Jan 27, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Grant Williams (3) walks off the court after the Mavericks lose to the Sacramento Kings at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

A conference opponent is allegedly in talks about acquiring a former member of the Celtics through trade.

As the trade deadline of February 8 approaches, the Boston Celtics, leading the NBA with a record of 38-12, are actively exploring options to strengthen their bench before the playoffs.

While the Celtics could opt to maintain their current roster and promote Neemias Queta to a full-time contract from his two-way deal, making a minor adjustment to enhance their depth chart might be the wisest move. However, there are possibilities for them to make a significant trade.

Amidst deliberations across the league, NBA Insider Marc Stein, in his Substack newsletter “The Stein Line,” reported that the Dallas Mavericks and Milwaukee Bucks have engaged in discussions about a potential trade involving Grant Williams.

Stein noted, “The Bucks and Mavericks have had preliminary talks regarding a swap that would involve Milwaukee’s Bobby Portis and Dallas newcomer Grant Williams.”

Williams, formerly with the University of Tennessee, saw limited action in Boston’s rotation last season, making it challenging to justify extending his contract as a restricted free agent in the offseason.

However, the dynamics changed when the Celtics had the opportunity to acquire Jrue Holiday, a two-time All-Star averaging 13.1 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game this season. Holiday, who also boasts a 42.3 percent success rate from three-point range, significantly bolstered the team’s lineup and defensive capabilities.

Williams’ initial season with the Mavericks started promisingly. By December, he was shooting 43 percent from beyond the arc and averaging 9.8 points per game in the team’s first 17 matches.

Nevertheless, his performance has since declined significantly. Despite averaging 7.3 points per game since December 1, Williams has struggled defensively for a Mavericks team allowing 118.5 points per game, placing them among the bottom ten in the league in that category.

Conversely, Bobby Portis, a key contributor to the Bucks’ 2021 NBA championship victory and a beloved figure in Milwaukee, is currently averaging 12.6 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, with a 38 percent success rate from three-point range.

Portis, soon to turn 29, is under contract with the Bucks for $11.7 million this season, $12.6 million for the 2024-25 season, and holds a player option worth $13.4 million for 2025-26.

While discussions between the two teams may primarily involve due diligence, it’s uncertain whether they will lead to a trade involving Portis and Williams. Williams initially joined Dallas in a three-team sign-and-trade deal involving the San Antonio Spurs, signing a four-year, $53.3 million contract with Boston before being rerouted to the Mavericks, thereby creating a $6.2 million traded player exception for his former team.

Given Boston’s status above the luxury tax threshold, they might be compelled to leverage this exception before it expires post-trade deadline, in line with the more stringent collective bargaining agreement.

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