The NBA trade deadline is fast approaching. With a week to go, this is when business starts to wrap up. Teams are getting smarter in their requests and competitors are getting smarter in their offers. That’s when the trade is made.
For the Boston Celtics, they were relatively quiet. That’s been the MO under Brad Stevens. What you don’t hear is what happens while all the lively things rarely come to pass.
That said, let’s talk about some buzzy stuff after the trade deadline.
Pritchard made some waves in Boston recently, saying he wants a bigger role and that it’s something he thinks could happen when he’s “done” with the Celtics in a year.
League sources told CelticsBlog that Pritchard was referring to when the season is over and not implying he will be traded from Boston. But multiple sources have confirmed that Pritchard has made it clear he would like a bigger role and more consistent minutes.
“Celtics” source said. “It would be a problem for us and for Payton if he didn’t want to have a bigger role. That’s what we want, competitive guys who want to play. When you get a guy who is happy to sit, that’s when you have a problem. We never had that problem with Peyton.”
Another person familiar with the situation insisted that Pritchard did not take issue with his records. This person said the words from Celtics coaches and players that he is “staying ready” is true for the third-year guard and that he is not complaining about not playing.
Finally, one of the competing teams said: “They’re not trading Pritchard this year unless it’s a really good deal for them. He’s too valuable as a depth guy behind two injury-prone guys (Marcus Smart and Malcolm Brogdon) to just cut him out so he can play.”
That approach seems to align with Boston’s thinking. However, off-season trade talks can often set the stage for summer moves. The San Antonio Spurs, Detroit Pistons and Charlotte Hornets have expressed interest in Pritchard, sources said. That’s in addition to previously reported interest from the Golden State Warriors.
Despite reports to the contrary, sources continue to insist that Boston has shown no new or renewed interest in Poeltl in months. One source said the teams haven’t talked about a deal to send Poeltl from San Antonio to Boston since early December, before Rob Williams returned.
One person close to Poeltl’s situation said: “He is in serious condition. He wants to win, but he’s a free agent in the summer. And he’s in control for the first time. He doesn’t want to go somewhere and leave the last impression of being a backup center before free agency.”
That’s a challenge for the Celtics. If healthy, Poelt wouldn’t start Rob Williams, who many Boston players and coaches have called “the quintessential Celtic” in recent days. And it’s unlikely the Celtics will be able to pay Poeltl what he wants, given that he’ll likely always be behind Williams when Williams is healthy.
Keep an eye out for Will Barton if he trades with the Washington Wizards. A source told CelticsBlog. “There is some mutual interest there. Barton would give them another goal off the bench and he’s got a lot of game experience too.”
Barton’s contract is a bit too big for Boston to reasonably trade for. But the veteran wing hasn’t been in the regular rotation in Washington for months. Chris Haynes reported on the #thisleague Uncut podcast that it’s looking increasingly likely that Barton won’t finish the season with the Wizards. That makes him a buyout target for the Celtics.
The Celtics and Grant Williams legally can’t do anything as far as a contract extension goes, despite some of the talk being reported elsewhere. Any deal Williams signs with Boston will be a new contract this July as a restricted free agent. The rookie’s extension deadline expired back in October.
However, the Celtics and Williams remain interested in their partnership. The source said: “Grant loves it in Boston and loves his role. The coaches and front office continue to push him to step up his game. They see him as the eventual replacement for Al Horford. The deal will be done this summer.”
The green light
Celtics ownership, led by Wyke Groosbeck, is desperate to bring Banner 18 to Boston. They’ve given Brad Stevens the green light to do what he thinks he needs to do, as Grousbeck himself has said in recent interviews.
One of the competitors told CelticsBlog. “Boston has always been hesitant to raise too much salary and put it on the tax floor. This year, that hesitation has disappeared. We held negotiations and asked: “Can you raise taxes that much?” and was told it wasn’t even a minor concern. It’s very different from previous years.”
That doesn’t mean a major move is imminent. But if the right deal is done where the Celtics add money, which also adds tax penalties because Boston is already over $23 million over the tax bill, they will. That’s where the $5.9 million tradeable player exception will soon expire next week.
Gallinari isn’t giving up hope of playing this season, but sources say no one on the Celtics is pushing him to play or expecting him to play. However, Gallinari was encouraged by the quicker-than-usual returns from veterans Joe Ingles and Danny Green.
Regarding the Gallinari trade, a source told CelticsBlog. “Nothing is happening there. Let’s just say that Brad (Stevens) operates differently than Danny (Iing). He’s a bit more in tune with the players and the dressing room. The guys all see Gallo busting his tail to make a comeback and it will sting to see him traded for what he went through. He will not be moved for marginal upgrading.”
In a real sense, Gallinari could also be viewed as a “free addition” this coming summer. Boston already has him under contract, as the veteran forward is likely to pick up his player option. If that happens, the Celtics could use the Taxpayer Midlevel Exception to pick up someone else to fill a rotation need.