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Now here’s a deal Celtics’ Danny Ainge should make

By Hector Longo - Staff Writer | Jan 21, 2020

One 30-point win over listless LeBron and his Lakers cannot hide the fact that the Boston Celtics are muddled in the middle of the Eastern Conference pack.

Second seed, sixth seed, it hardly matters in this bunch of also-rans.

So we sit here in late January, one simple question is worth pondering in the land of the Celtic. Is Danny Ainge OK with “good?”

If it’s a no on that one, then Ainge has to gamble. He has to pull the trigger on something earth-shattering. And today, I have the deal for him.

The ESPN.com trade calculator tells me this trade works salary-cap wise. I’m ready.

Gordon Hayward to Philly for Al Horford.

Yep, Average Al. The $100 million man himself. ESPN says my deal makes the Celtics three games worse this year and the Sixers two games better.


Apparently, the ESPN computer hasn’t watched this team with a glut of wings, sputter against good teams. Some Excel worksheet can’t shroud the fact that Hayward’s presence stifles the growth of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

It can’t hide the truth, either. Brad Stevens actually sends Marcus Smart, all 6-foot-5 of him, to play bigs like Giannis and Joel Embiid because this team chose the Patriot Way to replace Horford with Enes Kanter and Daniel Theis, a hoop version of Ben Watson and Ryan Izzo taking over for Gronk.

I hear you scoffing now. Horford just left after winning nothing here. His contract is way too high, a god-awful overpay. He’s too old. He’s only averaging 12 points and six rebounds a night in Philly.

Yes, yes, yes and yes. I totally agree.

I would also tell you that Horford, to me, was one of the most overrated Celtics in history, right there in Marcus Smart/Jae Crowder company.

But he might be that linchpin here, where Hayward, at $32 million a year, is excess baggage.

Signing Kemba Walker, to stay good, in the offseason, hamstrung Ainge and the Celtics. They are locked in. Even if Hayward opts out, they are above the cap. Al makes sense.

He’s a legit big, and you would not have to lose Tatum or Brown to get him.

Now, it takes two to tango, right? Why would Philly deal with its divisional arch-rival?

Why not kick the Celtics when their stuck in neutral for what could be a half-dozen seasons or more?

The answer is simple. The teams are kindred spirits. Philly is right there with you, wedged in between the 1980s Milwaukee Bucks and the Atlanta Hawks in perpetuity.

Philly needs Hayward as much as Boston needs, gulp, Horford. This deal also holds the chance that it could make Philly better, too. A lot better.

It’s not my money, but I say bring back Expendable Al. No guarantees, but it’s the only way this team can grow.

Danny has to take the shot.

Contact Hector Longo at 594-1253 or hlongo@nashuatelegraph.com.


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