The Boston Celtics are acquiring Xavier Tillman from the Memphis Grizzlies for two second-round picks, according to Adrian Wojnarowski. Those picks will come from Atlanta in 2027 and Dallas in 2030, according to Wojnarowski. The Grizzlies are also getting forward Lamar Stevens in the deal, per Jake Fischer.
The logic for Boston is clear. While Al Horford and Kristaps Porzingis have both played well for the team with the NBA’s best record, neither are reliable bets to make it through the entire postseason at 100%. Porzingis has a lengthy history of injuries and Horford is 37 years old. Luke Kornet and Sam Hauser have provided admirable reserve minutes for Boston’s front court, but neither played much last postseason.
Tillman filled in for the injured Steven Adams admirably last season when the Grizzlies lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round. He even held up well against LeBron James when matched up with the all-time great.
Still, Tillman is bound for free agency this offseason. Even after trading Adams to the Houston Rockets earlier in this deadline cycle, the Grizzlies had serious luxury tax concerns going into next season. Now they are without both of their centers from last season, but with Jaren Jackson Jr. moving to center full-time this season, they likely believe that they can get by with a cheaper backup option. Now, they get assets back for a player they likely would have lost.
The Celtics may not be able to afford Tillman either after the season. They are deep into the tax themselves, and Tillman is a viable playoff-caliber defender at center. Those are extremely rare and don’t come cheap. But Boston isn’t thinking about the offseason right now. The Celtics are the favorites to win the NBA championship, and with this deal they’ve fortified their front line for a run at the Larry O’Brien Trophy.