After just taking over the GM position for the Boston Celtics from Danny Ainge, Brad Stevens has made his first big trade.
The official deal involves Boston sending point guard Kemba Walker, the 16th overall pick in this years draft, as well as a 2025 second round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder for power forward/center Al Horford, center Moses Brown, and a 2023 second round pick. The only thing shocking about this deal was the timing, as it was widely expected Walker would be moved by Boston, just now this soon. However, it will kick off what should be an interesting offseason for both franchises.
For Oklahoma, this deal adds yet another first round pick to their stash. The Thunder now have three first round picks in this upcoming draft, increasing their total number of first rounders to 18 over the next seven years. OKC will look to continue their rebuild with these picks, as they will try to build a nice young squad centered around Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Lu Dort. They were also able to add another vet to their roster in Kemba Walker, who will most likely follow the trend of Chris Paul and now Al Horford by being traded later on for even more draft capital. Kemba only has two more years left on his contract, so he could be flipped to a team next season that is looking for an expiring deal.
As for Kemba, it is tough to see such a well liked player get sent from a playoff team to a rebuilding one. After being stuck with the Charlotte Hornets on a team that was never good enough to make a deep run in the playoffs, Kemba had his chance to get a championship when he signed with Boston in the 2019 offseason. Boston would do well in his first season, reaching the Eastern Conference Finals, however knee injuries plagued Kemba during his stint in Boston, which saw him regress significantly from his days in Charlotte. Hopefully Walker will be able to have a career revival, similar to Chris Paul and Al Horford to some extent had in OKC.
After one of the most disappointing seasons in recent memory, the Celtics front office knew they had to shake things up quickly. Moving Kemba Walker and his massive contract became a major priority, and they were able to do so in this deal. Walker was set to make around $73 million over the next two years while Horford is set to make $53 million, with only $41 million of it being guaranteed. This will make getting a third star to pair with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown a lot easier than before.
Horford is a veteran leader who could become an important locker room presence for the Celtics like he once was. He is well liked by the players he played with before, and will most likely be the starting power forward or center for the Celtics depending on how their next head coach wants to run things. Boston was also able to pick up a young big man in Moses Brown, who could develop and become a solid player for Boston. Brown fits the timeline of Tatum and Jaylen Brown, and recently signed an extension which should keep him in Boston for a couple years.
For the Celtics however, this is the first of many moves that need to be made this offseason. With the increased cap flexibility, they will have the option to bring back Evan Fournier in free agency. They will also need to find a starting caliber point guard, whether it be through free agency or a trade, to replace Kemba Walker. Nonetheless, this move gives them several new options which they didn’t have prior to this trade, and sets the stage for what should be an eventful offseason in Boston.