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Big Al might want back... but can Boston afford him?
Speaking of centers, former Celtic Al Jefferson comes off the books for Utah this summer. Many B/R readers have already suggested the Celtics should do what they can to go after him, but it looks like a risky deal.
“Big Al” blossomed into a star after departing Boston for the Minnesota Timberwolves in the KG trade six years ago. Since that deal, he has averaged 19.5 points and a hair under 10 rebounds per game, as well as 1.5 blocks and 0.8 steals. He hasn't shot lower than 49 percent during that span.
Nobody's refuting Jefferson's talent. Or the fact that he would “love” to return to the Celtics. The biggest concern with Al involves the level of salary he will likely expect.
Widely considered one of the most attractive big men on the open market, he will likely garner the last big contract of his career. Suffice to say, it will be well over the $10 million Boston would be left with, even with a Pierce sign-and-trade.
If Ainge can somehow bring Jefferson in, it would obviously fill an immediate need down low. Plus, it would get people in the TD Garden seats, which otherwise might be difficult without Pierce and KG.
But if his main priority is to stay competitive for as long as possible, getting the team in the same salary problem he just solved could prove disastrous. After this year, the “win or deal with the cap issues later” approach might not work again.
More realistic options include San Antonio Spurs center Tiago Splitter, Al-Farouq Aminu of the New Orleans Pelicans or Chris Andersen of the Miami Heat. Quality options exist in the NBA draft as well, including Gorgui Dieng and Kelly Olynyk.
Other former Celtics Ainge should avoid:
Nate Robinson, PG: Had a great year in Chicago and even competed for Sixth Man honors, but still plays too much one-on-one to fit in this young Doc Rivers offense.
Tony Allen, SG: Celtics fans would love to see the return of his lock-down D, but his offensive woes would only make things worse for this Boston team that occasionally forgets how to score.
Chauncey Billups, PG: Older and more beat up than years past, and Chris Paul still loves the veteran. He convinced management to pay Chauncey a $4 million extension last year—they only got 22 games out of him (and 20 the year prior).