Top Free Agent Targets: Boston Celtics (Kemba Walker Edition)
Max Cap Space: $34.8 Million
Projected Cap Space: ?
Update: The Kemba-to-the-Celtics rumors have been gaining steam lately. In the past two days reports about Walker signing with Beantown have been detonated by none other than Woj himself. Therefore, I’ll offer some offseason scenarios that consider what could happen if the All-NBA 3rd team guard signs in Boston.
Presumably, Walker would have a starting salary of $32.7 million, leaving the Celtics little room to acquire a big man. Dedmon would be an ideal fit. There were only two players in the league last year who averaged at least one block and one steal while playing less than 26 minutes per game. Dedmon was one of them and DeMarcus Cousins was the other.
The big man can also stretch the floor, hitting 38.2 percent of the 3.4 triples per game he attempted. The Celtics could offer Dedmon a starting position but he likely wants a long-term deal to go with it. Only the one-year room exception of $4.8 million could be offered to Dedmon and he will likely land elsewhere for more money.
I’m all in on this signing. Last season Davis led all players who played at least 1400 minutes in total rebound percentage. Additionally, he finished fourth in offensive rebound percentage with the same minutes qualifier. The Cs could desperately use his help on the glass.
Davis earned the $4.4 million room exception last season and could earn $400,000 more if he signed with Boston. Plus, he could be lured with an opportunity to earn a starting role. An adequate shot blocker and rebounder, Davis could keep the center position afloat while also leaving minutes for bigs like Robert Williams, Guerschon Yabusele and Grant Williams to develop.
Nevermind, I’m all in on this signing instead. O’Quinn did not play much in Indiana as he competed with Myles Turner, Damontas Sabonis and Thad Young for frontcourt minutes.
Yet, this former second round draft pick would be loved by Brad Stevens. O’Quinn is one of the most underrated passing big men in the NBA. Although he played sparingly, O’Quinn posted a higher assist percentage than soon to be former Celtic Al Horford. It is reasonable for the Celtics to grab him with the veteran’s minimum or possibly the $2.1 million left over from a potential Walker signing.
Other Minimum Bigs
Joakim Noah proved that he may still have a little gas left in the tank. His passing and defensive IQ could serve in a limited role. About the same argument could be made for guys like Tyson Chandler and Robin Lopez. None of these players, however, could be used as a reliable starter. Let’s address the other holes which need to be plugged.
Bring Dudley back to his Boston College stomping grounds. To sign Walker, the Celtics must lose Marcus Morris. Dudley could fill the combo forward void. He spent 84 percent of his minutes at the four spot last year and would replace Morris’ toughness and physicality. Will he be available for the veteran minimum?
The free agent from Minnesota toggled between small and power forward last year. In his last four seasons Tolliver has nailed 39 percent of his 3-pointers while taking just under four per game. Although he is a matchup-dependable player, Tolliver should be attained if he comes at the minimum price.
The combo forward and tattoo legend had arguably his best year as a pro last season. Scott is now a 3-point specialist as evident by his 40 percent clip from behind the line.
If Philadelphia brings back both Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris, Scott may be looking for a place where he can see more opportunity. The Celtics would most likely bring him off of the bench but, he would probably get more shots due to their need for bench scoring. Still, signing Scott would require the Celtics to use their room exception, which would be better spent on a traditional big man.
If Walker signs then Brad Stevens will have to figure out who starts next to him in the backcourt. Marcus Smart would be my guess. His 3-point shot finally came around and his defensive prowess must be maximized.
Jaylen Brown may return to the bench; a place he thrived last season. Is Carsen Edwards ready to be the point guard next to Brown? Sure, the Celtics could stagger Smart’s or Gordon Hayward’s minutes to have them be the second unit playmaker. Could they sign a more proven guard, however?
Isaiah Thomas just informed Woj that his health is back to normal. Time will tell. A minimum contract could be worth it, though. Once if the Nets sign Kyrie Irving, they will have a plethora of guards. Trading for Shabazz Napier and reuniting him with college mentor is a solid option as well.