The Boston Celtics have had a mediocre start to the 2016-17 season with a record of six wins and five losses. This season, they were expected to become a contender in the Eastern Conference with the signing of Al Horford. Despite singing Horford, I think the Celtics biggest issue is their front court. Let’s take a look at four centers and forwards that the Celtics should consider acquiring.
1 – Zach Randolph
Randolph is a veteran power forward for the Memphis Grizzlies. So far this season, he is averaging 14.2 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. Throughout his career, Zach has been known for being strong in the paint and getting garbage buckets for his team. He out-hustles lazy rebounders and finishes around the rim through contact. These qualities are what Boston is lacking. Randolph would be a strong post presence alongside Al Horford and the two of them would be an intimidating matchup for any team in the league.
However, the Grizzlies are not going to give such a player up so easily. Even at the age of 35, Zach Randolph will still be hard to trade for. So, how can the Celtics trade for him without gutting their entire team? The best deal would probably involve the Celtics giving up Jaylen Brown and Kelly Olynyk and the Grizzlies trading Zach Randolph and Deyonta Davis. The Celtics would acquire the big man they need in Randolph and a good prospect in Davis. The Grizzlies would gain a good defender in the rookie, Jaylen Brown, and much needed three-point shooting in Kelly Olynyk. This trade helps the Grizzlies get younger so they can build for the future while it helps the Celtics develop a team that can win now.
2 – Kenneth Faried
Faried is, in many ways, a very similar player to Zach Randolph. He’s a gritty player who does a team’s dirty work. For a front court player, Faried is extremely undersized at 6’8″ but his speed allows him to beat taller players down the floor and to get easy fast break points. Last season, Boston ranked 23rd in the league in fast break points. That number is too low for a team looking to contend and I think Kenneth Faried is the perfect man to fill that hole.
Let’s take a look at the potential deal. The Denver Nuggets are a young team and are not opposed to obtaining draft picks. Boston happens to have Brooklyn’s first round pick which is expected to be in at least the top three. The deal I propose is that Boston gives Brooklyn’s first rounder and Amir Johnson and in return, they get Kenneth Faried and Memphis’ first round pick. This deal gives Denver a high draft pick in what is expected to be one of the deepest drafts in years, and it gives the Celtics one of the last pieces they need to be a contender.
3 – Serge Ibaka
Ibaka is one of the more interesting players on this list. He started his career as a traditional big man. He was an elite shot blocker and a solid pick-and-roll scorer. Now, he has developed into a stretch four and is one of the better shooters in the league. If Boston traded for Ibaka then their entire starting lineup would be able to shoot from three-point range giving them one of the most dangerous offenses in the league.
This trade would be similar to the trade above. Orlando would love to have Brooklyn’s draft pick so Boston could trade the Brooklyn pick and Amir Johnson. Orlando would trade Serge Ibaka and their 2018 first round pick. Orlando would benefit from this deal as well because trading away Ibaka allows their young forward, Aaron Gordon, to play significantly more minutes which should speed up his development considerably.
4 – Nerlens Noel
Noel, like Ibaka, is an elite shot blocker and defender. The 6’11” center averaged 11.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game last year. Unlike any other players on this list, Noel is only 22 years old and his numbers look promising. His only downside is his offensive game. He can’t post up or shoot and because of that, he is mainly a pick and roll player. Fortunately, since he is still so young, his offense has plenty of time to grow and I think he would still be a great asset for the Celtics.
The 76ers should be happy to trade Noel considering they have two other young centers that need playing time. This trade would be a simple swap. The Celtics give Jaylen Brown and the sixers give Noel. In this scenario, both teams would receive a young player at a position where they are struggling. If one team isn’t happy then the other could throw in a second round pick to make it even. I think this is a deal that both teams would be quick to accept.
The Boston Celtics are a young team with a lot of potential, but if they trade some of the talent they don’t need for some of these players then I believe they can make the jump from being a playoff team to becoming a contender.