Friday, September 29, 2023

NBA trade grades: Celtics send Dennis Schroder, Enes Freedom to Rockets for Daniel Theis, per report

Right before the NBA trade deadline’s final buzzer at 3 p.m. ET on Thursday, the Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets completed a trade that will send Dennis Schroder, Enes Freedom and Bruno Fernando to Houston, and Daniel Theis to Boston, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski

The Celtics signed Schroder to a one-year deal last offseason, and it always seemed like a short-term arrangement. With Schroder set to hit free agency again in the summer, it made sense for the Celtics trade him now rather than lose him for nothing — especially since they don’t look like contenders in the East. 

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They did just that by sending him to Houston in exchange for Theis, who spent three-plus seasons with the Celtics before he was traded to the Chicago Bulls at last year’s trade deadline. Theis will give the Celtics some much-needed frontcourt depth, and is already familiar with most players on the roster, so there will be little acclimation time. 

As for the Rockets, they will almost certainly agree to a buyout with Schroder, clearing the way for him to join a contender ahead of the playoffs. Freedom, who has played sparingly this season, was immediately waived, per Wojnarowski. That was not surprising considering he made no sense on a rebuilding Rockets team that already has a logjam in the frontcourt. 

Let’s grade the trade.

Boston receives: Daniel Theis

Houston receives: Dennis Schroder. Enes Freedom, Bruno Fernando

Celtics trade grade: A-

The Celtics’ biggest moves last offseason came off the court, as Brad Stevens left the sidelines to take over for Danny Ainge in the front office, and Ime Udoka was hired as the new head coach. They did add a few new players, though, including Dennis Schroder on a one-year deal. 

That was widely seen as a mutually beneficial deal. Schroder, who reportedly turned down a massive extension with the Lakers last year, would get a chance to play for a playoff team and recoup some of his value heading into 2023 free agency. The Celtics, meanwhile, would get a veteran point guard and an asset for a potential future deal. Things generally played out as expected. 

In particular, for the Celtics, they were able to flip Schroder to the Rockets for Theis. That’s a terrific return for a player who wasn’t going to be a part of the team’s long-term future. The Celtics brought Theis over to the NBA from Germany in 2017, and he spent three-plus seasons with the club before he was traded to the Chicago Bulls on last year’s trade deadline. 

Now he’s back in Boston and should slot in perfectly as the club’s third big man behind emerging star Robert Williams III and veteran Al Horford. While Theis is not the most exciting player, he does everything you’d want from a back-up big: he works hard, plays defense and sets tremendous screens. And since he’s well-acquainted with most of the roster, he won’t need much time to re-adjust. 

That the Celtics were able to save money by including Freedom and Fernando only makes this deal a bigger success for them. Good stuff from Stevens on his first deadline. 

Rockets trade grade: C

The Rockets immediately waived Freedom, which was not a surprise. There was a time when Freedom could make up for his slow feet and poor defense with high-level rebounding and interior scoring, but those days appear to be behind him. He played sparingly for the Celtics and it’s not clear if another team is going to pick him up this season. 

Schroder may never play a game for the Rockets either. They already have John Wall staying home all season because they want to prioritize their young backcourt of Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr., and Schroder won’t want to stay there. They’ll agree to a buyout at some point, but it will likely take longer to figure out than Freedom’s situation. 

Fernando is set to be a restricted free agent this summer, so he may not be long for Houston either. This was primarily a salary dump by the Rockets. Signing Theis to a four-year deal never really made much sense for a rebuilding team, and now they get his money off the books. In addition, it should make their frontcourt rotation a little cleaner. 

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