The NBA season is right around the corner and in classic NBA fashion, there were several big moves right at the buzzer. Damian Lillard was finally traded (to the Milwaukee Bucks) and that opened the door for the Boston Celtics to trade for Jrue Holiday. Thankfully for the Los Angeles Lakers, neither of these trades impacted the path to making the NBA Finals.
It still is frustrating for Lakes fans to see a solid player like Holiday going to the rivaled Celtics. Life is better in LA when the Celtics are bad. Trading for Holiday was the perfect response by a Boston team that just saw its biggest competition add a superstar point guard.
To make the move even more bitter for Lakers fans, the Celtics went out and added a former Lakers fan favorite after the deal. Robert Williams was traded to Portland in the deal, opening a big-man spot in the rotation. Thus, the Celtics signed former Laker Wenyen Gabriel.
Gabriel still has to earn a spot on the NBA roster as this is just a training camp deal. Boston is hopeful that he can do that after a strong FIBA World Cup for South Sudan. That strong World Cup performance may have led the Celtics to sign the wrong player, though.
The Celtics signed the wrong former Lakers center
Instead of Wenyen Gabriel the Boston Celtics may have gotten more out of signing Dwight Howard. It is crazy, we know, but Howard’s name has been in the NBA rumor mill in recent weeks and he still has something to offer to an NBA team.
Gabriel (or Howard, if he was signed) is not going to play a prominent role in Boston. He is going to be a depth option for regular-season purposes. Boston needs someone to eat big man minutes to keep Al Horford fresh for when the games really matter.
Gabriel is a fine option to do that but he is not a traditional center. He is undersized compared to a traditional NBA big (six-foot-nine) and isn’t necessarily a prominent rim protector or rebounder.
Boston only has three players over six-foot-nine — Kristaps Porzingis, Luke Kornet and Neemis Queta. Porzingis is obviously a special situation while Kornet and Queta are both unproven. The Celtics would benefit from having a veteran seven-footer in the room, similar to how the team had Blake Griffin last season.
Howard could have been that veteran seven-footer. He is still more than capable of giving the team 10 regular-season minutes a night to score four points with five rebounds. When Horford and/or Porzingis aren’t playing, Howard could still produce if he needed to play 20 minutes.
Howard would have given Boston that traditional rim protection and rebounding center that the team doesn’t really have at the moment. As promising as Gabriel was in the World Cup, that isn’t the type of center that he is.