With the NBA Trade Deadline less than a month away now, it’s safe to expect the Boston Celtics to pull off a few moves between now and February 10th. President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens clearly likes to wheel and deal, and he just pulled off his first in-season trade last night.
The trade on paper isn’t exactly interesting. The Celtics pulled off a three team deal with the San Antonio Spurs and Denver Nuggets that was basically just a swap of reserve players for each team. It will fly under the radar (as it should) but it could be the first domino to fall for Boston in what figures to be a frantic trade period. Here’s the details of the trade:
Boston Celtics receive: Bol Bol and PJ Dozier
Denver Nuggets receive: Bryn Forbes
San Antonio Spurs receive: Juancho Hernangomez and Denver’s 2028 second round pick
So not a very exciting deal, but it could end up being very important for the C’s as the deadline inches closer. After all, head coach Ime Udoka said Stevens took about 10 phone calls after their most recent win over the New Orleans Pelicans, so it’s clear the front office is looking for ways to improve this currently mediocre squad. Let’s take a look at what this deal means for the Boston Celtics, including a final grade for the deal.
The Boston Celtics sacrificed two roster spots to clear up some cap space
The initial return for Boston left many fans scratching their heads. Dozier is currently out for the rest of the season after he tore his ACL in November, and Bol recently elected to get surgery on his foot after he failed his physical for a potential trade to the Detroit Pistons. Sure, Hernangomez contributed virtually nothing to this team this season, but at least he was healthy and able to be called upon if needed.
The problem was that Hernangomez was getting $6.9 million to warm the bench for Boston this season. Moving Hernangomez in this deal created $4.3 million, which helps Stevens get closer to his goal of moving below the luxury tax line. Taking on two injured players who cost less than Hernangomez was clearly something that Stevens viewed as a positive move for the team, and it’s hard to disagree with him on that one.
Ultimately, it remains to be seen whether Dozier or Bol will ever end up suiting up for the Celtics. Dozier is set to be an unrestricted free agent at the season’s end, and he may ultimately get moved again considering he has a team friendly contract that could appeal to another team down the line. Bol could return this season, but if he doesn’t he’s a restricted free agent this upcoming offseason.
Of the two, it seems more likely Bol would stick around rather than Dozier. Bol has a lot of potential, and he’s a bit of a unicorn of sorts standing at 7’2, but he never could figure things out in Denver. It may be tough to remember now, but he was considered to be one of the top draft picks during the leadup to the 2019 Draft, although he ended up falling although the way down to the 44th pick.
A side note of sorts; you can’t help but be a little disappointed that Boston didn’t come away with Forbes somehow in this deal. Forbes is a career 41.3 percent shooter from behind the arc, and his knockdown tendencies on catch and shoot shots would be a perfect fit off the Celtics bench. Moving closer to the luxury tax is probably more important in the long run, but Forbes would have been a solid short term fit with this team.
While this deal ultimately accomplishes nothing in terms of what the Boston Celtics do on the court, this is most likely the first domino to fall in the team’s Trade Deadline strategy. Moving closer to the luxury tax gives them more flexibility to make some bigger moves down the line, and the fact that they were able to find someone to take on Hernangomez’s contract at this point is a win in it’s own right.
I wouldn’t count on either Bol or Dozier sticking with this team for the long run, but if either of them ever end up developing into a solid bench player, this is easily a win for Boston. Even then, they have pretty team friendly contracts, so if they become part of a bigger deal for the C’s, then the goal of this trade was accomplished.
This deal was done in order to create more cap flexiblity to better the team in the long run. It’s not going to make Boston better on the court, but it may lead to another move that does. And who knows, maybe Bol can develop into something in the future. It’s not the flashiest deal ever, but the Celtics are easily in a better position than they were yesterday, making this deal a win. Final Grade: B