Celtics reportedly took big swings for Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon — an all-too-familiar story in Boston

If there’s one thing you can count on in a post-NBA trade deadline world, it’s a report indicating the Boston Celtics were this close to getting someone big. How close varies from case to case, but the Celtics are somewhere in the rumors surrounding almost every star on the cusp of a relocation. Paul George. Jimmy Butler. Kawhi Leonard. Anthony Davis was once the grand plan. James Harden was discussed. In the end, the price was always too high or it wasn’t the right time. 

The latest targets were Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon, both of whom Boston reportedly took big swings to acquire from Orlando before Thursday’s deadline. Instead, Vucevic wound up in Chicago and Gordon in Denver. The Celtics got Evan Fournier. It’s unfair to call a guy averaging 20 points per game on 40-percent 3-point shooting a consolation prize, but that’s what Fournier feels like in the shadow of what were, apparently, bigger possibilities. 

From Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe:

According to league sources, in addition to their well-documented courtship of Aaron Gordon, the Celtics were a finalist for Magic All-Star center Nikola Vucevic, including multiple first-round picks as part of their package. Orlando ultimately sent Vucevic to the Bulls in exchange for Wendell Carter Jr., Otto Porter Jr. and two first-round picks.

The Celtics also offered a first-round pick and a young player to Orlando in exchange for Gordon, sources said, and they were prepared to add to that haul, but the Magic accepted Denver’s offer, which included Gary Harris Jr., R.J. Hampton and a first-round pick, before Boston had a chance.

It’s always the same story when Boston comes up short on these deals. Either it wasn’t the right time or the price was too high, which, by the way, is a perfectly reasonable explanation — one that applies to every team that futilely pursues a player. Boston traded for Kyrie Irving, as you’ll recall. And some of these deals they’ve passed on would’ve had to include Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum, and I think we can all agree hanging onto those two has proved wise. 

In the end, only one team’s package ends up getting the deal done, and with Vucevic, it’s easy to understand why Orlando would prefer a pair of first-round picks from Chicago over the same deal from Boston: The Bulls, even with Vucevic added and Boston’s deceivingly pedestrian record notwithstanding, look like a worse team than the Celtics, and thus their draft picks project to he higher. 

Who knows what else Boston could’ve offered to swing the deal in its favor. A third first-round pick would’ve been too much, but perhaps Orlando would’ve been more interested in Robert Williams than Wendell Carter Jr., or Marcus Smart over Otto Porter. A team can always up its offer, but there’s a point of diminishing return. Boston reaching that point with Vucevic is fine. 

As for Gordon, what’s really going to irk Boston fans is this idea that Danny Ainge was “prepared to add” to his initial offer before the Magic accepted Denver’s offer and never came back to the table. Read between the lines, and it’s very possible the Magic were tired of Ainge trying to squeeze every penny in the hopes he could have his cake and eat it too. 

It’s potentially what cost the Celtics Myles Turner this offseason, when it was reported Gordon Hayward wanted to go to Indiana, which was reportedly willing to send Turner and Doug McDermott back to Boston. Ainge played hardball. In addition to Turner, he wanted Victor Oladipo or T.J. Warren instead of McDermott. 

Close, but no cigar. The deal never happened. The Celtics missed out on Turner, a Defensive Player of the Year candidate who would’ve been, and still would be, a perfect piece in their puzzle, and Hayward opened his mind to Charlotte. Instead of Turner, Boston got a $28 million trade exception from the Hayward deal, two-thirds of which they used on Thursday to sign … Fournier. 

Consolation prize. 

And so here we stand with the Celtics still desiring an impact big man after trading Daniel Theis to the Bulls and just missing out on Vucevic. According to a report from the Boston Globe, Boston plans to go after Andre Drummond now that his buyout with the Cavs is finalized. Don’t expect Boston to get Drummond. The Lakers and Knicks are expected to go after him, too. The Lakers are, well, the Lakers, and the Knicks, who are $13.5 million under the current salary cap, per CTG, can offer a lot more money than Boston, which is over the cap and can only offer the bi-annual exception, which is about $3.6 million, per the Globe. 

Published: 2021-03-26 23:21:42

Tags: #Celtics #reportedly #big #swings #Nikola #Vucevic #Aaron #Gordon #alltoofamiliar #story #Boston

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