Celtics Lead

Celtics Should Avoid Trading with Wizards

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Amidst the Washington Wizards‘ rapidly disintegrating chemistry is a roster wielding plenty of talent. John Wall holds five all-star appearances, Bradley Beal is an offensively gifted 25-year-old shooting guard, and Otto Porter Jr. makes quietly efficient plays despite being historically underutilized. With a mix of flawed but quality role-players (Jeff Green, Tomas Satoransky, Markieff Morris) and a raw lottery prospect (Troy Brown), the Wizards have a multitude of useful trade pieces.

Meanwhile, the Boston Celtics sit at 17-10 through the early portion of the NBA season. After an uninspiring start, Beantown is currently sporting a seven-game winning streak, with a multitude of low-quality opponents next on the schedule. Still, some fans have clamored for Danny Ainge to consolidate his wealth of trade chips in order to snag another superstar. Is anyone on the Wizards worth targeting?

The short answer: no. Due to the roster depth of the Celtics, the uncertainty surrounding many of Washington’s players, and the trade-killer that is the NBA salary cap, no move significantly improves the roster while also allowing the Wizards to rebuild.

Problem One: Boston is Too Deep

The sheer talent level of the Celtics’ players rules out many of the Wizards’ pieces. Otto Porter Jr. is a great role player but not a major upgrade from 20 year-old phenom Jayson Tatum, 22 year-old Jaylen Brown or recovering All-Star Gordon Hayward. Porter excels as the third man behind two scorers in Wall and Beal. However, he’s never been a shot creator and never held a usage rate over last year’s 18.2%. These flaws should concern Celtics fans, especially as Kyrie continues to shoulder the brunt of the takeover scorer role. Boston does not need another complimentary piece, and certainly does not need another wing. Porter’s monster contract (three years left of a four-year, $106.5 million deal) is also an eyesore. At 25, fans shouldn’t expect stardom from him, making any trade equivalent to treading water.

As for the rest of Washington’s players? John Wall could not play alongside Kyrie Irving, and would be a serious downgrade if the two were swapped. Since Kyrie verbally committed to re-signing, it would make zero sense for him to be dealt or for a competing point guard to join the team.

Markieff Morris fills the same role as his brother, Marcus. Tomas Satoransky would be stuck behind Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart. Jeff Green could play backup power forward, and has Celtics history, but at 32, he’s only trending downward. The prospects, Brown and center Thomas Bryant, are much too raw for a role on a championship contender.

This leaves the one Wizard with star power who could fill a need: Bradley Beal.

Problem Two: the Cap Complicates a Trade

Slot Bradley Beal into the Celtics roster and he looks like a good fit. While he’s struggled early this season, Beal is a career 38.9% shooter from long range who has continued to grow with an uptick in usage. He also has averaged 20 PPG in his last three seasons and would boost a mediocre Boston offense. Beal is in the middle of a 5-year, $127 million contract, but it appears close to reasonable given his production.

The problem? Boston has no room to fit the money. Assuming Irving and Jayson Tatum are off-limits, a Bradley Beal trade would have to include one of Al Horford and Gordon Hayward. Horford makes zero sense right off the bat. He’s a valuable defensive anchor for the win-now Celtics and would be on the opposite end of a Wizards rebuilding timeline. Boston has no reason to trade Horford and Washington has no reason to want him.

Gordon Hayward becomes the most probable trade candidate, but would Brad Stevens approve of a deal? And at 28, Hayward and his huge contract would require serious draft sweeteners to land Bradley Beal. Is the shooting guard worth giving up someone who could still return to all-star form, along with a sizeable chunk of picks? Beal is a high-end player, but a trade of this magnitude should be reserved for generational talents.

The Celtics must have two priorities in trade discussion: getting under the luxury tax and landing Anthony Davis… erm… a superstar. Unfortunately, the Wizards offer no clear path to either goal. For now, Boston should stay put and focus on the improving chemistry of their current roster. They can win the East without Beal and without sacrificing future pieces.

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About Ethan Fuller

Hailing from Portsmouth, NH, Ethan is a journalism student at Boston University and writes about the Celtics for TLSM. His chief basketball teams are the Celtics and Minnesota Timberwolves. Ethan is also a still-growing ultimate frisbee player.

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