4 Win Now Moves for The Celtics That Don’t Involve Jimmy Butler, Paul George, or Nets Picks

By: Scott Levine and Brian Kane

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Yup. (Keith Allison via Flickr)

As Celtics fans, we’re hoping something big happens this trade deadline. But, when something  invariably does not, these trades are in play. Let’s all have our hopes deflated together and look forward to one of these “blockbusters” instead of refreshing Paul George rumors on Twitter every twenty minutes or so.

Scott:

Celtics get: Danilo Gallinari. Nuggets get: Celtics 2018 First, Tyler Zeller, Jonas Jerebko

Gallinari returned to form after a quiet first month of the season. The Nuggets have been fine without him the past few weeks as he sat out with a groin injury. 21-year-old Juancho Hernangomez has played more minutes because of Gallinari’s groin, and has shown promise, highlighted by 27 points in a win against the Warriors.

While Gallo obviously makes Denver a better team, he has a $16 million player option this offseason, and will demand a sizable contract if he opts out. He probably should. He wouldn’t be crazy to demand around the same money annually, but for more years.

He is 28. Gary Harris and Nikola Jokic are 22. Jamal Murray is 19. They are a few years away from their primes (though Jokic looks damn close to it), so it doesn’t make sense for the Nuggets to tie up potential cap space to Gallo in an effort to win now. They also have Wilson Chandler under contract until 2019, who has served as a solid placeholder when Gallo has been out, so losing Gallo would not submarine their playoff hopes. Jerebko would also give them another steady hand on the wing, albeit in limited minutes.

Denver will probably hold onto Gallo in a desperate attempt to grab the eighth seed over the reloaded Pelicans, but why? To get swept by Golden State, then choose between saddling themselves to Gallinari or letting him walk when he demands a multi-year eight figure contract? Jerebko is a free agent after this year. Zeller is non-guaranteed in 2017-2018 if waived before July 1. I’d rather have a late first round pick and cap space if I’m Denver.

Boston could use Gallinari’s shooting at small forward and power forward. He would help them when the rotation invariably tightens up in the playoffs and it becomes harder justify playing Jaylen Brown significant minutes. Yes, they will lose to Cleveland if they make the conference finals, but if Gallinari re-signs with Boston, he would give them a key piece if they want to trade the Nets picks and contend with their current core, or a solid trade asset if they decide to keep the picks and rebuild.

Celtics get: Al-Farouq Aminu. Blazers get: 2019 Clippers First (Lottery protected), Rights to Ante Zizic, Tyler Zeller

Portland is not good. Luckily, their two best players are 26 and 25, and have a few years left in their prime. Despite the disgusting amount of money they owe Evan Turner and Allen Crabbe, the Blazers still have a window to retool their roster and make another run within Lillard and/or McCollum’s prime.

Aminu is an important piece for Portland, but he does not address their biggest problem: They need a center capable of protecting the rim who will not get torched in the pick and roll, since they are building around two defensive minuses in Lillard and McCollum.

Nurkic has a chance to be that player, but Zizic would give Portland get another bite of the apple. He has been playing well in the Adriatic League this season, and, like Nurkic, is on a rookie scale salary, so the financial risk is minimal.

Aminu helps two of Boston’s dire needs: defensive rebounding and defending in space from the power forward position. Aminu is an elite rebounder for a combo forward, and is a good perimeter defender. He is also on a good contract until 2019. His three point shot has regressed this season, but that could be a product of Portland’s discordant offense. It’s possible that playing in Stevens’ system could get his three-point percentage back in the mid-30s.

Portland is probably not ready to throw in the towel this season, so Aminu is likely unavailable. Celtics could also look for P.J. Tucker or Trevor Booker to fill this role.

Brian:

Celtics Get: Carmelo Anthony, Willy Hernangomez. Knicks Get: Amir Johnson, Tyler Zeller, Terry Rozier, Celtics 2018 First

If you’re the Celtics, and come Thursday afternoon you seem to have no shot at Butler or George, why not ask: how bad do the Knicks want Melo out? This offer is as low-ball as it gets, and the Celtics should offer it because there’s a chance the Knicks won’t get a better offer for Anthony.

Knicks ownership have thrown themselves into dire straits with this Melo situation: they’ve publicly expressed their discontent with his presence for months, and due to his no-trade clause the market for him consists of contenders in favorable markets, leaving the Knicks with no prospects of getting back high first round picks in a let’s-finally-start-building-around-Kristaps trade scenario. Maybe Melo could be talked into going to a mid-market team with good chemistry and a clear path to a second round playoff series, but every team knows by now to not gamble too much on him sticking around. He’s already demanded a trade from a small-market once.

Boston isn’t necessarily a place Melo would like to stay long term, which is why they shouldn’t and likely won’t throw that many chips on the table to get him. Melo is 100% not worth either Nets pick considering his age and decline in production. But they can safely gamble on the Knicks desperation with a call and this offer an hour before the deadline. They really have nothing to lose from asking, and the return could potentially be enormous.

Melo won’t make the Celtics a title contender, but he is a second scoring option next to Isaiah Thomas and could help them grind through a few playoff series. Hell, maybe they’d even steal a few games from the Cavs in a Conference Finals with Melo taking some of the scoring burden from Thomas.

Hernangomez is a sneaky throw in here who could potentially help ease the Celtics’ rebounding woes. Depending on how much the Knicks value him, the C’s could start here and offer to add Kelly Olynyk, or allow themselves to be talked down to Marshall Plumlee (yuck) instead.

Celtics Get: Andrew Bogut, Pizzagate TruthismDallas Gets: Tyler Zeller, James Young, Celtics 2017 Second

Bring all the wack-jobs to Boston sports (as long as they bring rebounding and interior defense with them)!! Bogut’s skill set is the answer to the question: What are the Celtics missing this season? He’s an elite rebounder and defender who allows Al Horford to play his desired position for portions of the remainder of the season. He’s also a perfect rental considering his injury history, and he might come at a good price, considering there’s really no reason he’d be a part of the Mavs’ long term plans.

If this seems like a low-ball offer to the Mavs, you must know that I believe in James Young like Vivek Ranadive believes in Buddy Hield (I mean, not entirely, but you get the point). The Mavs are swapping an old big man with knee issues for a first rounder who hasn’t been able to show his full potential considering Boston’s treasure-trove of wings they’ve compiled alongside him. They’re also getting Tyler Zeller, who despite being borderline unwatchable as a basketball player, actually does good things about 65% of the time.

Add a second rounder in to sweeten the pot, and this deals feels consistent with each team’s interests and timeline (Although the Celtics should really try and add a provision here stating Bogut is absolutely never allowed to talk about politics ever again).

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