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CelticsBlog Roundtable: who should Boston target at the trade deadline or with their DPE?

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At the midway mark, the Celtics are atop the Eastern Conference and will have opportunities to get better over the next two months.

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The Celtics are 33-10 heading into Thursday’s London game against the Sixers. The trade deadline is a month away and the DPE expires a month after that. What should Boston target? A rim protector? A scoring wing? Do nothing?

Jeff Clark: I have a feeling that Danny Ainge is going to kick the tires on a number of players leading up to the deadline and we’ll have a continual stream of rumors to cover. However, when push comes to shove, he’ll probably pass on making a trade and wait to see who becomes available on the buyout market. They can outbid most contenders with the DPE and going that route saves them from giving up an asset like a pick or young player. I don’t think there’s any one glaring need on this team, but a scorer (Lou Williams) or center (Nerlens Noel) would be welcome if they became available.

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Matt Chin: Ersan Ilyasova and Greg Monroe raise my eyebrows.

Ilyasova’s shooting (39 percent on 3-pointers with 5.5 attempts per game) and glass-cleaning (12.8 rebounding percentage) are weapons that could be seamlessly incorporated into Stevens’ system. He doesn’t require a huge amount of usage, and he’s maintained steady production despite playing for six teams in nine seasons. Last season’s Bojan Bogdanovic trade is a good market price to work off of, so a top-20ish protected pick might get it done. Atlanta has no reason to keep him.

According to tracking metrics from Cleaning The Glass, Boston has only two players (Tatum and Brown) who rank better than the 67th percentile in scoring efficiency at the rim. Per Synergy, the Celts shoot off of post-ups on just 7.7 percent of possessions. Monroe is a bruising cinder block, who has a deft scoring touch around the hoop, vacuums rebounds, and can pass from the post. The Phoenix Suns have negligently depleted his value by racking up the DNP-CDs so he could be bought out any day. When he is, Danny Ainge should be knocking on Monroe’s door with that $8 million DPE.

Lou Williams, Tyreke Evans, Derrick Favors, or Nikola Mirotic would be nice, but acquiring one of them would come at a much higher price.

Keith Smith: At this point, no one is likely to return enough value that the team could acquire in a trade. The team should wait to use the DPE until buyout season. It is very likely someone like Greg Monroe will be available. He would provide automatic offense off the bench in the big rotation. Boston could offer more than any other team by virtue of the large amount of the DPE, which gives them a leg up on acquiring such a player.

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If the team goes trade, they should consider someone like Tyreke Evans. Memphis doesn’t really need him, he’s on a reasonable contract, and the cost to acquire him wouldn’t be that high. Most importantly, he fills a role as a scoring wing off the bench. All too often, Boston’s offense goes missing with the second unit. Guys like Monroe or Evans could go a long way towards stabilizing that.

Michael DePrisco: If the Celtics decide to make a trade with the DPE, I like the idea of Tyreke Evans or Lou Williams. I’m pretty sure both fit the criteria that would allow Boston to acquire them using the DPE, and I like what each of them would provide coming off the bench.

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Evans is having a great year, and would fit in nicely alongside Smart, Rozier, and Morris to provide scoring punch from the wing. Memphis reportedly wants a first round pick for Evans as they sit at the bottom of the West, and I would be fine giving up one of Boston’s own picks that would fall in the late first round to get him.

Williams I feel could be a solid backup plan, but one of the Celtics’ main weaknesses is bench scoring, and Evans or Williams would provide exactly that.

Simon Pollock: Okay, I’ll say it –I like the Celtics to stand pat at the deadline. Keep the DPE on hand for the scenario Keith mentioned. Keep the war chest full of assets for free agency next summer and beyond. Which player of sound skill and agreeable contract would Boston be willing give up? And if not a top talent, who in the buyers market is looking for one of the Celtics’ rotation players? Is there a team that wants to trade for Daniel Theis or Abdel Nader at the deadline?

Beyond Gordon Hayward, this team is far from broken.

Could Boston stand to improve? Certainly. There’s room for Kyrie Irving to give up a few shots in favor of another player who can create off the dribble (or at least be a threat to do so). And a rotational wing or big to keep help win the rebounding battle on a more consistent basis could shore up the hole left in the paint when Jaylen Brown has business to attend to out beyond the arc.

But look at the Celtics, Hayward-less and still strong at 33-10. They’ve made it this far, as Jeff Clark so eloquently wrote earlier this week, “...with Brad Stevens, precocious youth, and a little bit of luck.” At this point, unless a unicorn whose name rhymes with Shmanthony Shmavis is available, the Celtics strike me as a team that doesn’t need a trade deadline fix.

Bobby Manning: I get the Greg Monroe hype. He’s proven to be a handy grinder who accepts his role in the modern NBA. He’s able a reliable source of bench points which has been a need through sections of the season. That being said, I am extremely happy with the contributions of Aron Baynes/Daniel Theis as the role centers on this team and don’t want a known defensive liability thrust into the conversation at that position.

This is a wing/small-ball oriented team and here’s my problem: this team has not exhibited consistent play at the small-ball four even with Marcus Morris in the lineup. I’d love the see the Celtics get creative and establish a strong small-ball lineup because that will be crucial to Brad Stevens’ favorite lineup thriving in the postseason. Tyreke Evans is a popular option that I love because of his defensive background and ability to handle the ball and play across three positions which screams Stevens player. He’s even shooting this season, which is the loudest Stevens scream possible. He fits with the DPE, but if he requires any cost he may be an automatic no for Danny Ainge especially as a rental.

Nerlens Noel and Julius Randle intrigue me in that sense. The latter is more unlikely because it’s Celts-Lakers and that situation in LA will likely stretch into the summer, but both fit the bill of undervalued players who could find effective roles under Stevens in the front court on the DPE. Noel especially could likely be had for just the DPE and a minor pick. Unlike Monroe, Noel brings nobility, versatility defensively to cover power forwards and the all-heralded shot-blocking. His array of abilities on defense separate him from Baynes/Theis though his offensive limitations could hold him back as an option. I would not be stunned if the trade deadline is quiet this season.

Bill Sy: Generally, I agree with what everybody is saying: Ainge should save all his assets for something bigger down the road. Guerschon Yabusele, Semi Ojeleye, Daniel Theis, and Abdel Nader are all on team-friendly, long-term contracts and already shown promise this year, particularly Ojeleye and Theis. Including them in a band aid trade that could marginally help the Celtics this year would be foolish.

But utilizing the DPE in the buyout could be a crucial move, not just for the rest of the regular season and the playoffs, but next summer. Danny has been so good at chaining these transactions together. If he can find a vet with the Disabled Player’s Exception and convince him to re-sign next summer with the MLE or Non-Bird Exception. That’s the economics of it.

On the court, I’m really hoping for somebody that doesn’t necessarily fill a needed role, but elevates the game for the current players. Lou Williams is a bonafide firestarter as a 6th man, but how does he complement Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier? Tyreke Evans is having a bounce back year in Memphis, but like Williams, does he make Smart and Rozier better or just replace them in the second unit? Greg Monroe could be a great fit; he’ll help clean up the rebounding issues and will serve as a big target rolling to the rim on pick-and-rolls.