Celtics Predicted to Strike Out on Big Man Free Agent


Thomas Bryant, Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics are on the hunt for a new big man after selling Daniel Theis as part of Malcolm Brogdon’s trade package.

Ime Udoka likes to play a twice the size lineup, meaning both the power forward and center are big men, which goes against the current pace and space era the NBA is in.

As such, Boston requires a constant rotation of talented, well-rounded greats, and Theis’ departure has left them a little understaffed. As such, Thomas Bryant has been rumored to be a potential target for the Celtics should he be willing to accept a minimum contract for the season.

Unfortunately, according to Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz, the Celtics are likely to miss Bryant as the Los Angeles Lakers are interested in reuniting with their former center this offseason and could potentially offer him a starting role.

“Although the Lakers may not have the contract he desires, they could promise him something no other team could promise: a starting job. If Anthony Davis doesn’t start in the middle, Los Angeles currently has newly signed Damian Jones as an option. Veteran Dwight Howard is still a free agent. Bryant could be looking to rehabilitate his value as a starting center in LA on a minimum contract and try to make money in the next offseason,” Swartz wrote on July 3.

To further complicate the Celtics’ pursuit of Bryant, Brad Turner of the LA Times reported that the Toronto Raptors are also interested in the versatile big man. However, both the Celtics and Lakers want to be championship contenders next season, and that could have a big impact on any decision the 24-year-old center makes.

Luke Kornet could get a bigger role

On July 1, the Celtics re-signed Luke Kornet to a two-year contract with the veteran minimum, with the contract only partially guaranteed – according to a report by Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes.

Kornet appeared in 12 games for the Celtics last season, averaging 2.2 points, 2.1 rebounds and 0.7 assists per game while shooting 57.1% from the field. However, Udoka likes his players to be defensively versatile, which means they are able to defend multiple positions, allowing them to alternate screening actions consistently. Kornet doesn’t fit this defensive prototype style and would force Boston to adjust their defensive system to ease their presence off the bench.

Still, Kornet is a 7-foot-two rim guard who’s also a capable three-point shooter, and his presence in the rotation could add another dimension to the Celtics for opponents to contend with.

Kelly Olynyk a suggested alternative

If Bryant is genuinely interested in a Lakers reunion, Brad Stevens could perhaps lure one of his former centers back to Boston, with big man Kelly Olynyk currently looking like a legitimate target for big men with the Evan Fournier TPE.

According to Boston.com’s Conor Roche, the Celtics could be tempted to bring Olynyk back to Boston should they fail to lure Bryant, though the deal would have to be via trade.

“They were reportedly inquiring about free agent center Thomas Bryant. If they can’t land him, former Celtic and current Pistons center Kelly Olynyk’s salary will fit into the trade exemption,” Roche wrote.

However, it seems unlikely the Celtics will want to intrude further into the luxury tax, so Olynyk could be an option for the front office to break a glass in an emergency.

Still, Boston’s $17.2 million trade exception expires on July 18, so time is ticking for Stevens to capitalize on it, but it’s looking increasingly likely given the recent additions to the team of Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari expect this exception to expire.

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