Kemba Walker’s Roller Coaster Start of a Season

The Celtic’s Kemba Walker had a slower start to the season than most. He was late to the party because of his knee issues and had a tough time getting himself back to game speed. Of course, that’s when the calls to trade him were becoming audible screams by the “Celtics Faithful” to trade away one of the team’s best players. Well lately, his value has started to rise and he looks to be back to his old self. Kemba Walker is starting to mirror performances from last season looking like the all-star that Boston was accustomed to see. However, with the overall progress that Brown and Tatum have had this year many fans are losing patience. They want results now and are blaming Kemba for the the team problems. With the trade deadline just two weeks away, let’s look at some scenarios.

Joe and I decided to look at a couple of trades together and talk about which ones we could buy and which ones we would sell. We tried to be realistic and use Kemba Walker in each trade and did not look into using the TPE. For this exercise we decided to do three trades centered around players that have been in Celtics rumors. Then we addressed two trades which we believe would be a little far fetched but we would like to see happen. All of these transactions have been run through the ESPN Trade Machine and are successful trades.

Joe: First things first, there is no definite indication of Walker being traded and if he is going to continue to play the way he has as of late, I want him in a Celtics Uniform. I’m not letting you fools bully someone else out of Boston as you did with Hayward. 

Peter: Could not agree more. Sure Kemba Walker has struggled early on this season. But, unless you can get another scorer of his caliber or a couple of role players this trade seems unlikely. Celtics fans like to point out the struggles of Kemba Walker so let’s address the elephant in the room. In his first ten games Kemba was a shell of himself. He was averaging 15 points / 3.5 rebounds / 4.3 assists / 34% FG% / 30% 3P% with 2.2 3PM. Kemba had games going 3-13, 2-12, as well as 1-12. With Boston losing a plethora of games, the fans wanted answers.

The easy way out is to blame Kemba but let’s now look at his ten games since. Kemba is averaging 21.9 points / 3.7 rebounds / 4.8 assists / 43% FG% / 41% 3P% with 3.7 3PM. It is almost as if Kemba’s knee injury from the beginning of the year was affecting his play. His explosiveness that many fans have seen from the last ten years was hindered by his lingering knee problems.

Before people call for Kemba’s head, let’s remember what Joe said. The same fools bullied Hayward out of Boston and thought Jeff Teague and Tristian Thompson would be the answer. I like Thompson a lot but his scoring ability is as limited as mine at my local YMCA. Then there is Jeff Teague. I am not even mad at him anymore but just disappointed. Jeff Teague does not even look like he would be the first pick at any local YMCA these days.

A Kings Ransom: Harrison Barnes

Harrison Barnes has the size and scoring ability that the Celtics desperately need

Sacramento gets- Kemba Walker, Grant Williams, PICKS TBD

Boston gets- Harrison Barnes, Jabari Parker, Jahmi’us Ramsey

The First trade involves a name that has been tossed around Boston more than Michael’s secret stuff in Space Jam. Harrison Barnes has been named in trade rumors for a little while now with Boston as one of the top spots for him to land. The Celtics could use some size at the forward spot and Barnes provides that. Barnes would provide size down low and help boost the defense which has been uncharacteristically abysmal before the break. His 16 PPG average on 49% shooting would provide a boost to the bench scoring. The eight-year vet would also surely add some experience and wisdom to the roster. 

Joe: I think that if Boston can find a way to pull off this trade, it could add some bench scoring depending on what the Celtics get out of Jabari Parker. He was a good role player in Atlanta last season before getting traded to Sacramento and hasn’t been able to find a solid spot in the rotation since. Jahmi’us would be an interesting pickup. A rookie guard that shot 44% from the field and 43% from three in college could be a fun prospect to work with or at least someone to develop and trade later down the line. I think Kemba, Grant, and a first-round pick in the next three years would do it.

Peter: This was one of my favorite trades to look at. Barnes is a proven winner and has been successful outside of Golden State. Getting him as a potential starter or bench player would be very impactful. But the part that I find the most intriguing is Jabari Parker. As Joe mentioned the bench scoring with Jabari Parker could be a great pick up for us. He has had a scoring touch before so it is not out of the question he gets it back. No he is not the product he was at Duke but he could bolster this bench with his scoring.

Averaging 15 ppg and 6 rpg with the Hawks last season and shooting 54% from the field while only getting 26 minutes a game is solid and would benefit the Celtics. The best part for Jabari for me is that he is only 25 years old. I am not saying he can be a starter or match his numbers from Atlanta last year, however if you have seen the Celtics bench a 6 foot 8 in power forward with scoring abilities could be exactly what this team needs. This trade could also work with the Hayward TPE which would add a large bench piece and give you the possibility of also keeping Kemba.

