The Boston Celtics are currently embroiled in a memorable battle with the Washington Wizards in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

However, while the Celtics are currently fighting for a position in this year’s postseason Conference Finals, they are also going to have to fight for a position next year in the near future.

A top four pick in the NBA Draft this June will definitely help their playoff case, but an acquisition of a star through trade or free agency will help seal the deal for Boston as a top team in the East for the 2017-18 season. If Boston were to let go of some of their stockpile of assets in return for a top tier player this offseason, who would it be? Here are some names to look out for.

Jimmy Butler

The number one way for the Celtics to become instant title contenders in 2017-18 is to add another star. The Celtics have a guard-heavy roster and this year’s draft is a guard-heavy draft, so trading for or picking up a point guard in free agency isn’t in the Celtics’ best interests. However, if Boston were to decide to lay it all on the line and make a blockbuster trade, one of their main targets would be Jimmy Butler. Butler is on a struggling Chicago Bulls team who, during the trade deadline were actively shopping him in return for picks and young assets.

Butler is a huge star who not only would add a boost to Boston but bring them almost level talent-wise with the defensively-plagued Cleveland Cavaliers. With Boston only giving up one or two role players on the team plus the Brooklyn Nets pick, they really wouldn’t have to demolish their current lineup to get a trade of this proportion done, which is extremely rare in the NBA these days. Celtics legend Paul Pierce also recently added his thoughts on the Butler situation:

Gordon Hayward

Another player for Boston to look at is Gordon Hayward. Hayward is a top five small forward in the league who already knows coach Brad Stevens from his days playing college ball at Butler. He would provide an immediate boost to Boston’s offense, as he is known for his consistent shooting and three-point accuracy.

He would also help with Boston’s rebounding woes, as he has snagged 6.1 boards per game this season so far. He will most likely be a free agent this summer, meaning Boston wouldn’t have to let go of much to reel him in. If the Celtics were to attain Hayward, it would also mean that players like Jae Crowder could become tradable for even more assets. He is definitely Boston’s number one target going into free agency if they fail to land a superstar like Butler.

Blake Griffin

Lastly, the Celtics could definitely use a player like Blake Griffin. Every single trade deadline, Griffin to Boston rumors swirl. The 28-year-old is a freak of nature who would be an instant boost both offensively and defensively to the team. He has a huge amount of raw talent, plus he fills Boston’s biggest need at the power forward position. However, Griffin comes with baggage; he was limited to only 61 games this season due to injuries and has been known to be extremely injury prone.

If the Celtics were to try to secure Griffin during free agency, it would be a high-risk, high-reward type situation, but the payout could be amazing.

In the end, what Danny Ainge should keep in mind when making the deals during this offseason is the end goal: winning a championship. It is pretty clear that the best and quickest way to do that is to trade for a superstar like Butler or attain a top-level free agent such as Hayward. These players can catapult the Celtics to championship-level basketball and make Boston serious contenders for the O’Brien trophy in the coming years.

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