As ever, this remarkable news was broken by Adrian Wojnarowski on Friday. The Celtics made major changes with Danny Ainge‘s departure and Brad Stevens’ promotion to the front office. This, apparently, was just the start of an offseason overhaul.
Walker was always a trade candidate this summer. Finding a deal was always tricky, though, as the size and length of the contract would put most general managers off.
Walker for Horford analysis
Sam Presti was always an option. Bringing back Horford had its issues, but this gives the Celtics a veteran big, which they have missed since Horford departed for the Sixers. Presti is willing to do any deal which increases his outrageous haul of draft picks.
This is another masterstroke for the Thunder executive. They have three firsts in this year’s draft, and managed to get extra assets for Horford after acquiring assets by taking his contract. Walker’s remaining $73 million might be seen as an issue, but the same was thought when they acquired Chris Paul and Horford in similar salary-dump trades.
Horford is healthier than Walker. He’s a better fit alongside Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. A spacing big like Horford is just what they’ve needed, and the deal is shorter. Moses Brown is an exciting young talent, too.
It’s easy to see why the Celtics have done this. Walker’s contract looked like an anchor on the organization. Injuries have ruined his time in Boston, and he’s been unable to reliably perform when healthy. If nothing else, opening up the cap sheet in offseasons to come is useful. Giving up the 16th pick is a high price to pay, though, when they are still getting Horford’s bloated contract back.
The Celtics’ best chance to address their lack of depth is through the draft. This trade has taken away that avenue this summer.
This is a fascinating deal. These might be two bad contracts, but Horford is still a good player, even if he’s overpaid. Walker, if he gets healthy, can help the Thunder’s young guards and perhaps get flipped to a contender next season.
It says a lot about where the Celtics are that they have already made multiple major offseason moves before the Conference Finals have started. This is just a step on the road to building a contender around Tatum and Brown, and it looks like a fair deal if Horford can perform at the level he did in the first half of last season.
For OKC, this is just what Presti does. His ability to accumulate assets is endlessly impressive.