The trade deadline came and went. Yet, Kemba Walker still remains in Beantown.
The Boston Celtics‘ desire to keep Walker around is certainly reasonable. The 30-year-old has picked up his play of late, averaging nearly 18 points over his last eight contests. However, his surgically repaired left knee continues to keep him out of back-to-back games. In their current structure, the Celtics are clearly a better team with Walker in their lineup. Since being cleared, the four-time All-Star has been held out of nine games, of which the Celtics own a record of just 3-6.
While Danny Ainge and company are hopeful Walker can regain his rightful place alongside the two Js as the third member of the Celtics’ “Big-Three”, questions regarding Walker’s durability and high price tag continue to cast doubt on his staying power in Boston.
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Trade Proposal Ships Kemba, Tristan Thompson to the Clippers
Owed nearly $74 million over the next two seasons, Walker is the highest-priced player on the Celtics’ books — certainly a pricey puzzle piece to float in trade talks considering his age and a questionable bill of health. However, Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley believes that the Los Angeles Clippers’ desperation for an upgrade at the point guard position could be enough to entice the potential title contenders to swing a deal this offseason.
“The Clippers are on the cusp of championship contention; they need more than (Rajon) Rondo’s postseason legend to take care of this position group,” Buckley wrote. “When Walker has his legs under him, he’s a full-fledged problem at the offensive end. Let him work isolation magic and spot up for stretches alongside Leonard and George, and Walker could be the shot in the arm that L.A. is (for some reason) hoping Rondo will be.”
Considering the Clippers’ limited trade budget, Walker is probably the best they can get. The fact they’d walk away from this exchange with both him and Tristan Thompson—a versatile, experienced center who shares a close relationship with their head coach, Tyronn Lue—should make it a no-brainer.
Buckley points to the Clippers’ “limited trade budget” marking a player such as Walker as the team’s likely best-case scenario in terms of offseason acquisitions. The B/R columnist adds that involving big man Tristan Thompson in the deal — a player with a close relationship to Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue — and the deal becomes a “no-brainer” for L.A.
Celtics Address Center Spot & Land All-NBA Defender in Proposal
While the Celtics would be moving off of two prominent starters, Buckley believes the package they would receive in exchange for both Walker and Thompson would “better outfit their roster” around the skillsets of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
Here’s the proposal in full:
- Los Angeles Clippers receive:
- Kemba Walker, G
- Tristan Thompson, C/F
- Boston Celtics receive:
- Ivica Zubac, C
- Patrick Beverley, G
- Luke Kennard, G/F
“Zubac is a low-maintenance, subtly high-impact center who contributes at both ends and happens to be on the same timeline as the Brown-Tatum tandem,” Buckley claims. “If Zubac becomes a foundational piece, Boston could be a force for a while.”
Zubac has been a steady contributor for the Clippers since taking over for an injured Serge Ibaka in the Clips’ starting lineup. The 7-foot big man has started Los Angeles’ last 14 games at center, averaging 10.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.
Beverley’s defensive tenacity and shooting prowess from beyond the arc would be a welcomed asset to any playoff-caliber team. Yes, the former first-team All-NBA defender will be 33 years old by next season. However, he’s currently shooting a career-best 41.6% from 3-point range.
As for Kennard, the wing’s minutes have been a bit uneven during his first season in Los Angeles. Yet, he is just one year removed from averaging a career-high 15.8 ppg with the Pistons. Furthermore, he’s averaged 12.4 ppg in his nine starts with the Clippers this season.
The Celtics could do a lot worse than a second-unit backcourt headlined by Kennard and Payton Pritchard.