After losing the Eastern Conference Finals to the Cavaliers, the Boston Celtics enter the offseason needing a superstar to take the next step. Can a trade for New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony be the answer?
Since the Boston Celtics last won the NBA Championship 10 years ago in 2008, they, along with only three other franchises in the Eastern Conference, have made the NBA Finals. Those teams are the Orlando Magic, Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers. In the past seven years, LeBron James was on those NBA Finals rosters for both the Heat and Cavaliers.
The goal amongst the East is to find a way to get past the best player in the NBA over the past decade and his team which hasn’t been easy. The Celtics are the latest victim to lose a conference finals to a LeBron James-led team. On paper, they might have the group and the coach who are the closest to ever defeating LeBron and the Cavaliers, but the answers remain on what can be done to actually achieve that goal.
The Boston Celtics enter the offseason with important questions going forward. They were awarded the number one pick in the NBA Draft next month as they own the pick that was the Brooklyn Nets. They also have drafted young talent with prior Nets picks they owned from the Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett trade. In addition, they also own one more first-round pick of the Nets for 2018 along with their own in that year, plus three first round picks in 2019.
Celtics general manager Danny Ainge has kept every asset valuable as he wants to build a young core. That young core is lacking a superstar and last summer’s free agent signing of Al Horford is not enough for Ainge to get the team where he wants to be.
That is when the call to a division rival the New York Knicks is made. Knicks president of basketball operations Phil Jackson wants to trade Carmelo Anthony for anything he can possibly get back of an aging superstar. He has two years remaining on his five-year contract he signed in 2014 with the last year being a player option. Melo has never played in the NBA Finals and the Knicks are rebuilding around Kristaps Porzingis.
If he wants to win a title, it probably won’t happen in New York anytime soon. Phil Jackson might catch the Celtics desperate enough to want to consider the move and while major trades are hardly made within a division, this might work out for both teams involved.
The Knicks in recent years have lacked draft picks through mistakes made by previous regimes. One thing Phil Jackson hasn’t done in his time with the Knicks is trade top picks. He is now in a position to get assets and with Anthony his best chip, what is his real value on the market? What is Danny Ainge ready to part with to get his team in serious title mode?
Those are both questions that both heads of basketball need to answer before entertaining these talks.
The Celtics should not trade the top pick in this draft for Anthony or any other player but those future first-round picks might be valuable to start a deal around. Losing this Eastern Conference Finals to the Cavaliers might have the Celtics willing to take a gamble on Carmelo Anthony to be the superstar they have been looking for.
They would also need to take a good look at the roster and see who is important for the future of this team going forward. Key players including Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Tyler Zeller are all free agents next summer. The way Thomas has played he can clearly get a max contract but can the Celtics afford to do that based on other needs? Players like Bradley and Zeller could turn into potential trade chips along with former first round pick Marcus Smart. They will also have as of now the top pick of this draft on the roster to add to the group of assets.
The Knicks would benefit one way or another in this scenario because they would get players on expiring contracts and it gives flexibility going forward. The other area of strength from this is solid players off a good team that can help the Knicks work their way back to the playoffs along with another first-round pick.
As difficult as the last three seasons have been for Phil Jackson and the Knicks, maybe this offseason they will finally start to see things working to their advantage. The window is closing on Carmelo Anthony and the prime of his NBA career.
If Phil Jackson can catch Danny Ainge and the Celtics aggressive to add a big name this summer, it can lead to only good things for both franchises.
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