Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Shams Charania expects Celtics to be 'active in the trade market' before February deadline

The Celtics at 15-5 have the league's best record, but it doesn't mean the president of basketball operations in Brad Stevens is not looking to improve his current roster.

According to NBA insider Shams Charania, Boston is likely to make a move prior to the February trade deadline. The Athletic's and Stadium senior writer made an appearance on a recent episode of  "Run It Back" on FanDuel TV and believes Stevens and the Celtics will very much be seeking to boost their second unit within the next several weeks.
"The Celtics gave a couple of first round picks in the Jrue Holiday trade but they still have a few left over," Charania said Tuesday morning. "I expect the Celtics to be active in the trade market as we get closer to February, to try to see if they can beef up their bench rotation."
While the Celtics arguably have the best starting lineup when healthy of Jrue Holiday, Derrick White, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Kristaps Porzingis -- the bench is thin beyond veteran Al Horford, Sam Hauser and Payton Pritchard for scoring depth.

Hauser at 10.0 points per contest (on 47.6% from the field and 45.2% from deep) is the leading scorer when it comes to the second unit -- netting 200 of the the bench's 514 total points scored so far in 20 games played.

Outside of Hasuer's impact, the C's bench which ranks 29th in the league in points per game (25.7) -- per StatMuse -- there's no other player that is putting up close to double-digit scoring, despite the NBA's team averaging the fewest bench minutes at 14.9 per contest.

Still, to Stevens credit, he did attempt to add depth over the summer even after the Porzingis trade by signing free agents Oshae Brissett, Svi Mykhailiuk, and Lamar Stevens -- but none have yet to gain coach Joe Mazzulla's trust for any sort of consistent minutes to start the 2023-24 campaign.

Adding to this current Celtics bench seems more than plausible, especially after sacrificing depth when Stevens traded the reigning Sixth Man of the Year Malcolm Brogdon to acquire Holiday 24 hours prior to the start of training camp.

Despite being one of the favorites to win the inaugural NBA Cup, Boston playing without Porzingis for a fourth straight game due to a calf injury, were eliminated from the quarterfinals of the In-Season Tournament by the Indiana Pacers in a 122-112 loss Monday night -- while being outscored in bench points 33-21. Though it definitely doesn't qualify as a panic situation so early on in the season, but it could make many wonder if any Celtic starter misses significant time, will the team stay a float?

Fortunately, Boston has some resources to fall back on to possibly add some insurance to its roster which includes: an open roster spot, control of their own first-round picks through 2028 and a total of 12 picks overall in the next five drafts. Plus, Stevens also has a $6.2 million trade exception in his back pocket -- created when Grant Williams was dealt to the Dallas Mavericks in a sign-and-trade this past offseason.

However, with all of the chips to play with there's also no guarantee the Celtics will definitely add some more depth between now and or December 15 -- when trades can officially begin for free agents signed over the summer -- and next February's deadline.  

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of Getty Images

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