Lately, rumors have been rampant that the Hawks intend to blow up their team. I don’t really understand why they would, as they’re currently in fourth place in the Eastern Conference and eighth in the NBA in point differential at +2.7.
Yeah, three of their five starters are hitting free agency this offseason, and yeah, they don’t have a chance at winning the championship, but as of right now, they’re locks to win between six and ten playoff games.
Perhaps the Hawks are done settling for mediocrity and have decided that they either want a really good team or a really bad team. It makes sense, but it’s too bad that the NBA’s rules make being a run-of-the-mill good team something undesirable.
Anyways, what’s more interesting is that the Celtics have been rumored to be interested in trading for Al Horford. Does it make sense for them to do so?
Horford isn’t a superstar, but he’s definitely an elite player, and besides, unlike many players, his skill set allows him to fit into almost any team. Horford is something of a stretch-center, in that he’s capable of defending centers while being able to shoot threes on offense.
Naturally, that malleability is appealing to the Celtics, but what would they have to give up to get him?
Despite reports of Atlanta’s asking price for Horford being “borderline ridiculous,” as the trade deadline nears, it will likely drop to more reasonable levels. For Boston, that’ll mean an offer along the lines of the Dallas top-7 protected first rounder and a couple of rotation players.
Giving up two rotation players, such as Jonas Jerebko and Jared Sullinger, along with the Dallas pick will hurt, but a three-for-one will benefit the Celtics in another way. With all their picks and their current roster, the Celtics will soon have so many good players that they won’t be able to play them all. In fact, that’s a problem they face now, as solid players such as Jerebko and David Lee play less than sixteen minutes a game.
Trading for Horford means trading away three solid players for one very good one. For many teams, that wouldn’t be a good idea, but for the Celtics, it’s another bonus to the deal.
Some may say that it makes no sense for Boston to trade for Horford because it’s foolish to go all-in when they don’t have a chance at the championship. However, would it really be all-in?
If the deal we discussed earlier comes to fruition, the Celtics won’t come close to being “all-in”. They’ll keep their best long-term asset in the unprotected Nets first rounder, and their core of Marcus Smart, Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, and Jae Crowder will remain untouched.
The main roadblock to a Horford-to-Boston trade is Horford’s impending free agency. Still, that’s not a deal-breaker. The Celtics may trade for Horford anyways if they’re confident in that their team and culture will appeal to him and entice him to resign. Alternatively, similarly to the Goran Dragic trade last season, the Celtics can extract an unspoken promise from Horford that he’ll return in free agency.
Overall, it would make sense for Boston to trade for Horford, assuming that they don’t have to give up the Nets pick or part of their core, and if they know they’ll be able to keep him long-term. Otherwise, it’s too high a price to pay for three months of a very good center and a better shot at a run to the Eastern Conference Finals.