The Boston Celtics are a legitimate title-contending team that would benefit from a big man and the San Antonio Spurs would love their draft assets.
For as long as I can remember, Danny Ainge has been hoarding draft picks and using them to swing at prospects. Some of them hit and others don’t but at this point in the process, there’s no need for them to keep using all of these picks. Instead, Ainge could be poised to make a trade with the San Antonio Spurs for one year of LaMarcus Aldridge without much risk.
It’s plain to see that Boston’s weakest position is Center. They have a wide variance of players to man the perimeter at positions two through four and have an All-NBA point guard running the show, but the center position is less proven. Ainge doesn’t need to part ways with either of the guys who run center by committee currently to bring Aldridge in.
Instead, he’ll need to part ways with a draft pick that his team’s been scouting for years now — the Memphis Grizzlies’ 2020 NBA Draft selection. The pick that turned into Ja Morant was supposed to be theirs last season, but clearly that didn’t go in their favor. That selection is finally going to translate and this time, it’s outside of the lottery. By trading the last year of the third wing in their rotation, the Celtics can keep the ball in the right player’s hands and add a stout two-way presence to their frontcourt rotation.
The Boston Celtics give up the Memphis Grizzlies’ 2020 first-round pick, Gordon Hayward and Semi Ojeleye to the San Antonio Spurs for LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Gay.
The kicker here is that all of the players involved are in contract years next season. None of the teams involved have to give up too much long-term investment to make this deal — especially when factoring in that Boston’s cap sheet is incredibly daunting for the years ahead. By bringing along Gordon Hayward, the San Antonio Spurs have a backup plan for their rotation.
If DeRozan walks, Hayward can make his life easier. If he stays, the two can share the floor and complement each other with great all-handling skills and fundamental understandings of the sport. For only one season, Hayward can fill the gap for the Spurs as they shift priorities toward building a better roster for the future.
This is why the main takeaway from the deal would be getting Semi Ojeleye and that first-round pick. Currently projected at 17th, there are a lot of interesting prospects who could fit for the Spurs in that range. Josh Green, Patrick Williams, Jahmi’us Ramsey and Saddiq Bey all fit with the Spurs’ long-term outlook, just to name a few viable draft options at No. 17.
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Ojeleye is an intriguing player in the sense that he has experience in big moments and has shown flashes a multi-faceted defensive aggressor who can fit in with any lineup. At 25-years-old, we’re reaching a ‘make it or break it’ point for Ojeleye and if any team could help him fulfill his potential, it’s the San Antonio Spurs. They need defensive-minded players to fill out the rotation and play backup spots in important games, so he’d be a solid dart-throw for a year.
Boston also takes back Rudy Gay‘s contract to make it work. The veteran forward is still a serviceable player who can rejuvenate a bench unit and play off of most star players in the game today with his secondary ball-handling ability and threat as a three-level scorer.
Ainge wouldn’t be happy giving up that pick, but just as he did with the Kyrie Irving experiment, he’ll have to settle for what came of it and move on with the stars he has today.
You can find other articles in this series by clicking on the team name below:
Western Conference: LA Clippers, Sacramento Kings, Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors, Portland Trail Blazers, Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder, Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies. Eastern Conference: Indiana Pacers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons, Milwaukee Bucks, Charlotte Hornets, Atlanta Hawks, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, Washington Wizards.