Offseason outlook: How Celtics can bolster their depth this summer

BOSTON – In many ways, the NBA offseason is even more entertaining than the actual season that teams play basketball. From the rumors to the speculations to the… rumors and speculations… it’s a soap opera like no other.

And then the free agents actually sign or trades don’t go under, and of course none of that lives up to the hype. So life is.

The Boston Celtics likely won’t be involved in the well-known free agents or blockbuster trade talks (minus some Kevin Durant rumours), but they have things to do this summer. They were just two wins short of claiming the title, but the team’s troubles became apparent as they lost the final three games of the season. Brad Stevens and company cannot become complacent and must constantly add to what already exists.

The good news is that what already exists in Boston is pretty damn good. The Celtics have a dynamic young duo to build around in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, both of whom are getting better every year. Marcus Smart, Robert Williams and Al Horford round out a strong starting XI and Derrick White, Grant Williams and Payton Pritchard are good options off the bench.

But after Tatum and Brown played some ridiculous minutes in the regular season and playoffs, and looked gassed during the NBA Finals against the Warriors, it’s clear the C’s need to dig deeper to give their stars a break throughout the season .

How can Stevens pull this off? Boston owners are willing to spend money, but Stevens doesn’t have much room for caps and only the mid-level exception. But he has a massive collection of TPEs that could offer him an opportunity to strengthen the Celtics roster for the 2022-23 season.

Here’s a quick breakdown of Boston’s upcoming off-season.

roster breakdown

Most of the roster building has been completed as the Celtics currently have nine players signed with guaranteed contracts for next season. That doesn’t include Al Horford, who will likely pick up his option or work out a multi-year deal to stay in Boston.

Guaranteed Contracts

Jayson Tatum
Jaylen Brown
Markus Smart
Robert Williams
Grant Williams
Derrick White
Payton Pritchard
Aaron Nesmith
Daniel Theis

Partial/Non-Guaranteed Contracts

Al Horford ($26.5M – $19.5M Guaranteed)
Sam Hauser ($1.6 million – $300,000 guaranteed)*
Nik Stauskas ($2.2 million – not guaranteed)
Malik Fitts ($1.8 million – not guaranteed)
Juwan Morgan ($1.8 million – not guaranteed)*

*team option

You can also add JD Davison to those vying for a spot on the Boston list after the Celtics designed the big-haired dunk machine with the 53rd overall pick last week. Boston has until July 15 to figure out what to do with Stauskas, but he’s the only player in the mix with a guaranteed deadline.

The Celtics will easily surpass the projected $149 million luxury tax ceiling and will face life as a hard-ceiling team if they exceed the $155.7 million tax skirt. But ownership has made it clear they will spend money to keep the team competitive – and help them get over the hump.

Needs

Boston’s needs are primarily focused on depth. There is a great need for Depth, someone who can give Tatum and Brown some rest during the regular season (and in the playoffs) so they don’t crawl back to the finish line. Yes, they’re both young, but it would be nice if they had a little more in the tank next postseason.

It also needs a little more depth with their bigs. Horford, Rob and Grant Williams and Daniel Theis are a solid collection of great men, but it’s not enough. Horford turns 37 and has just played some big minutes and he will likely sit back-to-back again next season. Rob Williams makes all the difference on the pitch, so the Celtics must do everything they can to ensure he’s on the pitch at the most important moments. A few planned free nights during the season should help.

A little more three-point shooting and another playmaker would also be a good addition for the Boston bench.

Free agency

Free Agency tips on Thursday 30 June at 6pm, then teams and players can start contract negotiations. Deals can be agreed, but they won’t be official for another week.

You’ve probably heard that a few big names have been thrown around in the last week. Names like Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal. They would certainly be welcome in Boston, but there’s no real way to get them into Boston without giving up some serious assets in a trade. Both would likely require the Celtics to dismantle their current core.

So set your expectations lower. Much, much lower. The Celtics have exactly the mid-level taxpayer expectation this summer, which is worth $6.392 million. Luckily, they’re a team flirting with two rising stars and a hugely personable coach with title shots, so the Celtics will be able to attract veterans looking to win.

Patty Mills is an interesting option if he declines his player option with Brooklyn. He could beat threes off the bench and is a solid presenter, plus he has a long working relationship with Ime Udoka from their San Antonio days.

Brooklyn’s Bruce Brown is also familiar with Udoka, not to mention that he’s from Boston and would be a solid two-way addition for the backcourt. The same could be said for gary harriswho is likely to want to move to a successful team after spending the last season and a half with Magic.

As far as big men, Los Angeles’ Isaiah Hartenstein won’t be selling tickets, but the seven-footer is leaving a career year for the Clippers. The 24-year-old has picked up four different teams in his five NBA seasons, but averaged 8.3 points and 4.9 rebounds in 68 games for Los Angeles last season. He’s a solid passer who could bring some peace of mind to Rob Williams and Horford on the Boston forecourt.

The TPEs

This is where Stevens can do real damage. He has eight Traded Player Exceptions to take advantage of, including a massive one that expires in mid-July. With TPEs, you either use them or you lose them, so Stevens will be working hard to find the best way to use these exceptions:

  • Evan Fournier – $17.1 million (July 18)
  • Juancho Hernangomez – $6.9 million (January 19)
  • Dennis Schroder – $5.9 million (February 10)
  • Bol Bol – $2.2 million (February 10)
  • PJ Dozier – $1.9 million (February 10)
  • Bruno Fernando – $1.8 million (February 10)
  • Enes Freedom – $1.7 million (February 10)
  • Tristan Thompson – $1.4 million (July 7)

Chances are some of these smaller ones will come and go without being used. But that Fournier exception could help Boston make a big acquisition with names like Utah this summer Jordan ClarksonWashington’s Kyle Kuzmaand Los Angeles’ Mark Morris be mentioned as potential pickups.

summary

The Celtics aren’t very busy this summer, but they’re not overly busy either. They’ll go into next season as title contenders and are just trying to round the edges, making them an attractive target for veterans looking for a new home – and a shot at a ring.

That doesn’t mean Brad Stevens is going to sit back and relax, because one thing the Celtics can’t do this summer is get fed up with last season’s success. You can’t just count on everyone currently in the roster getting better; You must put everyone in the best possible position to be successful. Adding more depth at key points in the roster is key to all that’s to come next season.

The Celtics will look the same for the most part, but hopefully they’ll be a much deeper and stronger group when the 2022-23 season comes to an end.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.