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Ranking Celtics 15th roster spot options from ‘realistic’ to ‘stop suggesting this’

From trades to buyouts to two-way elevations, these are Boston’s options (according to the internet).

Chicago Bulls v San Antonio Spurs Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

The Boston Celtics may have the best record in the NBA, but where there is an open roster spot, there will be speculation. And for as great as the Celtics are this season, it’s a natural reaction to be intrigued by the unknown, and that’s exactly the case with Boston’s 15th and final roster space.

Amplifying fans’ interest is the Celtics’ $6.2 million TPE that they received in the trade that sent Grant Williams to the Dallas Mavericks. Boston has plenty of draft picks (including a hoard of second-round picks Brad Stevens acquired by trading back in the 2023 NBA Draft), meaning they could easily facilitate a TPE-centered deal.

Their position as a contender could also make them a compelling option for potential buyout candidates looking to land with a new team.

So, with the February 8 trade deadline inching closer and closer, let’s rank some of the Celtics’ options for their 15th roster spot from “realistic” to “stop suggesting this.”

(Most, if not all, of these options have been suggested for the Celtics from the rumor mill and all over social media. From Twitter to Reddit to comment sections, someone, somewhere, has brought up these options. I’m just here to rank them.)

Memphis Grizzlies v Miami Heat Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

Realistic

John Konchar (TPE trade)

At this point, John Konchar may be the most realistic trade option for the Celtics this season. The Memphis Grizzlies’ season is effectively over, as injuries have completely ruined what could have been a promising year. They already traded Steven Adams for Victor Oladipo and three seconds. Why not Konchar?

Konchar is a 27-year-old, 6-foot-5 forward most known for his hustle play and rebounding. He’s a career 36.1% shooter from deep but on very low volume (1.8 per game). That said, the most intriguing part of a potential Konchar trade is that he makes $6 million in each of the three years after this one, making him a valuable trade chip to help match salary in future deals.

Andre Drummond (TPE trade)

Depending on your taste for Luke Kornet (who has been wholly effective in his role this year), adding some extra big-man depth could be useful. The Chicago Bulls are going nowhere fast, and Andre Drummond should be available. Throwing a couple of second-rounders to Chicago for Drummond could be worth it, though Kornet could still get the nod in the rotation, depending on the matchup.

Torrey Craig (TPE trade)

In the same world as Drummond lives Torrey Craig, who is also on a Bulls team that could shake it up at the deadline. The 33-year-old forward is an experienced 3-and-D vet who could be useful in the postseason, but he’s currently dealing with a foot injury that has held him out since December 16. He’s getting closer to a return, but it’s still something to note.

Neemias Queta (Sign)

By far the most realistic option on this list, giving two-way big man Neemias Queta the 15th roster spot is an obvious choice. He’s played solid minutes for Boston this year as a two-way player, and adding him on a standard contract would not only give the Celtics a chance to develop him further, but it would also open up another two-way spot.

2023 NBA Playoffs - Boston Celtics v Miami Heat Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Borderline realistic

Naji Marshall (Trade)

The Knife (yes, that is really his nickname) has been suggested as a potential Celtics target before, most notably by Bobby Marks of ESPN. Naji Marshall would likely soak up Oshae Brissett’s minutes in the rotation, but Marks noted during his appearance on NBC Sports Boston’s “Celtics Talk” that the New Orleans Pelicans probably wouldn’t trade him for what the Celtics would be willing to give up because “he plays for them.”

Danilo Gallinari (Buyout)

After a Celtics stint that never was, Danilo Gallinari finds himself on the Detroit Pistons after getting traded by the Washington Wizards. It’s not impossible he gets bought out, but he’s actually been giving the Pistons solid minutes, improving their offense in the process. He’ll probably stick around in Detroit, but should he get bought out, Boston could at least look into it.

PJ Tucker (Buyout)

If the LA Clippers decide to make a deal at the deadline, it would make sense for PJ Tucker to be included. He’s fallen out of their rotation and makes enough money to match salaries in a trade. Unless the team that acquires Tucker has a real use for him, a buyout would be likely. Tucker may not get a ton of minutes in Boston, but having a hard-nosed guy like him waiting in the wings could be an intriguing idea.

San Antonio Spurs v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

Realistic

Otto Porter Jr. (TPE trade)

Ever since his Finals run with the Golden State Warriors, Otto Porter Jr. hasn’t been the same player. A season-ending injury last year ruined his run with the Toronto Raptors, and he’s barely played this season. In theory, Porter Jr. makes sense, but in reality, he wouldn’t play over Sam Hauser or Brissett.

Cedi Osman (Buyout)

First and foremost, Cedi Osman doesn’t fit into the Celtics’ TPE, so if they wanted to trade for him, they’d have to match salaries. That said, if he does get traded and bought out, like Porter Jr., he definitely wouldn’t play over Hauser, and probably not over Brissett, either. Boston’s path to acquiring him is too difficult, and he’s not enough of an upgrade to make it worth it.

Jalen McDaniels (TPE trade), Reggie Bullock (TPE trade), Robert Covington (Buyout), and Jae’Sean Tate (TPE trade)

Let’s save some time (and repetitiveness) here. Hauser plays over all of these players, and Brissett plays over at least Jalen McDaniels and Jae’Sean Tate. Reggie Bullock is fine, but are the Houston Rockets really shopping him? Robert Covington could get traded and then bought out, but at this point in his career, he’d only be a marginal upgrade over Brisset.

