This past offseason the Boston Celtics traded Gordon Hayward to the Charlotte Hornets. In doing so, the team received a $28 million Traded Player Exception (TPE). For several months now, many have wondered what precisely Boston would be able to turn that into. Them being mentioned as one of the three teams in the running for J.J. Redick’s services has only led to more questions.
During a recent appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher & Rich” show, Celtics GM Danny Ainge offered some insight into what his organization was looking to do with the trade exception. His thought process, much as it was when he explained why his team wanted no part of James Harden, was very interesting.
“I would say maybe shooting, with size,” he said.
“There are a lot of different ways you can win in this league. We could use shooting, we could use passing. But you always need defense and our team is built on defense. We’ve been winning with defense the last few years. I know we haven’t won a championship, but we need defense.”
The “defense” part of that equation is key in Ainge’s mind.
“It’s hard to find a shooter that can’t guard anybody and expect that person to come in and make a major change on our team,” he continued.
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— Game 7 (@game7__) January 28, 2021
“We’re looking for complete players. But I think that shooting at the big position is something we haven’t had.”
There are three players that immediately come to mind given the characteristics Ainge laid out: P.J. Tucker of the Houston Rockets, Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic and Harrison Barnes of the Sacramento Kings.
Tucker has refused the extension offered to him by the Rockets this year, and it appears as though a separation is inevitable.
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— Game 7 (@game7__) January 24, 2021
Along the same lines, Gordon has been the subject of frequent trade speculation. Clearly Orlando at one point had visions of building the team around him in some capacity, but his inconsistency and injury proneness has rendered that impossible. Still, in terms of pure talent, he has the skills necessary to really help a contending team like Boston out. He’s a truly great player when he isn’t too busy tweeting out revealing photos of his girlfriend.
Finally, Barnes is quietly having a very strong 2020-21 campaign. He is averaging 17.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists, while shooting 49.8 percent from the field and 41.3 percent from beyond the arc this year. Those shooting percentages are the best of his career. He would fit in quickly and snugly with the Celtics.
One way or another, Boston needs to make a move in the near future to legitimately compete for the Eastern Conference crown. Any of the aforementioned players would go a long way in helping them increase their odds of making it to the Finals.
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A graduate from the University of Texas, Anthony Amador has been credentialed to cover the Houston Texans, Dallas Cowboys, San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks and high school games all over the Lone Star State. Currently, his primary beats are the NBA, MLB, NFL and UFC.