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Four Celtics Trades Brad Stevens Should Consider In Offseason

Jul 27, 2023

The Boston Celtics face what could be a pivotal offseason after falling short in the Eastern Conference finals.

President of basketball operations Brad Stevens appeared to take a "business as usual attitude" in his end-of-season news conference Thursday. It appears his only tasks will be to fill head coach Joe Mazzulla's staff and make small changes to the roster.

Jaylen Brown was deemed a priority. The All-NBA guard is eligible to sign a five-year, $295 million contract, and Jayson Tatum could sign a supermax deal worth over $300 million in the future. Those deals, along with the new collective-bargaining agreement, would make acquiring new players tough for the Celtics.

The star duo have played in four out of six conference finals and one NBA Finals together. But a franchise that has won 17 titles demands more than just appearances in big games. It's why Stevens and his staff must consider if they need to be shrewd enough to make the necessary changes to the roster.

These four potential trade options should be the start of that consideration.

Jaylen Brown to Portland or AtlantaTaking a look at the big picture, Boston should keep Brown. He's proven himself to be a top-15 player, and realistically, you’re not getting a fair return in any trade. Brown's biggest problem in the postseason is consistency. Teams are better able to lock in on his weakness — dribbling to his left — and it has been a big pain point for the Celtics offense. Boston just needs to trust this is something Brown works on in the offseason and hope he is better able to put together a consistent stretch in next season's playoffs.

But if Brown is tired of being part of rumored trade discussions or isn't a fan of the Celtics potentially lowballing him in contract negotiations, that is when Boston should trade Brown. The Atlanta Hawks and Portland Trail Blazers have been brought up as popular destinations. The former would allow the 26-year-old to play in his hometown, and the latter gives him a fresh start potentially with Damian Lillard.

The Celtics should not trade for Trae Young. While he is an attractive name, he's too much of a defensive liability to make up for his lead-handling skills. Instead, Boston should get John Collins, Saddiq Bey and multiple draft picks. The pair of players are solid 3-point shooters and can defend enough to match well with Tatum.

A deal with the Blazers would depend on their view on Lillard and vice versa. The star guard has continued to preach his loyalty to Portland and has never demanded a trade despite an ongoing rebuild. If he does want out, the Celtics could do a simple Brown and Marcus Smart switch. While Lillard isn't a lock-down defender that smart is, he is a complete player on the offensive side that would be a huge boost to Boston.

But if Lillard wants to stay, the C's could acquire Anfernee Simons, Nassir Little and multiple first-round picks, including the third pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, for Brown. Simons has emerged as a talented young guard that could handle duties as a lead guard, and he can defend at a solid level. Little also provides strong defense that can help the Celtics regain their defensive identity.

Marcus Smart to HoustonThose are simple trades to make if Brown wants out of Boston. But rip the Band-Aid off and make a huge change for the Green. Smart has been viewed as the heart and soul of the team in his nine-year career with the Celtics. But he has not helped the team win a championship, and Stevens must determine if he has the skills to do that. The All-Defensive guard also will be 30 next season. While renowned for his toughness and his grit, the time will come when his body just gives up on him and his physical traits on defense will become less of an asset.

The loss of Smart's leadership will be lost, but Brown and Tatum will just have to pick up that slack. The Celtics should act sooner rather than later to sell high on Smart before his skills fall off a cliff. Ime Udoka could use Smart's leadership and toughness for a young Rockets team. Boston could acquire Jalen Green, Jae’Sean Tate and the No. 4 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft for Smart. Green is a dynamic scorer, and at 21 years old, he can grow into becoming a better defender. Tate also provides positional flexibility on switches and can be a valuable bench player.

Malcolm Brogdon to DallasWhat became clear in the postseason is the Celtics didn't need three players who have similar skill sets. Derrick White has proven he is a key asset that fits well with Tatum and Brown. If Smart is just too valuable to the team for his intangibles and status as a core leader, that leaves Brogdon as the odd man out. The seventh-year guard has yet to prove he can play a full season without an injury, which hampered Boston in the final games of the Eastern Conference finals. The stability he brought off the bench was key for the Celtics, but it's not worth that much to make him untouchable.

Brogdon played for Jason Kidd in his early years with the Milwaukee Bucks, and if the Dallas Mavericks aren't able to retain Kyrie Irving in free agency, then Brogdon would be a solid consolation to pair with Luka Doncic. The Celtics can trade Brogdon for Davis Bertans and Reggie Bullock. The pair would be solid contributors off the bench, and the latter would serve as a nice fit on the wings for Tatum and Brown drives.

Jaylen Brown to Portland or Atlanta Marcus Smart to Houston Malcolm Brogdon to Dallas