So now comes the aftermath of the Celtics getting Gordon Hayward to agree to sign with them. The salary cap dictates that the C’s have to make some moves, and there has been a lot of talk surrounding what more will happen besides renouncing Kelly Olynyk, who is en route to the Miami Heat on a big deal. They have plenty of options, but they might not have used their best one on Friday.
A lot of names have been floated out there in trade talk, especially since they have a lot of small forwards. You can expect them to often play two small forwards together, with one effectively playing power forward. Instead, the Celtics traded a guard, Avery Bradley, and it’s not a good move at first glance.
The Celtics acquired another forward in Marcus Morris, so that adds to the logjam. More importantly, Bradley is one of the NBA’s best defensive guards, to the point that many wondered how he didn’t make one of the league’s All-Defensive Teams recently. Alongside Isaiah Thomas, he was perfect in that he could make up for some of the deficiencies of Thomas, who amazingly got a vote for the All-Defensive teams but is rightly regarded as not a good defender.
Bradley would always guard the opponent’s top guard, and he came along offensively. Defense has always been his forte, and he came into the NBA as a so-so shooter and has developed into a much more dependable one. When he was out of action due to injury, as has happened a couple of times, it really hurt the Celtics. At times, a lack of depth has made his absence hurt more, at other times it’s been as simple as the fact that he’s become a good NBA player and is as good as he is defensively.
For other reasons, the move makes a certain amount of sense. Next year is the last year of Bradley’s deal, and he was sure to command a raise. Additionally, multiple sources and reports have suggested Bradley didn’t love Boston, meaning only a really good deal money-wise might keep him in town.
Even so, the return is not ideal since it adds to the logjam at forward. Had they received another guard in return, it might make more sense. That leads you to believe the wheeling and dealing is not done yet, even though this deal apparently creates enough cap room for Hayward. You wonder if this means Marcus Smart is more likely to be with the Celtics past next year (his rookie contract is up then), seeing as how he was rumored to be on the trade block. Terry Rozier, who got better as the playoffs went along, probably has a little more life in Boston as well.
At this point, the trade with the 76ers to move down instead of drafting Markelle Fultz now looks rather curious. Fultz would give the Celtics more options, as he can play both guard spots and even be groomed to be the full-time point guard should they opt to let Isaiah Thomas walk after next year instead of signing him to a deal for too much money. He could play alongside IT or give him a breather.
The Celtics are surely not done making moves just yet. Hopefully, though, the next moves give a little more reason for optimism than the trade of Bradley on Friday.