Mo Bamba Is a Perfect Fit for Celtics, But What's the Cost To Trade up for Him?


The Boston Celtics are sniffing around human pterodactyl and former Texas Longhorns big man Mo Bamba.Danny Ainge’s Celtics are interested in trading up in the2018 NBA Draft to pick Bamba, according to Sporting News’ Sean Deveney.

But to get to Bamba, who is a likely top-six pick, the Celtics would have to part with some important pieces. They’re currently slated to pick at No. 27 overall in the first round. They’d have to package that selection with a player — at the very least. From Deveney:

"“It’s almost certain that the Celtics would not move rookie forward Jayson Tatum, who just wrapped up the postseason as the team’s leading scorer, at 18.5 points per game. Less certain, though, is what Boston might do with point guard Terry Rozier (16.5 points, 5.7 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game in the playoffs) or swingman Jaylen Brown (18.0 points per game in the playoffs).”"

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Moving Rozier with the Celtics’ No. 27 overall pick to get Bamba is an absolute no-brainer, and thus is probably a deal no team in the top six selections would consider. Rozier will enter the final year of his contract in the 2018-19 season. The Celtics would probably have to also part with the Sacramento Kings’ first-round pick (protected for the No. 1 overall pick and the Memphis Grizzlies’ first-rounder (top-8 protected).

Brown, on the other hand, complicates the deal. He’s the more desirable player not only because he’s got more potential, but also because the two teams (the Mavericks and Grizzlies) that Deveny reports are interested in picking Bamba are set at point guard. Brown appears to be a budding All-Star with a high ceiling at both ends of the floor. As he bulks up and gets more comfortable attacking the rim, Brown could become one of the NBA’s best at his position. The same could be said of Bamba, but of course as a draft prospect, he’s not as far along in his development. The Celtics already drafted and developed Brown, who was pegged as a raw prospect in the 2016 NBA Draft.

Why part ways for another undeveloped and physically gifted prospect? Well, Bamba plays a more desirable position for the Celtics. Boston is loaded with talent on the wing. Gordon Hayward will return. Jayson Tatum emerged as a potential superstar. That adds up to fewer minutes for Brown, which also means a smaller impact and perhaps slower development.

The Celtics’ roster is currently best-equipped to play small ball for much of 2018-19. With Bamba, perhaps they could play some basketball the old fashion way — with positions. They wouldn’t be abandoning positionless basketball altogether. But Bamba would give them more options. He could develop into a high-impact player at the 5-spot, which would allow Al Horford to play 4 more often. Tatum, Hayward and Kyrie Irving would probably round out the rest of the starting lineup.

It’s easy to see why Ainge and the Celtics are at least interested.

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