The Boston Celtics’ roster for the 2019-20 NBA season appears already set with newly-acquired All-Star point guard Kemba Walker expected to become the new leader of the team.

Still, many NBA analysts feel the Celtics aren’t done yet.

They believe Danny Ainge has still something under his sleeves. With the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers looking like the breakaway winners in the East this offseason, there's a growing belief that the Celtics general manager may be concocting a plan that would catapult the C’s to the top of the Eastern Conference pecking order.

The roster-building continues

Despite losing Kyrie Irving and Al Horford to free agency, Boston has rebounded pretty well with the acquisition of Walker (4-year, $141 million) and Enes Kanter (2-year, $10 million).

Ainge also seems to have struck gold in the backend of the 2019 NBA Draft and beyond as Carsen Edwards (33rd overall) and Tacko Fall (undrafted) put up strong numbers in Summer League and appear poised to crack Brad Steven’s rotation next season.

Boston’ lineup looks formidable with their projected starting five of Walker, Kanter, Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown, and Jayson Tatum. Marcos Smart will continue to be their stabilizer while Edwards - who has been a walking scoring machine at Purdue – will likely get the license to shoot coming off the bench.

All in all, the Celtics are solid. They aren’t as deep as they were last season, but the talent is still there for them to compete at the highest level.

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NBA Boston Celtics

But knowing Ainge’s competitive character, he won’t be content with just that. He would want his team to be in a position to contend in a wide-open Eastern Conference, especially with LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard – the catalysts in the East over the last nine years – now playing in Los Angeles.

He may not admit it, but missing on Leonard, Paul George and Anthony Davis hit him really hard. Losing Irving and Horford for nothing further added insult to his injury.

The pressure is on for Ainge to bring Boston closer to their 18th championship banner, and he knows that can only be done with another swing-for-the-fences move.

Precious Hayward

In case Ainge is really searching for the right maneuver, NBA writer Brad Botkin of CBS Sports has several trade proposals that might pique the Celtics GM’s interest.

Botkin thinks Hayward is going to be a very valuable trade chip for Ainge as he tries to balance out the makeup of the Celtics roster.

The NBA scribe thinks that Boston can shore up their lack of size and rim protector by dangling a fully healthy Hayward in trade talks.

“The Celtics are heavy on wings and super light on bigs. Hayward is making $32 million this year and has a $34 million player option next year, meaning the money would work with, say, a deal for Kevin Love. Perhaps a deal with Houston centered on Clint Capela. Maybe something with OKC for Steven Adams.

Would Orlando move off Mo Bamba and Evan Fournier to make the money work for a rejuvenated Hayward?,” Botkin said in one of several trade proposals he wrote for CBS Sports.

Boston, with all the talented wingmen they have in place, are sorely lacking in size.

Kanter may address that problem to some extent, though he’s not a natural rim protector. Robert Williams III is still young and the jury is out on Frenchman Vincent Poirier, who could be another flash in the pan European big man.

Acquiring a caliber of Kevin Love would provide the Celtics a bona fide All-Star forward who is a productive rebounder and efficient floor spacer. Steven Adams would bring toughness at the center spot, while Clint Capela would be a very good rim protector and pick-and-roll partner to Kemba Walker.

But the Hayward for Mo Bamba and Evan Fournier trade appear to be the most intriguing out of all the scenarios Botkin mentioned in his piece. It would be a win-win move for both squads with the Celtics getting a defensive-oriented prospect in Bamba and a perimeter threat in Fournier while the Magic finally landing a star to build around.

One thing is certain with all the trade brouhaha going around, Ainge will not rush in in trading Hayward – his prized acquisition of the 2017 free-agency class. He will give this team the chance to sink or swim this season.

Despite going through that gruesome leg injury, Hayward has just turned 29 and will have 3 to 4 years left in his prime. Setting a disappointing 2018-19 season aside, the forward’s performance through the first three to four months of the 2019-20 campaign will determine his fate whether he sticks in Boston or gets shipped elsewhere.

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