Danny Ainge has admitted this Boston Celtics roster needs an upgrade. We’ve discussed several players who could provide that upgrade on the trade market.
But it takes two to tango, and some players may be more difficult to trade for than others.
The Orlando Magic have “shown no interest” in trading big man Nikola Vucevic, while the Sacramento Kings feel similarly about veteran forward Harrison Barnes, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor reported Monday.
Vucevic and Barnes both fit Ainge’s desired mold of “shooting with size.” The 6-foot-11 Vucevic is averaging 24.1 points and shooting a career-high 40.3% from 3-point range for Orlando, while the 6-foot-8 Barnes is shooting 38.8% from deep. Our Chris Forsberg has laid out why both players would be great fits for the C’s as floor spacers who could take some offensive burden off Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
Yet O’Connor points out that Vucevic is “a favorite of Steve Clifford’s coaching staff” and is the “centerpiece” of Orlando’s offense. The Magic have resisted trading the 30-year-old star in years past despite their mediocre record, so his price tag might be high, and Ainge may not be willing to give up a key rotation player in a potential deal.
Meanwhile, the Kings are still in the Western Conference playoff hunt despite a seven-game losing streak and don’t appear to be sellers just yet. That could change if Sacramento continues to lose, but it seems the C’s would have to wait until closer to the March 25 trade deadline for Barnes to become available.
O’Connor notes Chicago Bulls veteran Thaddeus Young could be a target for Boston, and his $13.5 million contract could easily be absorbed in the team’s $28.5 million traded player exception.
But would adding a role player like Young be enough to get the 15-15 Celtics out of their current funk? Ainge has a little over a month to decide, but as the C’s continue to lose games, the clock is ticking.