Free Agents Who Could Expedite Boston Celtics Rebuild
By first allowing Doc Rivers out of his generous $21 million contract, then trading Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the division rival Brooklyn Nets, the Boston Celtics have officially entered a harsh rebuild that some might say is long overdue.
Armed with nine unprotected first-round draft picks over the next five years and several young assets still on their rookie contracts, Boston has decided to forgo playoff basketball in the short term for possible championship contention a few years down the line.
Thus, the Celtics have effectively removed their name from the free-agency hunt. Boston won't be interested in adding long-term money to its books, especially when it comes to paying big-name, big-money players who've never even made an All-Star team, like Josh Smith, Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap.
Due to either their inexpensive cost or obvious upside, here are five players who could help Boston rebuild more quickly than anyone thought possible. They're ranked in no particular order.
Three-point shooting is important today, and if the league's trajectory continues on the same path, it will be vital two or three years from now. Anthony Morrow is a career 42.4 percent shooter from behind the arc, with good size, long arms and a quick release.
Coming off a season in which he rarely played after getting traded from the Atlanta Hawks to the Dallas Mavericks, Morrow still possesses an aesthetically beautiful jump shot that's true and needs to be accounted for, allowing space for his team's half-court offense.
Morrow will be cheap and holds a skill set that should carry over toward brighter days, when the threes he tees up might mean something in games where the stakes are raised.
Imagine: a 22-year-old, 6'9" small forward who grabbed 7.7 rebounds per game last season and has Kevin Durant's wingspan. This is Al-Farouq Aminu, a former lottery pick who enters free agency after the New Orleans Pelicans chose not to pick up his team option.
Aminu is loaded with significant flaws, most pertaining to his inability to shoot. But with a contract that's low risk, high reward, the Celtics could snatch an extremely young athlete who possesses the physical tools to help them out at some point down the line.
Development on a team like the Boston Celtics is much different than development on the Los Angeles Clippers or New Orleans Pelicans.
Boston hasn't had a consistent backup point guard since...Sam Cassell? This signing could solve those problems for the foreseeable future.
After being traded by the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Portland Trail Blazers in a move that was mostly done to get Reggie Jackson on the floor as much as possible, Eric Maynor averaged 11.8 points and 6.9 assists per 36 minutes in his final 27 games last season.
He also made 38 percent of his threes, which is huge and increases his value should he be able to stretch that consistency for an entire season. Similar to every other player on this list, Maynor would come at a very low price tag, as his demand around the league is low right now. But this is someone who gave a very good Oklahoma City Thunder team great minutes in the 2011 playoffs.
This season feels like a make-or-break situation for him to prove his worth post-ACL surgery. You love having inexpensive guys like that on your team.
Two seasons ago DeJuan Blair led the NBA in offensive rebounding rate, grabbing 14.9 percent of all his team's missed shots whenever on the floor. (Last season the Celtics logged a league-worst offensive rebound rate of 20.1 percent.)
While his offensive rebounding numbers have dipped a bit over the past couple years due to a decrease in playing time and San Antonio's fundamental style (retreat, retreat, retreat), Blair has the tools to impact the game much like Boston's own Jared Sullinger.
Having at least one of them on the floor at all times, making tireless lunges for loose balls, would give opposing teams an equal dosage of nightmare and headache.
Blair is only 24 years old and has spent his entire career playing with Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili underneath Gregg Popovich. So basically, he started his career in the best situation possible. He knows how to play and wouldn't cost much to show what he can do.
Wesley Johnson has been correctly labeled as a bust ever since the Minnesota Timberwolves drafted him fourth overall in 2010 over DeMarcus Cousins, Greg Monroe, Gordon Hayward and Paul George.
It isn't unfair to say he's been horrible. Johnson is 25 years old, already on his second team and has yet to average at least 10 points per game for an entire season. He shot under 40 percent from the floor his first two years in the league and after "picking it up" last season with an expanded role in Phoenix, his career average now sits at a gruesome 40 percent, exactly.
So, why would the Celtics take a flier on him? He'd be dirt cheap, with absolutely zero expectations in a season where almost nothing would be asked of him except to back up Jeff Green for 20 minutes a night. If he fails, all the better. Boston would be that much closer to seeing success in the 2014 NBA draft.
If he succeeds and is on a multi-year, non-guaranteed deal, Boston has another asset to peddle when the timing is right. Buy low, sell higher than low.