The Boston Celtics backed out of the James Harden sweepstakes, but they still could do business with the Houston Rockets ahead of the NBA trade deadline.
According to The Athletic’s Kelly Iko, multiple NBA teams have expressed interest in trading for Rockets wing P.J. Tucker. In a column Thursday, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor laid out what it might take to land Tucker.
“Two league sources tell me Tucker’s value around the league is about three second-round picks,” O’Connor wrote. “The Rockets may hold out for a team to offer a first ahead of the March 25 trade deadline, but Tucker is 35 and will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, which hurts his value.”
O’Connor also added that Houston could trade Victor Oladipo, whom Houston acquired from the Indiana Pacers as part of the Harden blockbuster but “has landed in another place he doesn’t want to be.”
So, should the Celtics consider acquiring Tucker or Oladipo with the help of their traded player exception?
Tucker is a strong, physical defender who’s shooting 52% from 3-point range this season. While Semi Ojeleye has been a pleasant surprise in a “3 and D” role off the bench, Tucker would be a more polished upgrade with plenty of NBA experience. He turns 36 in May and is a free agent in 2021, but for a $7.9 million cap hit, he’d be a decent pickup for Boston at an attainable price.
Oladipo is a bit more of a gamble. The 28-year-old averaged 20 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists out of the gate for the Pacers but hasn’t played more than 36 games in a season since 2017-18 due to various injuries. He’d also be an expensive rental at $21 million, and O’Connor reports Miami is his preferred destination.
But NBC Sports Boston’s Brian Scalabrine made a compelling case Wednesday for the Celtics to add Oladipo, whose offensive firepower could help Boston keep pace in a loaded Eastern Conference.
At the very least, Danny Ainge may have a couple reasons to give the Rockets another call ahead of the March trade deadline.
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