Celtics’ ‘Biggest Regret’ Involves Garrison Mathews’ Contract

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Houston Rockets’ Garrison Mathews, who was cut by the Boston Celtics before the start of the season.

Brad Stevens did a great job creating the current Boston Celtics roster. The Celtics’ president of basketball operations handed overtime extensions to Marcus Smart and Robert Williams, traded for Al Horford and added Derrick White and Daniel Theis at the close.

The Celtics, playing in their first NBA Finals since 2010, are now just four wins away from flying their 18th banner. There’s probably not much Stevens should have done differently, but one move is regrettable in the eyes of Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley.

In a May 31 statement, Buckley addressed the “biggest regret” of every NBA team in the 2021-22 season.

The Celtics’ worst mistake this season was letting Houston Rockets forward Garrison Mathews run instead of finding him a roster spot, Buckley wrote.

Days before the start of the season, the Celtics waived Mathews, who was having a breakout season at Houston. However, according to The Athletic’s Jared Weiss, letting Mathews go was not part of Stevens’ initial plan.


Celtics offered Mathews spot

According to Weiss’ October 16 story, Stevens offered Boston’s second two-way spot to Mathews, who refused to take it. Instead, Mathews chose to explore other options in hopes of getting a guaranteed spot elsewhere.

“Basketball Operations President Brad Stevens will continue to look for a player to fill the team’s second two-way slot, which remains vacant following recent inventory cuts,” Weiss wrote. “Mathews turned down the two-way spot as sources say he’s still hoping for a full NBA deal elsewhere. Mathews has returned to Nashville and will be exploring other opportunities in the league but has no plans to go abroad.

Mathews eventually signed a two-way deal with the Rockets, but he was able to earn playing time in Houston. In fact, he played so well that the team gave him a shiny new four-year deal. He averaged 10 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1 assist on 36% shooting from three-point range.

Buckley pointed out that the Celtics could have fielded a shooter like Mathews as it was one of their areas of need.


Mathews would have given Celtics ‘breathing room’

The Celtics were such a patchy shooting team during the regular season that the team really suffered when their scorers got cold. Those players began to turn their fortunes towards the end of the season, but Mathews’ consistent shooting would have helped in cold spells.

“The Celtics have been under pressure throughout the season,” Buckley wrote. “Garrison Mathews could have provided more breathing room if Boston hadn’t dumped him a week before the end of the campaign.”

While Mathews was only shooting league average from deep, his percentage of the amount of threes he took would have ranked him among Boston’s best shooters.

“He ended the season with 139 three-pointers and a connection rate of 36 percent. Those numbers would have put Mathews third behind the Shamrocks in marks and third in accuracy among their volume shooters,” Buckley wrote.

It is unlikely that Mathews would have given the same freedom to shoot in Boston as he did in Houston. Still, his three-point shot would have been a useful tool for Ime Udoka and the Celtics.

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