Shamrock Shakeup: Celtics Hunt For Major Trade

If you believed every trade rumor you heard, you would think the Boston Celtics were the basketball equivalent of The Avengers.

The Celtics have been linked to almost every major free agent this offseason, and Danny Ainge has been making more phone calls than a creepy drunk ex-boyfriend. Beginning with Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, and the successful courting of Al Horford, Ainge has now reportedly moved on to two new potential signees: Russell Westbrook and Blake Griffin.
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So, why are we all of a sudden seeing so many players linked to the Celtics? The first part of that is an aggressive free agent strategy. Ainge realizes that the Celtics are one or two players away from becoming worthy adversaries to the Cavaliers, so he has been recruiting like we’ve never quite seen before. This hard work is what allowed the Celtics to sign Al Horford, a move that escalated them into a new tier of NBA teams. Rather than viewing the Celtics as a team that will tread water in the Eastern Conference, a.k.a every team besides Cleveland, players now view it as a favorable situation with an organization that has perhaps the richest history in all of the NBA. Horford was the first domino to fall, now the question is if he made enough of a shockwave for others to fall as well.

The chances of Westbrook leaving Oklahoma City this off-season are slim, but even the mere possibility of a player of his caliber leaving for another city is headline news. Additionally, given the crazy moves we’ve seen so far this off-season, nothing, and I mean nothing, can be ruled out. It has been rumored time and time again that Los Angeles is Westbrook’s premier landing spot, but a lot of this was reported before the Celtics suddenly became such an attractive destination. Also, thanks to some mild stalking by SB Nation and other media outlets, it was confirmed that Westbrook, Ainge, and Isaiah Thomas were all in San Diego at the same time. Something tells me they weren’t all there to see a Padres game.

While Westbrook is a reach as far as 2016-17 is concerned, the Celtics are set up to be major players in the Westbrook free-agency scramble next off-season. If Ainge has his sights set on getting the best player available, that might be the best move here. Westbrook doesn’t necessarily fit into Brad Stevens’ offense as well as other potential recruits do, but he is by far the most talented.

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The other major player the Celtics are reportedly targeting, Blake Griffin, is perhaps even more intriguing. Though he is not the prolific offensive threat that Westbrook is, Griffin compliments what the Celtics are trying to do much better. Horford is a great shooter, so that allows Griffin to do his thing in the paint, an area that has been his wheelhouse thus far in his pro career. Recent incidents aside, (hang in there, Celtics equipment managers), Griffin would have great chemistry in Boston. There wouldn’t be any particular player that is viewed as “the guy”, whereas with Westbrook it would be his show.

Finally, there is one more rumor that must be included in the realm of possibility. Ainge said he plans to make a big move, so if all else fails, Jahlil Okafor may be fair game. It might not be the first choice for the Celtics, but it certainly would be a big move. Nerlins Noel has also been floated as a possibility, but that would hardly be seen as a big move. Okafor, though he may not have blown anyone away in his rookie season, still has enormous star potential and with a roster that includes Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor, Nerlins Noel and Ben Simmons, it just seems like someone has to be the odd man out there.

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