With the rumored departure of a few bench players and the question of Jaylen Brown’s supermax extension, the Celtics have a lot on their plate this offseason. The draft is also on the horizon, and with only one second-round pick, the draft isn’t on Boston’s mind. So the question begs to be asked: Who should the Celtics target this offseason and why?
The market seems to be booming with available centers this offseason. With the unlikely experiment of Blake Griffin coming to a close, the Celtics should look to find a worthy replacement for the bench and an injury replacement for Al Horford and Robert Williams. A few big names include Brook Lopez, Jakob Poeltl and Nikola Vucevic. However, Brown’s looming supermax may scare away players seeking a big payday.
Naz Reid of the Minnesota Timberwolves was a huge surprise to Minnesota’s fans this season. Despite putting up similar statistics his entire four-year career, the absence of Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns showed he could step up in times of need. Last season, he averaged 11.5 on 59% shooting. Earlier in the season, he put up a career-high of 30 against the defending champions.
At a mere $1.5 million contract (albeit he will surely demand higher pay with his recent play), Reid would play an important back-up role for Boston. He would also fit in well with Boston’s young team with a strong mentor in Al Horford.
After getting traded by the Lakers mid-season, Thomas Bryant will become a free agent after the season with Denver. Bryant, currently 26, has fallen to a minor role on the Lakers to inactive with Denver. Boston could offer Bryant the playing time he currently seeks as an important bench boost.
Bryant averaged just over 12 per game on the Lakers on 65.4% shooting from two. He also averaged 44% from 3 on .35 attempts per game. His contract with Denver and Los Angeles was just over $2 million, but will likely be around the same price tag this offseason.
Despite being at a somewhat high price, Brook Lopez would be a perfect fit on the Celtics roster. As a shooting big, Brook’s strengths are numerous. Lopez can play in the paint efficiently, and even splash a 3 from behind the arc (or multiple!). He’s even drawn attention in recent seasons for his defensive efforts, gaining his 2nd all-defense team nomination this past season.
Lopez averaged 16 per game this season with a 36-point game against Miami in the playoffs. It was also his best shooting season from range statistically, as he drained 37% from 3. With the addition of Lopez, the Celtics would move Horford to the bench for fewer minutes and add more shooting to the bench. With championship experience, Lopez would be a stellar addition to an already stacked roster.
Filling Out The Roster
The Celtics’ main hole in the roster came at the center position. If Horford sits out and Williams is injured, the Celtics rely on Luke Kornet at the five. Despite Boston’s bench being named one of the best benches in the league with 6MOY Brogdon and other great players, the departures of Grant Williams and Payton Pritchard will leave a hole to be filled.
It looks as if the starting lineup will be Marcus Smart, Derrick White, Brown, Jayson Tatum and Horford, but the bench will need to be filled out. A good bench contributes strongly to winning championships.
The less popular of the Curry brothers, Seth is entering the free-agent market after two seasons with Brooklyn. Although he’s coming off one of his worst 3-point shooting seasons, he still shot 40% from behind the arc. After two straight seasons of averaging 15 points per game, he dropped to a low 9.2 points per game. This could be explained from a role decrease from starter in the past seasons to bench player.
The Celtics need spacing. Seth Curry provides that by being able to space the floor with his 3-point shooting. He’s not always going to be a go-to point guard but can be a guy the Celtics can trust behind the arc.
There was a lot of controversy following Brooks this season, especially after the Grizzlies underperformed during the playoffs. Even though he struggled a little more in the playoffs compared to the regular season, Brooks is a hard player. When he doesn’t have the intensity on the offensive end, he turns it up defensively. This makes him an extremely difficult player to face and as a fan, a difficult player to watch your team face.
Off the bench, Brooks would bring a new level of ferocity to the team. With Smart, White and Brooks, Boston’s defense would jump to another level at the guard position. At a price tag of $11.4 million expiring, Brooks will be lucky to get a similar contract deal within the NBA. A pay cut may land him a spot in Boston.
Before the 2022-23 season in Phoenix, Craig was seen as a bench player who could always get a basket a game. This season, he started 60 out of the 79 games played and averaged over 7/5/1 per game. Craig’s last contract, a $5.1 million contract with the Suns, came to a close and will easily make a great addition to any team needing a veteran power forward off the bench.
With the departure of Grant Williams, the Celtics will need another big to replace the PF. Craig brings veteran expertise, as well as a couple points per game to the table.
Who else should the Celtics look to target this offseason?
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