February's stunning trade of Derrick White marked the first time the Spurs ever traded with the Boston Celtics, and it's shaping up to be a huge win-win so far.
San Antonio has embraced veteran Josh Richardson, who's been sharp on both ends of the court since his debut with the team on February 26th. Meanwhile, the Celtics are 16-5 since dealing for the former Spurs fan favorite. As a result, they're likely to host the first round of the NBA Playoffs, White's first postseason since 2019.
One of the teams the Spurs should be watching closely come playoff time are the Chicago Bulls, who have another notable former Spur, DeMar DeRozan. After coming out of the gates on fire, they've cooled significantly and have dropped to the bottom half of the Eastern Conference standings. So why is that significant, and what does that have to do with the Boston Celtics?
The Celtics can make Zach LaVine second-guess himself
The Boston Celtics can make Zach LaVine at least question if he's in the right place with unrestricted free agency looming, and they can do so by knocking his Bulls out before they can make any noise. Heading into Thursday's slate of games, the Celtics and Bulls are the 4th and 5th seeds, respectively. They've been hovering around those two spots often, and with five or six games remaining, there's a chance that could an unexpected first round matchup.
LaVine is sure to be one of the most coveted free agents in an otherwise light summer on that front, but he's a game-changing piece if the Spurs can somehow convince him to climb aboard. Over the last three seasons, the 6-5 guard/forward has averaged 25.5 points and 4.5 assists per game, shooting 39.3% from three in that span.
While the odds are low that LaVine would leave Chicago, a first or second round exit could at least make him reconsider a quick re-sign and maybe take a meeting with a rising team like San Antonio. If the Spurs can set that up, they have plenty of ways to appeal to the 26-year-old.
LaVine has talked glowingly about Coach Popovich after his experience with Team USA, saying how deep his respect for him is. He's also very close to Dejounte Murray, a fellow Washington native who he grew up near as they both pushed each other toward stardom in the NBA.
In a perfect world, the Celtics and Bulls clash in the postseason, Derrick White balls out (or shuts down a weapon), and Chicago has some questions to answer from LaVine. While it would be a shame to see DeRozan come up short like that, it is a business after all.
Let's see if we can keep helping each other out this April, Celtics. We'll owe you one.