Mike Muscala (TPE trade)

Another former Celtic, Mike Muscala was in the same trade as Gallinari, landing with the Pistons. He’s also been helping them improve their offense, but even if he were to become available, he likely would fall below Kornet (and maybe even Queta) in the center rotation. Having a floor-spacer would be valuable, but his defensive lowlights could outweigh that positive.

Jevon Carter (TPE trade)

Back to the trend of Bulls who could be traded. Jevon Carter joined Chicago this past offseason, and his future money could be useful for the Celtics in trades moving forward, but their guard rotation is pretty solid. There’s a chance he could play over Payton Pritchard in certain matchups where Boston needs more defense, but if they go after a guard, they should be targeting someone with more size.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Utah Jazz Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

Borderline unrealistic

Nick Richards (TPE trade)

If the Celtics were to add a center, a big-bodied, athletic guy like Nick Richards could make some sense. Plus, he’s under contract for two more years past this one, making him a solid trade asset. However, he’s been playing some big-time minutes for the Charlotte Hornets, as their center rotation is depleted with injuries. They’ll probably hang onto him.

Simone Fontecchio (TPE trade)

Shooting with size. The same thing Danny Ainge preached before swapping jobs. Simone Fontecchio would be a second Hauser on the roster, and while he presumably wouldn’t play over him, he could certainly play over Brissett. That said, he’s been playing well for the Utah Jazz, and holding onto him seems like the smart move.

Saddiq Bey (TPE trade)

This is a weird one. Saddiq Bey has been floating around in trade rumors, but he’s playing 32.3 minutes per game for the Atlanta Hawks. They could look to trade him so they don’t have to pay him this summer, but they’d probably look for more in return than the Celtics should be willing to offer. Bey is fine, but his mid-tier three-point shooting and need for the ball to be most effective hurt his value to a team like the one Boston has in place.

Toronto Raptors v Chicago Bulls Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Unrealistic, but would be cool

Blake Griffin

Just throwing it out there. There hasn’t been much chatter about a Blake Griffin return, so it seems as though he’s enjoying retirement. It probably won’t happen, but it would be cool.

Alex Caruso (Trade)

Yes, Alex Caruso would be an amazing fit on this team. A third Jrue Holiday, Derrick White-type guy. But even if the Celtics were willing to give up the multiple first-round picks Chicago wants for him (if they even decide to trade him at all), they’d have to send out Pritchard and three minimum-contract players just to make the money work. It’s almost certainly not happening.

Jalen Smith (TPE trade)

Jalen Smith would be a pretty great fit in Boston. He’s turned himself into a solid scorer for the Indiana Pacers this season. But that’s exactly why he’s not going to be available. Keeping him around should be a no-brainer for the Pacers.

Dario Saric (TPE trade)

This is another guy who would be an ideal fit in Boston. Dario Saric can space the floor and is an underrated passer for the center spot, but he’s been giving the Golden State Warriors some big-time minutes this season. Unless they completely reshape the roster (which seems unlikely), he’ll be staying put.

Kenrich Williams (TPE trade)

Yet another example of “good player but not getting traded.” The Oklahoma City Thunder like Kenrich Williams. He may fit into the TPE, but he’s a core part of their team. Trading him for picks doesn’t make sense.

Kelly Olynyk (Buyout)

What a return this would be. Kelly Olynyk would make a perfect third-string big in Boston with his floor-spacing and passing abilities. But the Jazz aren’t bad. They’re not going to buy him out. And if they don’t end up keeping him, any team that trades for him would be adding him to help them compete.

Phoenix Suns v Indiana Pacers Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images

Unrealistic

Tyus Jones (Trade)

Not only is the Washington Wizards’ asking price for Tyus Jones likely too rich for the Celtics’ blood, but he also doesn’t fit the TPE. And on top of that, they already have Payton Pritchard. Jones may be the better player right now, but Pritchard’s contract is longer, and he doesn’t solve any potential defensive concerns with the Celtics’ current backup.

TJ McConnell (Trade)

The Indiana Pacers are in the playoff race. TJ McConnell plays an important role for them. Why would they trade him? Regardless, he makes more than the Celtics’ TPE, so they would have to trade a ton of players. And on top of all of that, Boston’s guard depth is solid, and McConnell wouldn’t improve their size at the position.

Thaddeus Young (Buyout)

Earlier in the season, Thaddeus Young may have been a valid option. However, with the Toronto Raptors shaking up the roster and dealing with injuries, he’s playing real minutes for them. But even if they were to make him available, he makes too much for the Celtics’ to take him into the TPE, meaning they would have to trade rotation pieces to acquire him.

Charlotte Hornets v Indiana Pacers Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Stop suggesting this

Isaiah Stewart (Poison pill)

At face value, Isaiah Stewart’s $5.2 million contract fits the Celtics’ TPE. Except it doesn’t. Because Stewart signed an extension with the Pistons this summer, his contract is poison-pilled, meaning the Celtics would have to send out $13.0 million in a deal for him. They aren’t matching that salary without giving up multiple top-eight rotation players, and that isn’t happening. Plus, Stewart is playing 30.6 minutes per game for Detroit (and, as noted, they just extended him). He probably won’t be on the block.

Gordon Hayward (Illegal)

This. Is. Literally. Not. Allowed.

Should Gordon Hayward get bought out by the Hornets, the Celtics would not be allowed to sign him. Under the new CBA, teams who are above the first luxury tax apron (i.e. the Celtics) cannot sign players bought out during the season unless their contract was less than the non-taxpayer MLE ($12.4 million). Hayward makes $31.5 million. The Celtics cannot sign Hayward on the buyout market, and they can’t trade for him without giving up two top-six rotation pieces. Hayward won’t be in Boston this year.

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