The Celtics were one of the more active teams ahead of the NBA trade deadline. Did they come away from the deadline as winners?
The Boston Celtics had an open roster spot heading into the last day of the NBA trade deadline. And while they already made a trade on Wednesday, Boston’s front office made two more moves just minutes before the 3 P.M. (EST) cutoff.
In a rare deal with their rival Philadelphia 76ers, the Celtics dealt a single second-round pick in exchange for guard Jaden Springer, per Adrian Wojnarowski.
While neither of these moves make or break the Celtics, they’re still notable adjustments to their bench. Boston has a potent starting five that’s helped lead them to an impressive 39-12 overall record, but that doesn’t mean Celtics President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens is content. Instead, he stayed busy late into the trade deadline and committed to upgrading Boston’s entire roster.
So, with the time for trades officially over, let’s look back at Boston’s deadline deals and grade its last-minute moves with the Sixers and Blazers.
Grading the Celtics’ final NBA trade deadline moves
Although Springer isn’t a household name for Celtics fans, he made quite an impression with the Sixers.
The 21-year-old was drafted 28th overall in the 2021 NBA Draft, and while he played in just 18 regular season games in the first two years of his career, he was already up to 32 games played for the 2023-24 season. Clearly, he was starting to gain the Sixers’ trust, and it’s not hard to see why given his time in the G-League.
Springer participated in 44 G-League games with the Delaware Blue Coats during the 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons. In that time, he averaged 16.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, and two steals in 16.8 minutes per game. He scored efficiently, too, shooting 47% from the field in his first year and 49.3% in his second.
Furthermore, Springer’s shining achievement came in the 2023 G-League Finals. In Game 1 of the best-of-three series, Springer dropped an incredible 43 points, nine rebounds, four assists, four blocks, and two steals. Next game, he helped the Blue Coats clinch the championship with 21 points and nine rebounds and was named the G-League Finals MVP.
Over the course of that postseason run, he averaged an insane 27.3 points, 2.3 blocks, and 10 rebounds in a whopping 40.3 minutes per game.
The Charlotte native is 6-foot-4 and a little over 200 pounds, yet he can still defend with the best of them. In fact, Springer ranks in the 99th percentile among wings in block percentage and steal percentage, per NBC Sports Boston reporter Chris Forsberg. Even though those numbers come in minimal minutes (11.8 per outing this season), it’s a positive sign of the young guard’s upside.
For further proof of Springer’s defensive prowess, look no further than his performance on Wednesday night against the Golden State Warriors. In his first start of the season, Springer notched eight points, four rebounds, two steals, and one block in 23 minutes. Best of all, he helped hold Warriors star Stephen Curry to a mere nine points on 2-for-7 shooting. Before that, Curry had failed to score in double figures just two times all season, per ClutchPoints reporter Sam DiGiovanni.
Jaden Springer’s defense against Steph Curry has been absolutely incredible.
That was the first half since 2018 where Curry made 0 field goals and attempted 4 or fewer shots, per Stathead. In halves where he played at least 15 minutes, it’s the first since 2012.
— Sam DiGiovanni (@BySamDiGiovanni) February 8, 2024
On the Celtics, Springer can back up and learn from fellow defensive guards Jrue Holiday and Derrick White. Hopefully with them, he can develop his offensive game, as he’s not a 3-point threat at this stage in his career.
Overall, Springer is a work in progress, yet he has tremendous potential. To make matters even better, Boston only had to sacrifice a second-round pick for him, which is a pretty low price in today’s trade economy.
Immediately after Boston’s trade for Springer, the Celtics created another open roster spot by shipping Banton off to Portland. The 6-foot-8 guard has length and is still young, but he never showed the C’s much. He played in just 24 games and failed to make a real impact in Boston, averaging just 2.3 points and 1.5 rebounds in 7.1 minutes per game.
Banton didn’t have an immediate future in Boston, so parting ways with him in exchange for a second-round pick isn’t a bad swap. These two smaller-scale moves probably won’t change the Celtics’ championship outlook, however, these deals boost the Green Team defensively and keep their options open heading into the buyout market.
Springer to the Celtics trade grade: A-
Banton off the Celtics trade grade: B+