As we all know and have for over a year now at least, the Boston Celtics have been in the perfect position to utilize their treasure chest of assets and their status as a fringe contender to make a big splash or two and acquire at least one of the many stars that have been on the trade market and free agency.
They have been the big winners in free agency the past few seasons, landing Al Horford last summer and Gordon Hayward this summer without having to give up any of those trade assets (technically, but they still did in order to create the cap room necessary), but until this trade for Kyrie Irving, they had been unwilling or unable to secure one of the stars on the trade market in the past year: Paul George, Jimmy Butler, DeMarcus Cousins, Carmelo Anthony.
So why did they seemingly pass on all of these players considering they always had the trump card offer at their disposal?
ESPN’s Zach Lowe sheds a little light on The Lowe Post podcast:
“The ‘why not Butler and George?’ questions are dicier. Timing played a part. Boston wanted two All-Star-level building blocks. They feared flipping their golden trade chip for the first one, whiffing on the second, and ending up having squandered their best asset to build a team that wasn’t appreciably better than their previous iteration of LeBron roadkill.
They preferred signing the first one — Hayward — in free agency, and then jumping headlong into the trade market. They may well have Paul George now had the Pacers waited another 10 days, but Boston was concerned George would leave for the Lakers in a year. Irving’s deal runs one season longer, and he has already relayed an enthusiasm for playing in Boston.”
As you can see, they were confident they could land Hayward and wanted to secure him before trading away some of their most prized possessions in order to land another star through a trade. They had the mentality that one star wouldn’t be enough to overtake LeBron in the east, so why sell the farm in that scenario instead of using their picks to build a super team for a couple years down the line.
They were also weary of Paul George still bolting for the Lakers in free agency.
This last part is the most interesting in the report though…
“The Celtics had some concerns over how Hayward and Butler would mesh, both on the court and as personalities, sources say.”
I don’t see how you would see this as being a poor fit on the court but Irving and Hayward being a great fit. Butler can play off the ball more than Irving can and is a much better defender, something that Hayward is average at best at.
If this report is legitimate, it must mean these two guys aren’t exactly the best of friends.
The Celtics are far more talented this season and considerably better offensively, but does sacrificing two of the better defenders that made them as a good of a defensive team as they were last year in Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder really make them any better overall? Time will tell.
I have to admit if it were me, I would rather have Butler than Hayward. Irving could be the biggest star of all though, so it may have been worth it for the Celtics to wait before dealing their assets in a trade.