Rockets forward Tari Eason named Celtics ‘dream’ trade target

The Boston Celtics won’t be focused on anything other than capturing an NBA title in the coming weeks, but summer is coming regardless of how the Finals go, and with it the team’s chance to expand an already talented roster .

Jayson Tatum is eligible for an extension this offseason, locking him up to a five-year super-max deal worth $315 million, which is Boston’s first order of business. Attempts to extend Derrick White are also likely high on the list, although the top guard could last a year and potentially make a lot more money by entering free agency, making the process even murkier.

What’s left after that is a limited list of scenarios that could be improved upon, taking into account how the Celtics have spent money in recent years and where their salary cap will likely lie once the time comes to make roster additions. Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report on Monday, June 3, named Houston Rockets forward Tari Eason Boston’s “dream” trade target, based on the organization’s limited maneuverability.

The Celtics are going to be a second-place luxury team next season, which puts a lot of restrictions on who they can trade.

Eason is a player Boston should be very interested in. The 23-year-old has two years left on his rookie contract ($3.7 million and $5.7 million) and could emerge as a very nice rotation piece for the Celtics in the near future. a few years.

Unless the Celtics are willing to trade one of their high-priced vets, Boston will have to settle for players making far less money. Eason would provide tremendous value on his current deal.

Tari Eason wants to defend and shoots well from deep

Tari Eason, Rockets

GettyForward Tari Eason of the Houston Rockets.

Eason, a former first-round pick out of LSU (No. 17 overall in 2022), averaged 9.8 points, 7 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.4 steals during his second professional season. According to Basketball Reference, he made 36% of his three-point attempts over 21.8 minutes per night.

At 6-foot-4 and 216 pounds, Eason is a power forward who has plenty of room on the floor and at least some defensive skills that the Celtics could look to develop. His size will likely keep him from ever becoming the same kind of rim-protecting interior defender that Kristaps Porzingis has proven to be as an anchor for Boston this season.

However, Eason is eager to become a high-quality defender and brings the elements of energy and work ethic necessary to have a chance of achieving such a goal.

“I want to be the best defenseman in the NBA one day,” Eason said in October 2023, according to Jeremy Brener of Sports Illustrated’s Fan Nation. “I really believe I can be that, I will be – I just have to get to work and the rest will fall into place. As far as effort and pride in that end of the floor, that’s kind of my calling card. I want to be the best defender I can be.”

Kristaps Porzingis’ injury history makes a case for the Celtics adding depth to the front court

Kristaps Porzingis

GettyKristaps Porzingis of the Boston Celtics.

A quality defenseman with good size and the ability to knock down shots from behind the three-point line would at least be something of an insurance policy for the Celtics if Porzingis develops further injury problems, which is likely given his history of health issues since entering the league in 2015 .

Porzingis has played in 60 regular-season games just once in the last seven years (2022-23 with the Washington Wizards) and missed the entire 2018-19 season with an ACL injury. A calf injury suffered in Game 4 of the Celtics’ opener against the Miami Heat has sidelined the 7-foot-2 Porzingis thus far.

Houston has a lot of young talent that needs experience to develop, and Swartz noted that guys like Cam Whitmore and Amen Thompson could steal minutes from Eason next season. The Rockets have already picked up the third-year team option on Eason’s $16.3 million rookie contract, leaving a $5.7 million team option for the 2025-26 season before free agency.

If the Celtics want to get front court insurance, with an often questionable Porzingis and a 38-year-old Al Horford as their two best big men, Eason makes sense.