Danny Ainge has more options than just the TPE to upgrade the roster.
The Celtics need help, but the NBA trade deadline is still several weeks away. Chances are Danny Ainge is going to wait till closer to the deadline to use the Gordon Hayward TPE but that’s not the only way he can upgrade the roster. He has a smaller TPE from the Enes Kanter trade and of course he has the option of trading players and picks.
My thought this morning is that somehow we’ve found ourselves with excess talent at the center position and not enough depth elsewhere. A lot of this excess of depth is as a result of Robert Williams III making strides in his game and awareness on the court.
“I think he’s understanding the game more and it’s showing with his productivity out there on the court,” said Jayson Tatum. “And he’s tough to guard because he gets out the roll quick, obviously can play really high above the rim. He has an amazing feel for the game. When he tips it out or rebounds he can get in a roll and know where to pass it. Rob’s really, really good and he’s gonna help us out the more opportunities that he gets.”
On some level, you can see the rationale behind adding a veteran center like Tristan Thompson in the offseason. The Celtics struggled with center depth at times last year, relying on guys like Grant Williams and Semi Ojeleye to play big minutes there. Timelord’s history of injury issues is enough to give the team pause. However, when healthy he’s proven to be an impact player on both ends of the court.
This year the trio of Daniel Theis, Tristan Thompson, and Robert Williams have largely been healthy and effective. Stevens still has the option of playing Grant or Semi at the 5 if necessary (or as a change of pace) as well.
Note that Theis is a free agent at the end of this year and Thompson is on the books for $9.7M next season (a very tradeable mid-range salary that could be used in trades between now and next year’s deadline). If we keep Timelord, at some point we’ll have to pay him to stay and it would be nice to see what he can do with a more prominent role. Or if teams around the league value his skillset, he could bring back quality in return.
So the discussion topic is this: If Timelord is ready for primetime, do we really need 3 centers? Or would it make more sense to trade one of them to address issues elsewhere on the roster? Or perhaps would it make sense to deal two of them to consolidate them into an upgrade at the position? If we’re trading just one of them, who is the most expendable and who would get us the most in return?