When it is worth risking camaraderie and growth for the shot at elite talent?
That is the question Celtics president Danny Ainge and the organization will face in any potential deal for disgruntled San Antonio star Kawhi Leonard this summer.
The Celtics rode those connections to a championship in 2008 with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo. But that was only after Ainge was willing to sacrifice the potential of Al Jefferson and the young player the team would have drafted in 2007 for the elite talent of Ray Allen and Garnett.
If the price to play for Leonard is a budding young star in Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum, should he do it again, or should the Celtics move forward with the possible championship-level core already in place of a healthy Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, Brown and Tatum?
Questions do come up with Leonard.
How is his injury situation? What can he bring to help with this young Celtics team? Would he mesh well with these current players? Would he, at best, be a one-year rental with his heart already set on signing in Los Angeles as a free agent next summer?
Would Leonard coming off missing an entire year with a quad injury be that much of an improvement over Brown’s leap in his third year, or Tatum’s in his second?
Ainge would also face the financial struggle of trying to re-sign both Irving and Leonard to maximum-salary contracts next summer. Brown and Tatum would still be on their respective rookie deals.
With Irving and Hayward both coming off major surgeries, the Celtics would also be adding a third player with an injury history to the mix.
Leonard is one of the top two-way players in the NBA – if not the best – when healthy, but Brown is five years younger and has shown he could be that type of player for the Celtics for years to come as opposed to the potential one-year window with Leonard.
Trading for Leonard could make the Celtics an instant title favorite next year, but it’s a gamble the team might pay for in years to come if they don’t cash in right away.
About the Podcast: Celtics Stuff Live was the original live interactive webcast produced specifically for Celtics fans. The show originally aired for two hours every Sunday night and featured regular and prominent guests such as Mike Gorman, Sean Grande, Steve Bulpett, Marc Spears, Peter Vecsey, Mark Murphy, Scott Souza, Kelly Dwyer and Gary Tanguay and broadcast on CelticsBlog.com. Justin Poulin was one of the first members of the internet media to be credentialed with access to the locker room. After effectively retiring in early 2012, Celtics Stuff Live returns with Jon Duke and Justin Poulin featuring the interviews and expert analysis that listeners came to expect from the show in the Danny Ainge era.
Now broadcasting on CLNS Media, Celtics Stuff Live is back! —- CLNS Media is a Boston-based, online, sports radio station that broadcasts some of the most well-known sports radio shows in the country.
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