Boston Celtics: 5 big men Danny Ainge could target using his wingmen as trade baits

Serge Ibaka is an intriguing trade target for the Celtics – (image credit: Serge Ibakafc/YouTube)
Serge Ibaka is an intriguing trade target for the Celtics – (image credit: Serge Ibakafc/YouTube)

Celtics GM hopes his current group of big men can hold their ground or he might dangle one of his wings in trade talks.

The Boston Celtics wing rotations still looked incredibly deep with Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward expected to battle out for the lion’s share of minutes at the three spot.

However, the off-season shuffles made by Celtics GM Danny Ainge have significantly weakened their frontline. Al Horford’s decision to join division rivals Sixers proved to be a bigger loss than Kyrie Irving’s defect to the Nets. Serviceable veteran big Aron Baynes is also gone after he was traded to the Suns for the purpose of creating space to sign Walker.

It looks like the Celtics are going to pin their hopes on Enes Kanter to become a reliable double-double man and defensive lynchpin. But then again, the Turk isn’t much known for protecting the rim. The jury is out for Daniel Theis, Vincent Poirer, and Robert Williams.

In a recent interview at WBUR’s CitySpace, Ainge said that he’s aware of his team’s thin frontline rotation. Still, the Celtics GM is hopeful their current set of bigs can hold their ground throughout the season. If not, then he could be forced to explore potential trades that would address that problem, perhaps at the expense of one of their talented wings.

“So the question is, do you trade for need or do you trade for talent?” Ainge told WBUR’s via NBC Sports. “Because I think we have some really talented wings. And we have some uncertainty at the 4 [power forward] and the 5 [center]. So, let’s hope our fours and fives can play as well as we hope they can and we can keep our talented wings because we need a lot of them.”

So let’s assume the Celtics make the trade call. Which potential trade target will have the biggest impact on Boston’s frontline. For that, here are five intriguing candidates to fill that gaping hole in the middle.

1

Serge Ibaka

He’s been one of the truly elite shotblockers in the league, averaging 2.2 blocks over a 10-year career. While Raptors president Masai Ujiri has insisted he has no plans trading his veterans, many analysts still believe Toronto will make a move if presented with an enticing trade offer. Ibaka would provide the Celtics the interior presence they direly need. Moreover, a move for him won’t compromise their salary flexibility since he’s on a $23.2 million expiring contract.

2

Marc Gasol

Again, a Raptors’ fire sale must happen first before the Celtics can ever get a chance at snatching this battle-tested veteran. Gasol is having the best summer for any basketball player, helping the Raptors clinch their first NBA title and on the verge of leading Spain to a gold medal at FIBA World Cup. Getting Gasol would be vital for the Celtics, especially if they play Joel Embiid and the Sixers in the playoffs.

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