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Tiago Splitter would be a welcome addition down low for the Green.
While the sheer mention of Tiago Splitter as a top probability for the Celtics' offseason might illicit some rolling of the eyes, it couldn't make much more sense.
In only about 25 minutes a game this season, Splitter averaged 10.3 points off 56 percent shooting for the San Antonio Spurs. He also grabbed 6.4 boards and logged 1.6 assists and 0.8 blocks per game.
For a guy standing at 6'11” and 240 pounds, he has good footwork and natural intelligence. He plays a very physical brand of basketball, and finishes well near the hoop. The third-year guy could be a breakout candidate in Doc Rivers' system.
Splitter played 81 out of 82 games this season, proving that the Brazilian is as healthy and durable as any center in their late-20s. His free throw shooting has improved substantially (74 percent), as has his man-to-man defense (96.1 defensive rating). And the kid not only shoots 57 percent for his career—he posted an 18.72 player efficiency rating on an upper echelon team this season.
Flashing great hands and mobility, the pros outweigh the cons with Splitter. He only made $3.9 million this season, so he could just be the most affordable option in a crowded big-man market. Expect Ainge to take a long, hard look at the restricted free agent if San Antonio declines to make him a $5.87 million qualifying offer.
Notes on other potential options:
David West, PF: Proven scorer and big body down low, but too old and injury-prone for Ainge to consider offering big money. West made $10 million this season, and turns 33 in August.
Chris Kaman, C: Intriguing option considering his size, rebounding and intelligence. The German bruiser could be worth a mid-level exception if Boston could pull it off.
J.J. Redick, SG: Sharpshooter who has always been considered one-dimensional, at least until a breakout 2012-13 season. A much better option than Avery Bradley at the two, but not nearly worth the big bucks he'll be expecting.
Kyle Korver, SG: A more affordable option than Redick in the sniper role, Korver could fit in well with the Green if Jason Terry and/or Courtney Lee get sent packing this summer.
Devin Harris, PG: Reliable veteran to back up Rondo. Intelligent and very quick for a 30-year-old, with 14.6 points and five assists per 36 minutes this season.