Two of the most storied NBA franchises had ugly first-round playoff exits this season. The Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics were both bounds from the postseason in Round 1 and are left pondering the future. The Celtics have already begun dismantling their team – at least the front office and head coach. The two teams may even get to the point where they do something that hasn’t been done since 2004.
The Boston Celtics are already in shakeup mode
The Celtics and the Lakers entered the postseason as the seventh seed in their respective conferences. While both teams will need some offseason fine-tuning, the Celtics have already begun.
After losing to the Brooklyn Nets in five games, Danny Ainge stepped down as the team’s president of basketball operations. That move began a domino effect as head coach Brad Stevens left the bench to replace Ainge in the front office. Ainge had been in Boston’s front office for 18 years, while Stevens coached the team for the last eight.
The Celtics are looking for a new coach as Stevens seeks his replacement. The Lakers also have some significant decisions to make. What will they do with Dennis Schroder? How about Kyle Kuzma? It’s still very early in the offseason, but both teams have a lot of work to do.
The Celtics and Lakers could even get together for a trade
It’s something that hasn’t been done since 2004, but the Celtics and Lakers could put their heads together and work out a trade. The last time that happened was 17 years ago when the Celtics acquired Rick Fox, Gary Payton, and a 2006 first-round pick for Chucky Atkins, Jumaine Jones, and Chris Mihm.
The Celtics clearly made out in that deal. They used that first-round pick to select point guard Rajon Rondo, who is still playing 15 years later.
According to Pro Basketball Reference, the teams have only pulled the trigger in a deal with each other two other times. Neither were blockbusters.
In 1999, the Celtics sent Travis Knight to LA in exchange for Tony Battie. In 1977, the teams made their first-ever exchange. Boston dealt Charlie Scott for Kermit Washington, Don Chaney, and a 1978 first-round pick. Boston selected Freeman Williams with the pick.
Could Kemba Walker be the centerpiece of a deal between the two teams?
Kemba Walker has made it clear he no longer wants to play for the Celtics. The Celtics would be happy to see his balky knee and massive contract go. Walker is reportedly frustrated because the team unsuccessfully tried to trade him this year. Walker will make $34.38 million in 2021, playing on a knee that’s given him problems for the last several seasons.
The Lakers don’t have many assets to make a deal, but the Celtics would be happy unloading Walker and his huge contract. The Lakers could deal Schroder in a sign-and-trade while including other picks or players, possibly Kuzma. It’s not a great return for Boston but it rids them of the Walker deal.
Kuzma was once a promising young star, but hasn’t developed like the Lakers had hoped. A change of scenery could help get him back on track, pairing him with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Things will get more interesting as the offseason heats up. Look for the Celtics and Lakers to make some serious moves even if they’re not with each other.