5 bigs Celtics could target in a trade

Nick Friar
December 14, 2019 - 11:26 am

Steven Adams is not realistic at this time. He’d be a tremendous addition, but he makes too much money. The Thunder would need one of Boston’s significant pieces in return. That’s not happening.

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Barring a third team getting involved — which still might not resolve the matter — Adams coming to Boston seems like nothing more than a dream right now.

Other known names on teams potentially looking to make a deal, but likely won’t work for the C’s because of money, are Cleveland’s Tristan Thompson and Larry Nance Jr., New Orleans’ Derrick Favors, and Chicago’s Thad Young.

Yes, Kevin Love is reportedly available, but he doesn’t make sense. Boston doesn’t need another big who can score.

Here are five realistic options, who are solid defenders — which is exactly what the Celtics would need out of a newly acquired big:

Jakob Poeltl, San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs have been one of the biggest disappointments this year. If DeMar DeRozan is on the market, almost anyone on San Antonio’s roster could be, as well.

Poeltl is only making $3.8 million, so it won’t be difficult to match up the money. But the Spurs will probably want young talent, maybe even a pick, too.

He has 33 blocked shots this year, tied for 14th-most in the league. But, he’s logged almost half as many minutes as Anthony Davis, who leads the NBA with 66 blocks.

Nerlens Noel, Oklahoma City Thunder

First off, he’s a Massachusetts guy. Second, he’s cheap. Third, he’s without a doubt the best shot-blocker on this list — he has 36 blocks in fewer minutes than Poeltl.

There was a lot of hype surrounding Noel when he was in college and he’s never really lived up to that. But over the last two years in Oklahoma City, he’s blossomed into one of the NBA’s better defensive bigs off the bench.

Mike Muscala might be available out of OKC, as well, but Noel is more appealing.

Jake Layman, Minnesota Timberwolves

Layman isn’t a shot-blocker like Poeltl and Noel, but he’s a versatile defender. Though, as much as none of these guys on this list are perfect, being a legitimate threat in the lane is an important quality for the Celtics at this time.

Layman — who’s battling a toe injury, right now — can provide some offense, as well. 

Also, the Timberwolves are sputtering, but they were in contention for a playoff spot a bit ago. They might be more inclined to hold off on any trades for a while. Especially with Layman, who’s not on an expiring deal.

Noah Vonleh, Layman’s teammate, may also be available. He can defend the perimeter well, but he isn’t much of a rim presence, either. (For what it’s worth, Vonleh and Layman are Mass-natives like Noel, too.)

Skal Labissiere, Portland Trail Blazers

Labissiere isn’t in the top-25 in blocks like Noel and Poeltl, but that speaks more to how good those two are at blocking shots.

Labissiere is averaging 2.0 blocks per 36 minutes. He’s a legitimate presence in the paint.

(Danny Ainge has to at least kick the tires on him, given his first name.)

Moritz Wagner, Washington Wizards

Wagner has a worse defensive rating (111.6) than anyone on the Celtics. Legit everyone. (Not a good place to start the conversation, I know.)

But he has one of the better defensive ratings on the Wizards, who are a miserable 7-16. A change in scenery might help bring that number down.

Like Layman, Wagner isn’t on an expiring deal, so Washington may be less inclined to move him — even though they’re not likely to make the playoffs.

Poeltl and Noel are, without a doubt, the best two options on this list, for what the Celtics need. Between the two, Noel’s athleticism makes him a bit more appealing.

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