The Boston Celtics may have the NBA's best starting five after acquiring Jrue Holiday via trade Sunday. But Holiday came at a cost.
The Celtics reportedly sent Robert Williams, the Golden State Warriors' 2024 first-round pick (acquired in a previous trade) and their unprotected 2029 first-rounder to the Portland Trail Blazers in return for Holiday. That's a steep cost -- and the Blazers reportedly wanted more.
Portland initially sought a return for Holiday that included "four or five future first-round picks," The Boston Globe's Adam Himmelsbach reported Sunday. While the Blazers eventually "softened" their initial ask, the team still "made it clear" that Williams needed to be included in the trade, per Himmelsbach.
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"Williams appeared in just 35 games last year, averaging 8 points and 8.3 rebounds, but there is a belief around the league that he is capable of much more if healthy," Himmelsbach wrote.
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Williams indeed is a dynamic player when healthy: His 11.4 net rating led the Celtics last season, and he's an underrated passer in addition to an elite rim defender and dangerous lob threat. His departure leaves Boston thin on big man depth, with the injury-prone Kristaps Porzingis and the 37-year-old Al Horford topping the depth chart.
Health has always been a question mark for Williams, however, and it sounds like Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens couldn't pass up the opportunity to add Holiday, one of the game's best perimeter defenders who also brings a polished offensive game (19.3 points and 7.4 assists per game last season) and a championship pedigree after winning the 2021 NBA championship with the Milwaukee Bucks.
Holiday has been on Boston's radar for years, as well: Himmelsbach reports that the Celtics spoke "at length" with the New Orleans Pelicans about trading for Holiday in 2020 before he landed in Milwaukee.
Three years later, Stevens and the Celtics have their man, and despite what they had to give up, they should enter the 2023-24 season as the NBA title favorites with Holiday now in the fold.