Many Front Office folks from around the league are hearing rumblings about the Celtics interest in Barnes.

The Motor City Bad Boy: Jerami Grant

Jerami Grant is scoring 24 ppg and having annual salary of $19 million giving the Celtics a lot to think about

Detroit get- Kemba Walker, Aaron Nesmith, PICKS TBD

Boston get- Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee, Jahlil Okafor, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk

This next possible target has been making some waves recently and is having a heck of a season this year with his new team. Jerami Grant is playing lights-out basketball for the Detroit Pistons. He is shooting 43% from the field while putting up 23.4 PPG. He adds 5 rebounds a game and 3 assists too. It would be interesting to see what his role would be in Boston. Grant just signed a three-year deal with the Pistons this off-season.

This year he is owed $19 Million which would fit into the TPE but you’d have to wonder what Detroit is looking for in return. Boston would most likely have to offload some salary so keep that in mind. At 26 years old, Grant could be a piece the Celtics could use. He fits into the timeline with the Jays and provides league experience which is more useful than most think. He’s also balled out against Boston all season and I’m sure Coach Brad Stevens wouldn’t mind not having to defend him in the future.

Joe: I’m not gonna lie when I saw that Boston wanted Jerami Grant I was excited. If Danny Ainge can make this work I wouldn’t mind it. Not sure if I want all those bigger players coming with him, to be honest. Mason Plumlee is playing pretty well but we don’t have room for another center without trading one away and he wouldn’t add anything that the Celtics need. Jahlil Okafor and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk aren’t much to look at and if this is the only way that the Celtics can get Grant then kiss that dream goodbye.

Peter: Seeing Jerami Grant and Celtics rumors all over my twitter last week almost brought tears of joy to my eyes. Then I saw his stats and his salary which then led to my mouth dropping. Only $19 million a year? Two years remaining on it after this one!?!?! I got very excited and I tried to figure out all the different scenarios where the Celtics could grab him.

Sadly in the scenario above I side with Joe. I think that getting Grant would be great and a realistic goal under the salary cap. However, giving up Kemba for him would be tough because of the matching of salaries. I personally do not think Danny Ainge will get a deal in place this deadline for Grant. However, I do find it is very interesting that Grant’s salary would fit under the Hayward TPE. This means we should maybe look for Grant during the off-season. Maybe Detroit will go full tank mode. Then Danny can take his chance at Grant but it won’t be easy. 

It does seem like the Celtics are going all in on Grant though but do not want to involve Kemba in the deal.

Orlando’s Vucci Mane: Nikola Vučević 

Nicknamed Vucci Mane, Vuc has been an unstoppable force this year receiving his second all star game nod

Orlando get- Kemba Walker, Grant Williams, PICKS TBD

Boston get- Nikola Vučević, Al-Farouq Aminu, Dwayne Bacon

Nikola Vucevic has been a name thrown around by Celtics fans and beat writers alike. He is currently on an Orlando team that was never able to figure it out and is likely heading towards a rebuild. Vucevic could be the big-ticket asset should the Magic go into a fire sale. Vuc was named an All-Star this year and has been the Magic’s best player all year. NBA media have touched on the topic of the big man leaving Orlando via trade for about a month now and the interest kings have thrown their hat into the ring as they do all the time. Vuc is having a career year in Orlando averaging close to 25 PPG shooting 48% from the field and 43% from behind the three-point line. 

Joe: Vuc would be a nice spacing big to have. He is a great shooter and can defend pretty well. He matches up pretty well against Joel Embiid going 5-6 in their meetings all time. It would be interesting to see if that trend continues if and when Vuc comes to Boston. That should be the deciding factor when trading for a big.

Since all of you pocket GMs think that all the Celtics need is a center you have to take into account the playoff matchups. If Al-Farouq Aminu is coming to Boston he needs a new nickname there is only one Chief in Boston and it’s not him sorry bud. Dwayne Bacon could be a good contributor off the bench. He is averaging a career-high 10 PPG while playing 24 MPG. If I were Boston I would try to get Orlando to throw in someone like Evan Fournier or even like Mo Bamba since he is younger and fits the timeline better.

