What Should the Celtics Do With Their Final Roster Spot?
Being the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference last year was not good enough for Celtics General Manager Danny Ainge. “Trader Danny” pulled the trigger on a blockbuster trade that sent Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the highly-coveted 2018 Brooklyn Nets first-round pick for Kyrie Irving.*
Kyrie Irving had been in trade rumors for weeks after he reportedly requested a trade from Cleveland to get out of LeBron James’ shadow.
The Celtics gave up two starters from last year’s team (Thomas and Crowder) and a projected rotational big man this year (Zizic) in their trade for Irving. The Celtics had sixteen guaranteed contracts before the trade, but now they are down to fourteen out of the possible fifteen. This leads to the question of who the Celtics should add to finish off their roster.
Brad Stevens does not like to use conventional positions to describe a player’s role so here is how he may look at this year’s team
Ball Handlers: Kyrie Irving, Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier, Shane Larkin
Wings: Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Marcus Morris, Jayson Tatum, Abdel Nader, Semi Ojeleye
Big Men: Al Horford, Aron Baynes, Daniel Theis, Guerschon Yabusele
With one guaranteed contract available and no cap space left, the Celtics will look for a player on a rookie or veteran minimum deal. Here are some players who I think the Celtics should target:
Tony Allen: With the departure of arguably two of their best defenders on the team in Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder, the Celtics need to find some defense. Kyrie is an upgrade over Isaiah, but he is practically the same defensive liability Isaiah Thomas is. Allen could come back to where he began his career and provide defensive value off the bench. Allen is past his prime but still is a solid perimeter defender.
Gerald Green: Gerald Green had an interesting season this past year. He was the ultimate microwave and never saw consistent minutes. Green was an incredibly streaky shooter but worked as a great spark plug off the bench. While he would be another defensive liability on an already-poor defensive team, Green still provides offensive value. In addition, Gerald has a reputation as an outstanding teammate and a fantastic locker room presence. If the Celtics are not giving away minutes to their last player signed, they might as well take a glue guy like Gerald Green. Green was drafted by the Celtics and I am sure he would love the opportunity to finish his career in Boston.
Andrew Bogut: For strictly basketball purposes, Bogut would be the best choice for the Celtics. The Celtics largest problem last year was unquestionably their poor rebounding, and Bogut would greatly help that issue. Bogut is an outstanding rebounder and rim-protector, and that is exactly what the Celtics are lacking right now. Bogut almost joined the Celtics mid-season before ultimately picking the Cavaliers, but his agent said they would like to revisit the idea of Bogut-to-Boston this summer. Well, the time is now perfect for the two sides to make a deal. Bogut obviously has injury issues and could very well end up injured for the entire season, but it is a low-risk, high-reward situation. Bogut would be on a vet minimum deal so it would not be a big deal if it does not work out. Do this one, Danny.
Larry Sanders: His comeback with the Cavaliers did not look promising, but a fun possibility.
Tyler Zeller: He is a great locker room guy who knows the system.
Matt Barnes: A gritty player that can defend multiple positions, which Brad Stevens loves.
Thomas Robinson: He has certainly not lived up to his hype but has flashed at times. After bouncing around many teams, he could choose the Celtics for a chance to play meaningful games.
Boris Diaw: He is well past his prime but is still a great passing big man with playoff experience. A possibility to sign with the Celtics if his market is not what he wants it to be.
There are many free agents out there that could have an impact on the Celtics this season. The players will have to earn their minutes this year as the Celtics have an extremely talented roster from 1-14.
Additionally, how crazy is it that the number one seed in the Eastern Conference last year only has 4 returning players?! Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford and Terry Rozier are the only members of the 2016 team still around. What?!
With a projected starting lineup of Irving, Brown, Hayward, Morris and Horford, the 2017 Celtics will surely be a powerhouse in the Eastern Conference. Agents should be calling the Celtics about their last roster spot as there will not be too many better opportunities to play for such a great team and coach.