Celtics

Gobert Intriguing, but Not Worth It for Boston

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It is no secret that the Celtics are looking to add talent in the front court this offseason. One target that has been rumored is Jazz all-star big man Rudy Gobert.

 

A deal involving Gobert, however, would be difficult to execute given the pieces that would have to be moved for each team to agree on a deal. Regardless, let’s take a look at a few possible deals.

Potential Trade Packages

No. 1

Boston receives: Rudy Gobert

Utah receives: Marcus Smart, Robert Williams III and future draft capital

This trade package was floated around by ESPN’s Zach Lowe. In this deal, the Celtics get their coveted big-man upgrade they have been looking for since Al Horford’s departure. The Jazz receive an all-NBA defender in return, along with a young big man with upside in the Timelord. Lowe was very vague in what type of “picks” Boston would be sending in the deal, so I’ll just say Boston’s No. 14 this year and next year’s first round pick. I don’t see Utah agreeing to this deal, as Gobert is their second-best player, so dealing him for basically Smart and picks signifies more of a rebuild.

No. 2

Boston receives: Rudy Gobert

Utah receives: Jaylen Brown and No. 14 pick

This is what I think gets the deal done for Gobert. I don’t believe that Utah will trade Gobert for Gordon Hayward or for a bunch of spare parts (salaries need to match). That leaves either Brown or Kemba Walker in the deal, and what better way to make Donovan Mitchell happy than to trade for one of his best friends. It also helps that Brown is a tremendous young player who keeps improving his game. This would set the Jazz up with an athletic duo for the foreseeable future, as both guys have recently signed contract extensions.

What Gobert Brings

Gobert was named to his first all-star team last season, averaging 15.1 points, 13.5 rebounds and two blocks per game. Additionally, he was named to his fourth-straight All-NBA Defensive First Team. He is the glue that holds that Jazz defense together, as the Jazz posted a 106.6 defensive rating with Gobert on the floor. When he was off the court, however, that rating rose to 110.1.

While Gobert doesn’t have the most skilled offensive game, he is still extremely valuable on that end. Setting screens in the pick-and-roll are two of the things big men do most on the offensive end in today’s NBA. While he sometimes gets clowned for it on social media, Gobert is one of the best screen setters in the league. He averaged 6.9 screen assists per game last season, trailing only Domantas Sabonis. Pairing him with guys like Walker and Jayson Tatum would maximize his strength on offense.

Why The Celtics Say No

The cost for obtaining Gobert is concerning. Not only the price it would cost to get him, but also to keep him. He will enter free agency after next season and won’t be cheap to keep in Boston. Having to include Brown in any deal is a tough pill to swallow, as he is coming off a breakout season that saw him average a career-high 20.3 points per game. Additionally, he will be entering the first year of his four-year extension, giving him four years of control to Gobert’s one.

Gobert’s struggles in the playoffs also give cause for concern. He went from second to fifth on the Jazz in Net playoff rating. His defensive rating in the playoffs was 119.4, and Utah’s team defensive rating improved to 101.4 with him off the floor. This has been a troubling trend for Gobert over the course of his career, as teams have been able to play him off the court. The last three postseasons have seen the Jazz be better defensively with Gobert on the bench.

The Celtics shouldn’t move a major piece for any big man that doesn’t help against Bam Adebayo or Joel Embiid. With the league becoming all about switch-ability and being wing-oriented, it makes no sense to move Brown. Especially when the player in return is mainly effective under the basket on both ends.

While the Celtics should look at improving at the center position, they can afford to be selective. Any deal that involves Brown should be for a player that can stay on the floor in the playoffs. For now, the Celtics should focus on free agency when it comes to adding a big man.

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About Mason Urban

Sports writer for The Spectrum newspaper and contributor for The Lead Sports Media

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