The Celtics have dealt with injuries for the majority of their 53-game schedule yet they still find themselves on pace for just short of 60 wins. Boston’s lineup doesn’t have any glaring holes and as a result, Danny Ainge stood pat at the trade deadline. It was the wise move for a team that’s exceeding expectations, but there’s a good chance Boston will look to make an addition via the buyout market before March 1.
Adding someone to help their frontcourt depth or bench scoring sounds like an appealing option for the Celtics, but they’d have to waive a member of their current 15-man roster before doing so. Vincent Poirier remains a likely candidate to be released if Boston finds a match on the open market.
Let’s look at some players who could potentially help the Celtics for the stretch run.
Tristan Thompson, C, Cleveland Cavaliers
The Athletic’s David Aldridge reported shortly after the trade deadline that Thompson would not be bought out in Cleveland, but he’s certainly worth a mention considering what he brings to the table.
Waiving Poirier in exchange for Thompson would bolster Boston’s frontcourt immensely. Inserting his size and rebounding into the Celtics lineup against bigger opponents like the Philadelphia 76ers or Milwaukee Bucks changes Boston’s outlook in a playoff matchup against either of those teams. At 6-foot-9, Thompson is a big, mobile defender who is an upgrade over Enes Kanter against the pick-and-roll. That alone makes him an intriguing option for the Celtics.
If things change in Cleveland and Thompson ultimately gets bought out before March 1, he immediately becomes the most coveted player on the market. Boston would have to compete with the likes of the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets, among others. It wouldn’t be a cakewalk to get him, but the Celtics surely would find themselves in the mix.
Isaiah Thomas, G, Free Agent
Thomas has been a popular talking point among Celtics fans since the deadline. The ex-Boston guard was traded from the Washington Wizards to the Clippers as part of a three-team deal but was immediately waived by Los Angeles.
In 40 games with the Wizards, Thomas was averaging 12.2 points on 40.8 percent shooting (41.3 percent from deep), but his defense, along with the rest of his Washington teammates, was less than optimal. It’s understandable the reunion possibility is gaining some traction, but it doesn’t make sense for Boston to open a roster spot for Thomas. Yes, he’d provide scoring off the bench, but not like he once did in a Celtics uniform. His current offensive skill set simply doesn’t justify his lack thereof on the defensive end.
Bottom line: Ainge likely isn’t cutting someone for 2020 Isaiah Thomas.
Dion Waiters, Wing, Free Agent
Waiters-to-Boston would probably have an eventful timeline, but that’s about it. Yes, Waiters can shoot from beyond the arc — nobody is more confident in that than Dion. Would he be able to contribute for Boston after multiple suspensions have resulted in him playing just three games this season? It’s not likely.
In his three games this year, he’s averaging 14 minutes and almost six 3-point attempts per outing. That’s 14.5 attempts per-36 minutes. The Celtics don’t need that much shooting.
Wayne Ellington, Wing, New York Knicks
The addition of Ellington sounds better in theory than the actuality of inserting him into Boston’s lineup. The 32-year-old’s numbers are down across the board this season on a Knicks team that’s struggled mightily.
He was a popular name in last year’s buyout market, but it’ll likely be to a lesser degree this season if he does part ways with New York. Ellington isn’t quite the spot-up shooter he once was, making him a less appealing option for the Celtics.
SNY’s Ian Begley reported Ellington and the Knicks could enter buyout conversations after the deadline, so his name is one to monitor one way or another.
Evan Turner, Wing, Minnesota Timberwolves
Turner is well-liked in Boston, but I’m not sure he’s a better option than Javonte Green or some of the Celtics’ other bench players. He’s a solid playmaker but generally needs the ball in his hands to be effective. Turner’s experience and defensive ability would be a welcome addition to the second unit, but is it worth cutting ties with someone on the current roster?
Bismack Biyombo, C, Charlotte Hornets
Biyombo probably isn’t getting bought out, but at 27 he’s worth mentioning as a potential depth-addition for the frontcourt. He hasn’t shown much offensively in Charlotte this season, but Biyombo is good enough on the glass where he’d be an intriguing player to look into if he hits the buyout market.
Tyler Johnson, G, Free Agent
Johnson was waived by the Suns following last week’s deadline. His role in Phoenix diminished as this season went on, but he’ll draw plenty of interest as team’s look to improve their backcourts for the stretch run.
The 27-year-old could help Boston’s bench depth if it were to take a flier on him. At 6-foot-3, Johnson has proven himself as a good on-ball defender over his six-year career, and despite below-average numbers this season, his offensive spark could be a useful option next to Brad Wanamaker. If Ainge is looking to add another bench option in the backcourt, Johnson is worth a look.
Reggie Jackson, G, Detroit Pistons
Jackson is considering a buyout from Detroit, according to The New York Times’ Marc Stein. As a result of injuries, he’s played in just 13 games this season, averaging 15.2 points and 4.7 assists on 39 percent shooting, starting in nine of those outings. If he does part ways with the Pistons, he’ll be sought after by several teams, especially those who were gunning for Darren Collison (looking at you Lakers and Clippers).
Yes, he’s better offensively than Wanamaker, but that isn’t the case on the other end. Jackson’s below-average defense makes him a questionable option for Boston if he becomes available. A 40 percent shooter coming off the bench would be a nice addition, though.
J.R. Smith, G, Free Agent
Wouldn’t this be fun?
(Depends on your definition of fun.)