• Tue. Jul 14th, 2020

Why the Boston Celtics should Pursue Nikola Vucevic in the Offseason

The Boston Celtics are surprising everyone this year with their stellar regular season performance so far. Their expectations are higher than ever with the breakouts of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. They acquired Kemba Walker in the off-season and Gordon Hayward is looking like a good player again. The Celtics are a great team with some of the most dangerous young talent in the NBA.

Because of their performance this season, many NBA fans are speculating the Celtics to make it far in the Playoffs. 

That’s not going to happen.

The Celtics have one major hole in their lineup. They lack a talented Center. Daniel Theis is a good player, but he doesn’t stand a chance against players like Joel Embiid or Bam Adebayo. Since he is only 6’8. He would struggle mightily against Serge Ibaka or Marc Gasol as well.

Their other Center is Enes Kanter, who is a solid offensive player, but defensively, is a liability at best. They also have Robert Williams, but Williams has been injured for a lot of the season, and like Daniel Theis, the dude is only 6’8 and would get his butt kicked by the taller and more dominant Centers in the NBA.

Because they didn’t make a move during this year’s trade deadline, don’t expect the Celtics to make it so far in the playoffs. Despite what the Rockets think, a Center is necessary to win games. The Celtics had all of the assets in the world to trade for a Center, but stupidly, they didn’t. They’re going to lose in the first or second round of the playoffs this year, but next year, they will have a much better shot at the title.

There is one player who may well get traded in the off-season. He is a former All-Star and is stalling a former 6th overall picks’ development.

Nikola Vucevic.

Icon Sportswire / Getty

Vucevic’s value peaked last year after he made his first and only All-Star appearance. Averaging 20.8 points, 12.0 rebounds, and 3.8 assists, he was considered one of the better free agents in the stacked 2019 free-agent class. He also shot a very impressive 51.8% on his shot attempts and 36.4% from deep.

This season, however, has not been the same for the 6’11 Center. This season, he is averaging a meager 19.1 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 3.7 assists, despite the minutes increasing a bit. The 29-year-old is only shooting 45.8% and 33.8% from deep. His decrease in production has led many to believe that his four-year, $100,000,000 contract he signed in the offseason to be an overpay. His contract is front-loaded, though, so it actually will decrease from $28,000,000 to $22,000,000 over the next several years.

If the Orlando magic just signed him last year, why on earth would they trade him?

Well, the Orlando Magic have a 21-year-old Center who was drafted 6th overall in the 2018 NBA Draft. 

Mohammad Bamba.

John Raoux/Associated Press

Bamba is considered a bust up to this point in his career, but that’s not really his fault. Bamba only got 16.3 minutes of action each game last year and was injured. This year, he is getting just 14.9 minutes and hasn’t sustained an injury yet. The Magic do currently hold the #8 seed in the Eastern Conference, but they seemed to have embraced their rebuild. They acquired solid players like Markelle Fultz, Jonathan Isaac, and Aaron Gordon, all of whom are under the age of 25. Gordon’s future with Orlando is in question, but the Magic have built a decent young core. The one young player that hasn’t gotten enough minutes is Mo Bamba.

The Magic need more talented young players if they want to really be a dangerous team in the future. Bamba hasn’t really gotten a chance to show what he can do in his career and it is because he is stuck behind Vucevic. If the Magic want to be a real contender in the future, then they need to get rid of him.

That is where the Celtics come in. They could really use a Center and Vucevic would make them legit contenders in the East. Vucevic and Tatum combined may be able to stand up to the might of the Greek Freak if they can catch him on a bad series.

The two sides mutually benefit from a trade like this, as Boston has collected more young players and picks than they know what to do with. A trade between the two teams could look like this:

Boston receives two players that really make them a dangerous for next season. Evan Fournier is a great scorer, averaging 18.8 points per game on 40.8% shooting from deep. He will be Smart’s replacement as the key guard off the bench. He is the exact opposite of Smart, being a great scorer and a meh defender, but his production will be very useful for the Celtics. They also receive Vucevic to finally give them that starting Center to contend with. Vucevic is the perfect fit for the Celtics as they want a big man who cans stretch the floor. The floor spacing will be a nightmare for opposing defenses that won’t be able to handle five All-Star-caliber players that can all hit the long ball.

The Magic receives three assets to build with during their rebuild. Langford has been disappointing, but has talent and will be a nice asset if he can get going. Smart has already proven himself to be a great energy player for a team that can get the momentum started. They also get Boston’s first-round pick and a second-round pick. They will acquire lots of building blocks for their future and become a real contender down the road. They also finally get to give Bamba some minutes for him to develop and maybe become the star everyone thought he would become.

The Celtics need to shake things up if they want a chance at the title Vucevic will be a great addition for the team and the Celtics really should look into it if they want to contend.