Wow, what a day. That was one of the most epic NBA trade deadlines ever – which is saying something, because pretty much every year is bonkers.
You really can’t look away from Twitter for more than a few minutes. If you do, chances are you’ll miss some sort of fireworks.
Kevin Durant heading to Phoenix is obviously the biggest storyline, but there are several other moves that could significantly affect both the landscape of the league and the Celtics moving forward.
Here are ten Celtics-centric thoughts about what went down:
1) Sometimes, less is more.
Let’s start with the Celtics themselves. They didn’t do anything too crazy, but the truth is, they didn’t have to. Bringing in Mike Muscala was the perfect low-risk, medium-reward move they needed to make.
Trading for someone like Jakob Poeltl, Rui Hachimura or Jae Crowder might have been a bit more splashy, but they didn’t need to make a splash. They needed one more rotational piece who fits their style, and that’s what they got.
It’s possible they’ll add another, but if they do, it likely won't be anything crazy.
2) Don't sleep on Mike Muscala.
Most people seem to think Muscala will mainly be used in the regular season, but I’m not so sure. There aren’t too many legit 7-footers who are truly excellent shooters.
Muscala may not be the best defender of all-time, but he’s a sniper. I’d love to see him with Malcolm Brogdon, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Al Horford, for instance. All five guys can shoot the lights out, and defenses have to pick their poison.
3) Should Phoenix be considered the favorite now?
It’s an intriguing thought, but I still say the Celtics are the frontrunners at the moment. Phoenix technically has more stars, but Boston has the best player, the better blend of skills and more depth.
Plus, Phoenix has to get through a Western Conference that became way more loaded. Vegas gives the Celtics the best odds to win it all, the Bucks second and Suns third. I’d agree with that order.
If it is a Celtics-Suns Finals, holy smokes. That could be an all-timer.
4) Does Jae Crowder help the Bucks match up better with the Celtics?
Crowder is one of the better wing defenders in the NBA, and I believe Milwaukee had the Celtics in mind when they acquired him. When Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton have to guard Tatum and Brown, they exert so much energy on that end that it inevitably affects their offense.
Putting Crowder on one of them could give the Bucks a competitive advantage. However, it’s not enough to put them over the top. The Celtics still have the edge, but the gap got a little smaller.
5) What’s going to happen to the Nets?
Brooklyn has some great young talent in Cam Thomas, Mikal Bridges, Nic Claxton and Cam Johnson and some great veteran talent in Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, Joe Harris and Patty Mills (OK, Ben Simmons, too).
All that’s missing is say, one or two generational scorers, and this could be a championship team (sorry, too soon?). But seriously, don’t count the Nets out. They’re currently fifth in the East, at 33-22, and are too good to be bad. Yes, they’re rebuilding, but they’re also competing.
The Celtics absolutely owned the Durant and Kyrie Irving-led Nets. Though the “rivalry” might take a step back, don’t count these Nets out entirely. This is a team that could possibly give Boston a tougher battle than many expect if they meet in the first round.
Relax, relax. I’m not saying the Nets would win, but I don’t think it would automatically be a sweep.
6) Jalen McDaniels was an underrated pickup.
The 76ers prioritized offense and gave up some defense when they acquired Jalen McDaniels and parted ways with Matisse Thybulle.
McDaniels is a talented playmaker who should see a significant role. He’ll get open looks playing alongside Joel Embiid and James Harden, and he’s another dude the Celtics have to worry about.
The 76ers initially viewed Thybulle as a dominant wing defender. While he’s a good defender, that skill ultimately wasn’t enough to compensate for his other shortcomings in Philadelphia.
7) Is the West better than the East?
Early in the season, for the first time in a while, it was fair to say that the East was better than the West.
What about now? I’d give the slight edge to the West, but I still think it’s pretty close. The West has more teams capable of winning it all (Nuggets, Grizzlies, Mavericks, Suns, Clippers, Warriors – sorry, Kings), but the Celtics, Bucks and 76ers have arguably a better chance than any of those teams outside of the Suns.
So, the West is deeper, but there’s a solid chance the champion comes out of the East after the West teams beat one another up.
8) Will Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic coexist?
I can’t believe these I’m putting these words on paper, but I actually think it will work – at least for this season. After that, something will go wrong, but for now, I believe they’ll mesh perfectly on the court.
I think the Mavericks will make the Western Conference Finals. There isn’t a more talented backcourt in the NBA, and their role players complement their stars very well. They actually might match up better with the Celtics than any other team (along with the Warriors, of course).
9) Why did the Cavaliers and Bulls stay quiet?
To me, they seem like two teams that are close to contending but aren’t quite there.
The Cavs are closer than the Bulls, and acquiring another key rotational piece could have helped them close the gap with the Celtics and Bucks.
I personally think they have one of the best young cores around, so maybe they feel comfortable with where they’re at and the direction they’re going. Don’t underestimate Cleveland in the playoffs.
10) How should the Celtics approach the buyout market?
Here’s a closer look at some options. Will Barton is the best player, but I think he might want a greater role than the Celtics could give him.
I think Terrence Ross is the most realistic option for both parties. The certified Celtics killer would provide a great spark off the bench. They addressed their need for a backup big, and nabbing another backup wing couldn’t hurt.
Even after all this chaos – and whether they make another move or not – the Celtics still control their own destiny this season.