Hauser for playoff minutes?