By Shams Sarania, Jared Weiss, Jay King and Jason Quick
The Portland Trail Blazers are trading Jrue Holiday to the Boston Celtics, according to league sources. In exchange for Holiday, Portland will receive guard Malcolm Brockton, center Rob Williams, Boston’s 2029 unprotected first-round pick and the Golden State Warriors’ 2024 first-round pick, a team source said.
Four days after Holiday went to Portland in a three-team trade, the Blazers sent star Damian Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks. The trade involved the Trail Blazers receiving Holiday, Deandre Ayton, Doumani Kamara, the Bucs’ 2029 first-round pick and the Bucs draft swaps in 2028 and 2030.
Sunday’s trade is substantial for Portland, who have now traded Lillard, Jusuf Nurkic, Nasir Little and Keon Johnson for Ayton, Williams, Brockton, three first-round picks and two draft picks. Boston’s dramatic move to pay a hefty price for an All-Star who will be playing in his mid-30s after this season is indicative of how hard the Celtics are working for a championship.
After trading away longtime franchise cornerstone Marcus Smart for Kristaps Porecassis, head coach Brad Stevens replaced fan favorite Williams as part of a larger package to secure the offseason. But as the Bucks moved up to title favorites after the Lillard deal, the Celtics had to make another sacrifice to keep the East arms race going.
It also brings resolution to the Brockton saga, which suffered when a deal to send him to the Los Angeles Clippers fell through during Porchesis trade talks in June. Brockton, a 2023 sixth man, wanted a different start after the near-trade, according to league sources who spoke on condition of anonymity because they could speak freely.
Boston is also finalizing a deal with forward/center Wenyen Gabriel, league sources said Sunday. Gabriel, who averaged 5.5 points and 4.2 rebounds for the Los Angeles Lakers last season, will compete for a reserve big-man spot in Boston.
His strong performance for South Sudan at the FIBA World Cup this summer helped secure the team’s first Olympic berth. Gabriel averaged 9.2 points and 6.8 rebounds for South Sudan and worked out for the Celtics in Boston in recent weeks.
Are the Celtics favorites in the East?
They are already one of the favorites. They remain the same with holidays on the list. I’m not sure if I’d personally put them ahead of the Bucks in the rankings of title contenders, but I’d put those two teams in their own tier above anyone else in the Eastern Conference.
The Celtics now have two of the NBA’s best defensive guards in Holiday and Derrick White; Two great wings in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown; And two really good two-way big men in Porchesis and Al Horford. Even if Boston’s depth and size win this trade, the Celtics should be talented enough to top the roster to give any team serious problems. A playoff series between Man, Boston and Milwaukee will be fun. – King
Why Boston Was Open to Dealing Williams
Simple answer: Only the Celtics had a chance to land Holiday with Williams on the table. However, he will be a significant loss. As good as Holiday is defensively, Boston sacrificed a lot of size and shot blocking in this trade. The team can still use double-big lineups with Porchesis and Horford, but won’t be able to use that look as often with Williams in Portland.
The trade would also result in a bigger role for Luke Cornett. He was solid last season, but the Celtics may not have seen many minutes if they kept Williams. It’s not yet clear who Joe Mazzulla will start coaching, but he could go small with White and Holiday in the backcourt or big with Horford and Bourchisassis in the frontcourt. – King
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Why the Blazers immediately traded Holiday
The Blazers are committed to young players Scoot Henderson and Anfernee Simons at point guard and want to give them long minutes to grow and mature, so keeping Holiday doesn’t make sense. The same reasoning can be applied to Brocton. – Quick
What is the value here for Portland?
Portland addressed two critical areas in the remake of their roster: defense and big man depth. Williams is a former All-NBA defensive team member who finished second in the NBA in blocks per game during the 2021-22 season. There are some injury concerns with Williams — he had surgery on his left knee in March and September 2022 — and he played in just 35 games last season.
But he’s still young — he turns 26 in two weeks — and he and Ayton, the starting centers, are players who play offensively above the rim, a stark contrast to former starting center Nurkic. – Quick
Holiday, 33, spent the last three seasons in Milwaukee and was a member of the 2021 championship team. Last season, he averaged 19.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 7.4 assists in 67 games.
The Celtics emerged as a potential landing spot for Holiday following the Lillard trade. The blockbuster deal came as a surprise because Lillard requested a trade on July 1 and made it known that the Miami Heat were his preferred destination. However, Miami and Portland reportedly never engaged in substantive negotiations, and as the summer progressed, the Blazers began having serious talks with other teams.
Now that the dust has settled on the stunning trade, the Celtics have a two-time All-Star break. He spent the first four seasons of his career with the Philadelphia 76ers, who drafted him in the first round in 2009. Holiday then moved to the New Orleans Pelicans for seven seasons following a 2013 trade from the Phillies.
(Photo: Jeff Hanisch/USA Today)