Celtics Weekly Report: Welcome Evan Fournier and Mo Wagner and NBA Trade Deadline Bonanza

Orlando Magic guard Evan Fournier (10) gets past Denver Nuggets guard PJ Dozier, left, for a shot during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, March 23, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Wrapping up a disappointing week, the Celtics limped into the trade deadline at a disappointing 21-23 and are currently in eighth place in the conference. After losing to the Milwaukee Bucks in dramatic fashion Wednesday night, the Celtics made a trade for former Orlando Magic guard Evan Fournier. We will discuss this and other blockbuster trades around the league and how they may affect the Celtics postseason chances. 

Evan Fournier and Mo Wagner, and Their Impact On the Celtics 

I am split on this trade. On one hand, Fournier has had a very good offensive season for a terrible Orlando Magic team, scoring a career high 19.7 points per game on a very good 38.8% shooting from 3. He adds a solid catch and shoot option to a team that needed consistency in that department, and paired with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown can really help contribute in a small ball, 3-point shooting lineup. The part that I am worried about however is the defensive side of the floor. Fournier is by no means a defensive master, and while he offers plenty of flexibility on the offensive end, he is not nearly as dynamic defensively. He will have to be assigned to the other teams worst offensive threat at either the point guard, shooting guard, or small forward position. This team really needed someone who could provide a defensive impact at either the guard or the center position, and yet we add another shooter that is a negative on the defensive end of the floor. In the end, I feel like he will provide offensive firepower to a team that lacks consistency at times, but the defensive side of the ball remains a huge concern for me.  

The final trade of the day for the Celtics was Daniel Thies being traded to the Chicago Bulls for Mo Wagner. Admittedly I am not incredibly versed on the impact of Mo Wagner on a team, but what I do know is that he has only ever been in losing situations in his three year career. He shoots okay for a big man from 3 at 31% from beyond the arc, and he hits free throws at a high rate as well. Defensively, the numbers show he is much better close to the rim than Theis is, but gives up much more 3 and deep 2s. I believe the idea here is to get a big man who is young and might develop more on a team that considers itself a contender, while also upgrading on the defensive end. This trade also tells me that the team is ready to go all in on the Robert Williams III era in Boston, which I could not be happier about.  

New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett (9) drives to the basket against Washington Wizards center Moritz Wagner (21) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, March 23, 2021, in New York. (Vincent Carchietta/Pool Photo via AP)

Big Moves Around the League That Affect the C’s 

It was not just trade deadline day for the Celtics, but for the rest of the league as well. Some huge moves were made at this season’s deadline that stand to have major impacts on the Celtics season. The first bombshell of the day was Former Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic being traded to the Chicago Bulls. This is a huge red flag for the Celtics, as Vucevic brings the Bulls into contention for a legitimate playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, adding just another team the Celtics will have to fight to get into the playoffs. 

The next big deal came later in the day, with Victor Oladipo being traded from the Houston Rockets to the Miami Heat. Oladipo joins a Heat team that is one game above the Celtics in the East and currently in fifth place. He brings an impact on both sides of the ball that makes an already effective offense even better and a terrifying defense even more devastating. While his stats have been down this year, he had also expressed his disinterest in playing with a tanking team in Houston, and so maybe his play improves on a team undoubtedly in title contention.   

Many of the other moves at this deadline affect the Western conference, with trade target Aaron Gordon going to the Denver Nuggets and Toronto Raptors Norman Powell heading to the Portland Trail Blazers. This deadline could have been much worse for the Celtics in terms of teams around them improving drastically, but I am also not incredibly impressed with the additions they made to try and make a push for the postseason.  

Possible Buyout Additions 

  Alongside the trade deadline also comes the buyout market, and there are some big names being added to the free agency pool this year. On top of the list are two impact big men in Andre Drummond and LaMarcus Aldridge. Both of them have been sitting on the bench this season as they have expressed dissatisfaction with their situations. Andre Drummond adds great defensive impact at the center position, including being one of the league’s top rebounders. His offensive game features a heavy inside presence that may not mesh very well with the ball heavy handlers of Tatum and Brown, but he may be willing to toss that aside if it means playing on a possible contender.  

Aldrige is an example of a guy on the opposite side of the coin. The 35-year-old can play both the center and power forward and can add great shooting at both of the positions. He is a slightly above-average defender for his position, and his age means he could play a huge leadership role for this incredibly young team. I feel that putting him in the Daniel Thies role would be a perfect spot for him, and would be a no doubt improvement at the position.  

It has been a wild trade deadline as they almost always are, and the fun will continue as key names are bought out and available for everyone to sign at low costs. Keep an eye out for Danny Ainge and the Celtics to add more names and try to turn this team around. Next week we’ll see how the additions of Fournier and Wagner either help or hurt the team, and we will see if the Celtics can get back over .500 on the season.  

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