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Welcome to Trade Deadline Day: Dennis Schroder, Terrence Ross, and the luxury tax

Orlando Magic v Boston Celtics Photo by Chris Marion/NBAE via Getty Images

Welcome to Trade Deadline Day or if you’re so inclined, “What Are The Celtics Going To Do About Dennis Schroder” Day.

With Marcus Smart back from a stint in the league’s health and safety protocols, Boston has won eight of their last nine games and by most accounts, it seems unlikely that President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens would break up a fivesome that has registered an impressive 29.6 net rating (117.5 offensive, 87.9 defensive) unless something franchise-altering came across his desk.

For now, Dennis Schroder seems to be the bellwether of what the Celtics want to do before today’s trade deadline with two questions hanging in the balance: 1) will Boston be buyers or sellers and 2) does Stevens (and Celtics ownership) consider this team to be a contender, fringe or as the fourth best percentage to raise the Larry O’Brien per FiveThirtyEight, enough to go into the luxury tax? What they do with Schroder could be the tipping point.

Unlike the starters and other rotational players (including Josh Richardson and Grant Williams) that are signed through next season, Schroder is on a one-year expiring contract for $5.9 million, making him the most likely trade chip today. On one hand, with the Celtics playing so well, Boston could opt to keep Schroder, play out the rest of the regular season, and ride with this team as-is into the playoffs. On the other, Schroder is valuable enough a piece that he could return an impact player for this year or the future.

In what could be his final game in green, Schroder had a tidy 11 points and 1 assist in 19 minutes against the Nets on Tuesday night; for what it’s worth (read: the haters), he was a minus-19 in a game that Boston won by 35 points. After averaging over 30 minutes a game through December and earning several spot starts that included game-changing performances, his playing time has been reduced with the team now at full health. Over the last fifteen games, Schroder is averaging just 24 minutes a night, but playing at an efficient level (11 points per game on 47% from the field including 42% from behind the arc). He’s squarely in Ime Udoka’s eight-man rotation and if the Celtics want to make noise in the playoffs, he’d presumably be a key component of that run. Former Boston Herald and Heavy’s Steve Bulpett suggested yesterday that Udoka has campaigned internally to retain the backup PG.

However, with Payton Pritchard waiting in the wings and limited resources available to re-sign Schroder, Stevens could make a somewhat significant move with Schroder before 3 pm EST. Per Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix, Schroder is no longer a salary dump candidate and Stevens will be looking for a win-now piece rather than just a draft pick down the road.

Late Wednesday night, The Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn reported that the Celtics front office is working on a trade package to bring in the Magic’s Terrence Ross that could include Schroder, a young player, and a draft pick. “Ross is the Celtics’ primary target as trade talks intensify,” Washburn writes. “But it’s uncertain what the Magic will want in return, and how many suitors will be in the running for Ross.” According to CelticsBlog’s own Keith Smith, teams are hoping that the price drops to two second round picks and there’s a possibility that an earlier framework of a Dennis Schroder-Donte DiVincenzo swap could be revisited by the Celtics and Bucks.

As Stevens has continued to reiterate throughout the year, he won’t make a move unless it pushes the Celtics closer to raising Banner 18. Swapping out Kemba Walker for Horford was the right move. Passing on re-signing Evan Fournier and bringing in Josh Richardson has worked out. Extending Robert Williams and Marcus Smart solidified the future of the franchise. Today, the next big decision is what to do with Dennis Schroder and while he is a very polarizing player, it’s easy to see either path as the right one.

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