Report: Celtics linked to Tyreke Evans ahead of the trade deadline

After annihilating the New York Knicks on Wednesday night, the Boston Celtics moved to an Eastern Conference-best 37-15 on the season and increased their lead over the Toronto Raptors to 1.5 games.

Thriving under the leadership of All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, coach Brad Stevens has led a group of young, talented players to one of the most impressive starts in recent team history.

Although there’s an old saying that goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, the Celtics, like every NBA team, are weighing their options ahead of the February 8 trade deadline.

Despite the fact that there are very few deficiencies on this year’s squad, acquiring a franchise-altering talent is never off the table when president of basketball operations Danny Ainge is involved.

Of the many players still on the trade block, it seems as though the Celtics are interested in one man in particular.

“As trade discussions involving Memphis Grizzlies guard Tyreke Evans intensify, the organization plans to sit him out until a deal is completed,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Wednesday. “Teams chasing the playoffs in the East (Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Boston) and the West (Denver and New Orleans) are among those expressing interest in acquiring Evans, league sources said.”

Evans is enjoying a resurgent season for the Grizzlies, averaging 19.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists in 31.1 minutes per game. Best of all for any team interested in acquiring him, his contract is perhaps the biggest value in the entire league. He’s making just $3.29 million on a one-year deal. Although he’s a rental in line for huge money on the free agent market in the offseason, he could very well become a difference-maker on a contending squad.

Because of his cheap salary, the Grizzlies will be able to hold out until they find an adequate deal. Wojnarowski reported that they are looking for a first-round pick of some sort.

Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald initially reported that the Celtics were unwilling to trade any first-round pick.

But, Keith Smith of RealGM and FanRag Sports later reported that the Celtics would be willing to give up Memphis’ 2019 first-round pick that they own in exchange for Evans, but would require sending a player as well in order to keep as much of their disabled player exception (gained from Gordon Hayward’s injury) as possible.

A Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston spoke with Ainge about the possibility of making a trade before the deadline.

“It’s not like other sports where we need a defensive back that does this one thing, or we need a second baseman. Basketball is different. There’s lots of different ways we can play. It all depends on the ‘who’ more than the actual needs,” Ainge said.

He continued, “What do we have to give up? Who is it? What is their long and short-term abilities with us? All those things are considered in what we have to give up. We like our young guys. Our young guys have played really well.”

It will be fascinating to see whether or not Boston gives up Memphis’ 2019 first-rounder (or another first-rounder) in exchange for Evans. Since the end goal is to win their 18th championship, they’ll need to get past the winner of the stacked Western Conference if they make it to the Finals. Therefore, if they feel as though Evans can give them a better chance of doing that, they’ll most likely pull the trigger.

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