Brad Stevens has taken his first major step as President of basketball operations for the Boston Celtics in trading point guard Kemba Walker to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The deal looks like this as reported by ESPN,
"Boston is sending All-Star point guard Kemba Walker, the 16th pick in this year’s NBA draft and a 2025 second-round selection to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Al Horford, Moses Brown and a 2023 second-round pick, the Celtics announced Friday."
He averaged about 20 points when he played in two injury-riddled seasons. Walker is entering his age 31 season.
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Horford has participated on three Boston teams from 2016-2019 before leaving on an opt-out for Philadelphia. Now about to enter the 2021/2022 season, Horford is not the player he was.
Last season Horford only played in 28 games averaging 14.2 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. he’s not exactly an earth-shattering acquisition.
Moses Brown is a young, 7’2″ center who has shown promise and he may very likely wind up to be a bigger factor than Horford.
Brown averaged 8.6 points and 8.9 rebounds for the Thunder last season. He also averaged 1.1 blocks in an average of 21.4 minutes per game. Brown looks like the key to the deal for Boston from this vantage point.
Pluses and minuses for the Boston Celtics in this trade
Some pluses for Boston
A plus is that Boston unloads some salary in the trade-off of Walker for Horford. Cap relief is a plus anytime. $20M saved over two years is a solid plus.
"Boston will now see some relief in cap space as Walker is owed $73 million over the next two seasons while Horford is owed $53 million over the same time period. They will see $20 million in cap savings once the trade is completed."
In addition, Horford adds a veteran presence who fit in nicely with Boston’s young stars Jason Tatum and Jaylen Brown in his first whirl with the club.
He can also shoot the three-pointer and act as a stretch 4 or 5 when necessary opening up the lane for drives to the hoop by Boston’s star players.
Having picked up some cap room, they will be better positioned to make additional deals, e.g. for a new point guard and participate in free agency.
Brown may well turn out to be the best aspect of the deal for Boston. He can be a force on the boards. He also had a noteworthy game against the Celtics on March 27, 2021.
By halftime, Brown had already logged in 19 rebounds and 17 points. That’s not a bad half’s work for any player.
He also provides legitimate height at the 5 in a player who may actually get meaningful minutes for Boston (since Tacko Fall seems to be a bench-warmer thus far).
Some negatives for Boston
The downsides for Boston in this deal are really few. Walker just wasn’t going to be the player they expected and was unlikely to be in the future.
Thus, cutting ties while value can still be realized and in the case of Brown solid value, made good sense. A solid first move for the rookie chief, Stevens.
One may argue that surrendering a first-round pick in this year’s draft (No. 16) was surrendering good value. That’s was not necessarily true under Danny Ainge’s regime.
Mid-first-round picks under Ainge never did much of anything. To get a young veteran (only 21 years old) NBA center in Brown in essence for that pick seems like a good exchange, indeed.
So there’s not much lost there and the teams swap second-rounders. That’s no big deal, either.
In sum, this looks like a very nice start for executive Brad Stevens. While this is not a home run of a deal, who knows, it could turn out to be special.
If Moses Brown continues to develop and ultimately becomes a double-double level player which seems entirely possible, it may just be. All-in-all this is a fine move for Brad Stevens.
Hopefully, he continues with additional good moves. This team needs a makeover and it needs one now.
If that means trading a seemingly untouchable player like Jaylen Brown for another top-quality, All-Star level player, then do it.
It’s time to go for the gold. Mediocrity for the Celtics is not and has never been acceptable. Maybe Stevens will be the manager who makes it all happen, again. All Celtics fans certainly hope so.