Is Hawks’ Kevin Huerter a realistic trade target for Celtics? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
As the Boston Celtics taking a (relatively) important step this low season, it will have to be done quickly.
Brad Stevens’ greatest asset this summer is: a $17.1 million exception for traded players which the Celtics can use to acquire one or more players without matching the salaries in the deal. The catch: The TPE expires on July 18.
There are some pretty solid NBA players making less than $17.1 million next season – including Atlanta Hawks wing Kevin Huerter†
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In the wake of the Dejounte Murray trade, The athletic Chris Kirschner and Sam Amick reporting that it is “possible” that the Atlanta Hawks want to trade Huerter or teammate Bogdan Bogdanovic. The Celtics have apparently considered adding Huerter ahead of the 2022 NBA trade deadline, reportedly discussing the framework of a deal that would have sent Marcus Smart to Atlanta for Huerter and Cam Reddish.
So should Stevens call the general manager of Hawks, Landry Fields, about Huerter?
The 6-foot-7 wing is a very good shooter and would fill Boston’s need to score from the bench; he averaged 12.1 points per game last season at a career high of 45.4 percent, hitting 38.9 percent of his three-pointers. He would probably be one of the Celtics’ weaker defenders, but he’s a solid facilitator (3.2 assists per game over his career) with a favorable contract ($16.3 million a year through 2026).
Huerter wouldn’t be cheap; Jared Weiss of the Athletic suggested the Hawks may want more than a first-round pick in a deal for the 23-year-old, which means the Celtics may have to part with a core rotation player.
Stevens may not want to break up a core group that just made it to the NBA Finals. But Atlanta doesn’t have much guarding depth behind Murray and Trae Young, so maybe Boston could pack on it Payton Pritchard and a first-rounder for Huerter.
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While Pritchard was an occasional spark off the bench in 2021-22, that would be a deal Stevens should seriously consider, as Huerter is a much more reliable scorer who would boost a second unit that struggled mightily against the Golden State Warriors in the finale.
Given the length of Huerter’s deal, the Celtics would have to consider him a very strong person to bring him in through trade. So it’s possible they’re targeting a player who’s more of a hire as they’re targeting a title push in 2022-23. But at the very least, the four-year veteran should be on Boston’s radar.