The Boston Celtics are coming off of a 25-57 season, and while the NBA draft will be their biggest chance for long-term improvement, free agency has the potential to play an important role on their immediate future.
As B/R's Grant Rindner stated back in April, "Boston is not flush with cap space, but the Celtics are in position—with some clever maneuvering—to make a run at some of the second-tier free agents available in 2014."
Rindner listed guys such as Greg Monroe, Lance Stephenson and Gordon Hayward as potential targets (not to mention Paul Pierce), but with the offseason on the horizon, let's swap out "second-tier" with "under-the-radar" and see who might fit the bill in Boston.
None of this is to negate second-tier targets from occupying the Celtics' big board, but as we all know, depth and backup plans are necessary for any successful organization.
At 31 years old, Emeka Okafor is going to be a risk for whichever team lands his services. The big man is coming off of a missed season due to a neck injury, but we can't forget about what he did as a productive big man in years prior.
In 2012-13, Okafor started 77 games for the Washington Wizards while recording 9.7 points and 8.8 rebounds per night. His blocks had dropped to a single rejection per contest, but he's averaged 1.7 for his career, proving he can be an anchor on the block.
Some team will give Okafor a chance, but that pesky injury is what will make him a bargain. If the Celtics can score a big-time center either through the draft (Joel Embiid) or free agency (Monroe), a discounted Okafor would be a strong candidate to round out a depth chart that desperately needs true centers.
Jordan Hill is the kind of big who has both production and potential on his side. That said, his inconsistent role with the Los Angeles Lakers will force him to fall below the second-tier options mentioned above.
In 20.8 minutes per game, Hill scored 9.7 points and grabbed 7.4 rebounds. He shot a solid percentage (54.9), nearly blocked one shot (0.9) and had a PER of 19.39 to top it all off.
According to Mike Trudell of Lakers.com, Hill said during his exit interview with the Lakers that, "It's tough to say right now," when asked about a return to L.A. A move across the country could be just what this 26-year-old needs to finally reach his ceiling on a brand-new roster.
Throughout the 2013-14 season, the Celtics shot an abysmal 33.3 percent from behind the arc. That wouldn't be so bad if the team took the fewest threes in the league, but at 21.1 attempts per contest (18th), it's clear that a more efficient shooter is a must moving forward.
Alas, enter Jimmer Fredette. The 25-year-old has yet to make a true name for himself at the NBA level, but his numbers are impressive despite his paltry sample size.
Despite playing just 10.6 minutes per game this past season (before being released by the Sacramento Kings), the former BYU product nailed 49.3 percent of his shots from downtown before signing with the Chicago Bulls. It's important to note that he only launched 1.8 per game during that stretch, but his career average is over 40 percent at 2.5 attempts per night.
For Boston, the need is obvious: better shooting. For Fredette, the avenue toward improvement is a bit more ambiguous, but the thought here is that a change of scenery would do the kid some good.
The Sacramento Kings never gave this youngster a true shot (his time with the Chicago Bulls was also minimal), and while Boston has needs across the board, Fredette would be a good addition.
Speaking of three-point shooting, let's not skip over Anthony Morrow.
In 76 games this past season, Morrow, 28, nailed 45.1 percent of his shots from long distance. He took 2.6 per game and he scored 8.4 points per contest.
If you're thinking those numbers look like a fluke, think again. The 6'5" shooting guard has averaged 10.4 points per game for his career and shot 42.8 percent from the three-point line on an average of 3.4 attempts.
What Morrow has over Fredette, other than consistency, is defense. According to 82games.com, the six-year veteran held his opponents to a PER (per 48 minutes) of just 12.8 at 2-guard in 2013-14.
The Celtics are a team that ranked 13th in scoring defense in the regular season, but with Avery Bradley's impending free agency looming, having a guy like Morrow on the free-agent big board becomes more than just a good idea—it's an insurance policy.