Peter: Vuc has been a name that has been in Celtic’s fans heads since the departure of Kyrie Irving. Many thought that Vucevic was the primary target for Boston during free agency that season. We soon learned it was actually Kemba Walker. Joe mentioned he has matched up well versus Embiid who has been a matchup nightmare for the Celtics. Regardless of the record he has versus Boston Joel eats us alive and getting Vuc would be big. Now Vuc is a great big man who does all the right things. He can stretch the floor, he can get rebounds, he scores, he does it all.

I am not saying that the NBA skills challenge is a true reflection on a player’s ball handling/playmaking ability. It does though gives us some tape to look at. Many NBA fans do not get the chance to see Vuc play often and do not appreciate his play. Having Vuc in Boston would give them three players who average 24 ppg and all of them can shoot the three ball. The only other team in the NBA who would have that, the Brooklyn Nets trio of Harden, Irving and Durant. That is pretty good company to be in. 

Shams Charania confirmed the interest that the Celtics had in Vuc.

Minnesota’s Miserable Giant: Karl-Anthony Towns

Towns has always put up big numbers but due the rest of his team he has not had a fair shot in the playoffs

Boston gets- Karl-Anthony Towns

Minnesota gets- Kemba Walker, Pick(s)

Joe: Look, it’s starting to look more like Minnesota is gonna have to rebuild and I think that Anthony Edwards is a good building block he’s electrifying enough to put fans in the stands, and with some extra help and a better roster he could be a good piece on a great team. Karl-Anthony Towns would be the best pickup Danny Ainge could get (aside from Bradley Beal). Towns is shooting 49% from the field and 37% from three. He can space the floor and defend. He is averaging 1.7 BPG this season and has an average of 1.5 BPG for his career.

I imagine a scenario where Timelord and Towns would be the centers of the future for Boston. I would imagine that the Celtics would have to throw in at least one first-round pick for the Timberwolves to even think about the trade, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take. History has a tendency to repeat itself and, well the last time the Celtics traded for a player from Minnesota they won it all.

Peter: First off I love the KAT idea above. Once in a generation big man like himself does not grow on trees and getting him would be huge. He seems upset in Minnesota and the front office may need to go in a different direction. Thinking about Timelord and Towns as the centers for the future would help me fall asleep at night and give the Celtics much needed help around the basket.

The media has portrayed as KAT soft but that could be a false narrative because of where he is playing. I believe being on a contending team could boost his play up on both ends of the floor. Additionally I think this could help his resume and get Boston over the hump.  It may cost a fortune but I believe getting KAT to team up with the Jays as your main core could be a force to reckon with across the league. 

The Wild Wild West: Kristaps Porziņģis 

The Unicorn has had an up and down career but coming to Boston could be just what he needs

Boston gets- Kristaps Porziņģis 

Dallas gets-Kemba Walker, Grant Williams, Picks

Joe: Porzingis would provide a vital piece for Boston but with the hefty price tag that comes with him is he really worth it? Giving up Kemba without getting a replacement seems pretty on-brand for the Celtics given their recent transaction history. If Boston can pull off this trade while getting some sort of scoring to replace Kemba then we’re talking some serious buisness. I wrote an article about the idea of the unicorn coming to Boston when it was reported that the Mavs were shopping the Center to gauge value.

Peter: Now for Kristaps, boy do I love this trade. First Kristaps has shown his ability to shoot and get to the rim scoring 20 ppg this year. His shooting numbers could improve as he shoots 46.9% from the field and 34.9% from beyond the arc. However, he could truly fill a void we have been missing in big men for a while. He is 7 foot 3 in, only 25 years old, and can play power forward and center. He has been regarded as one of the most unique prospects of the last decade. I think that he has tried to resurrect his career in Dallas and it has worked to an extent. But, personally I think Kristaps is not the right guy to build around Luka and Dallas should go in a different direction with their other max spot.

Both teams get something they need: a scorer and a guard for Dallas, and a big for Boston. Getting Grant on the side could help Dallas and maybe they can solidify him as a good bench player. I think Grant has a max potential of PJ Tucker and that he can play in this league for years to come. Kemba for Kristaps makes sense contract wise and both are “struggling” to reach Boston and Dallas’ fans expectations respectively. Overall a change of scenery would be beneficial for both parties. I believe that Dallas getting Grant as well as first round picks would help propel the trade into motion. Plus getting first round assets could help them find a new star in a trade package in the coming years to pair with Luka. 

For more content regarding the Boston Celtics and Boston sports in general follow @petevanseventer and @JoePalencia13 on Twitter!

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Peter van Seventer

1 Comment

    nice column

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