The Boston Celtics are dominating the NBA media sphere at the moment, and for all the wrong reasons. After dropping yet more winnable games and making seemingly little progress despite some fairly substantial changes to the team’s front office, coaching staff, and rotation depth, analysts are beginning to wonder if trading as high a profile player as All-Star forward Jaylen Brown might actually be on the table.
One such thought experiment was conducted by host of the semi- eponymous ESPN “Lowe Post” podcast Zach Lowe with his guest, the esteemed Jeff Van Gundy. The former head coach and broadcaster debated if there were any potential trade packages out there that would be a solid deal for both sides, and found it was not such an easy task even if one believes such a move to be a wise one.
We, for the record, do not — but let’s look at some of what Lowe and Van Gundy had to say about several proposed trade packages.
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A number of potential targets just seemed too fraught to even spend much time on. Damian Lillard “has not had that great of a season by his standards,” even if his past is enough to at least warrant a meeting in Lowe’s estimation.
Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards are likely no-gos for the Minnesota Timberwolves, and Kyrie Irving is a non-starter for historical reasons.
Ben Simmons – Philadelphia 76ers
(AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
Simmons is an increasingly popular option for some, but Lowe suggests that Simmons alone is not enough given the 76er’s established record as a wilting flower in high-pressure situations.
“Boston watched the playoffs, and played Philadelphia in the playoffs with Ben Simmons, (and) has access to the video footage of Ben Simmons melting into a quivering pile of sweat under the basket against the Hawks,” reminds the ESPN analyst.
De’Aaron Fox (and unnamed stuff) – Sacramento Kings
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While “De’Aaron Fox and a bunch of stuff from the Kings” might sound like a jumping-off point, this suggestion was one of the least fleshed-out options presented by Lowe.
Throwing in a pick or two, Davion Mitchell and Harrison Barnes while expanding the deal on Boston’s end might get the Celtics’ to not hang up the phone, but would the right kind of deal for Boston even interest Sacramento to ask about?
A Brooklyn Nets-like trade with the Golden State Warriors
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Boston would not be the first team speculation concerning swapping a package built around the Warriors’ youth in Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody, James Wiseman, and/or Andrew Wiggins.
Per Lowe’s admission, this would hinge on the Celtics’ wanting to “take a step back and get a lot of stuff,” which the podcast host does not see happening.
A similar deal with the Memphis Grizzlies
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Lowe’s favorite landing spot for Brown would be with the Griz in a deal bringing back Zaire Williams, Desmond Bane, De’Anthony Melton, “salary filler, three first-round picks … and a couple of swaps”.
This idea was shot down by Van Gundy, who said “I think you need depth in the NBA to win in the regular season, particularly when considering that Brown misses not-insignificant stretches of most NBA seasons due to injury.
We also think fans might blow a gasket dealing Brown for a player they technically already drafted.
Or maybe the Cleveland Cavaliers?
(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Lowe also thinks that the Cleveland Cavaliers “would have interest in Jaylen Brown” but doesn’t “know what the trade is like” given all the players Boston would likely want the Cavs will need to keep.
Even Jarrett Allen, who is on a decent contract and growing into a more reliable player probably would not appeal to Boston given Robert Williams III is a comparable player earning much less per season.
Getting value for young stars on the rise is a fraught proposition
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Lowe’s thought experiment was, at its core, a great example of why it is so hard to move a young player on the rise for a deal that would make sense for the Celtics, and reinforced the perspective of those who believe the team needs to try other avenues first.
Still, Lowe’s final conclusion about it not being worth moving on from Brown at this juncture included one tidbit every Boston fan will agree with — “the Celtics have just got to play better because this is ugly.”