For all the talk of players the Boston Celtics could go out and get this summer, who they have in-house has been somewhat swept under the rug.
Of course, this isn’t an outrageously bad thing. The team went 25-57 on those players’ watch, and Boston can’t be blamed if they aren’t jumping at the chance to re-sign.
However, even if the Celtics bring in some of those bigger names, they’ll need to start filling out their roster with some cheaper role players. Getting those guys who already have the Boston experience may be easier.
The Celtics have eight players who were under contract with them at the close of 2013-14 and could potentially be gone before autumn.
Kris Humphries, Unrestricted Free Agent
In his first season with the Boston Celtics, Kris Humphries pulled in a healthy $12 million.
While his play was nowhere close to living up to that salary, Humphries was pretty effective and valuable to Boston. He averaged 8.4 points and 5.9 rebounds in 19.9 minutes per game.
Humphries put some good distance between himself and his previous off-court marriage and divorce issues, proving he still has game and a top-of-the-line work ethic. The supposed bad blood between he and Rajon Rondo after their scuffle the season prior was put behind them.
His most valuable trait to Brad Stevens and the Celtics was his ability to maintain readiness no matter what his playing-time situation was.
He went from getting regular DNPs to starting, sometimes on a game-to-game basis. Humphries was an amiable soldier who worked hard and played well.
He won’t be a starter on many contending teams, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt for Boston to consider him as a first big man off the bench. Unfortunately, there are going to be a lot of hedges on bringing him back.
For one, the Celtics still have three power forwards; Brandon Bass, Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk, under contract. However, if those players head out in a trade or two, and the price is right, Humphries looks good in green.
Keith Bogans, Non-guaranteed Contract
There won’t be a more obvious and easy decision this summer than to let Keith Bogans walk.
He raked in $5.29 million from Boston last season and brought next to nothing to the table. Bogans played in just six games for the Celtics, before quietly agreeing with Danny Ainge that it would be best for both parties if he stayed away from Boston.
Bogans had no spot in the rotation before whatever happened behind closed doors. The Celtics will let him walk in free agency.
Joel Anthony, Player Option
The Celtics had very limited experience with Joel Anthony, at least as a teammate. The veteran big man came over in a late-season trade and was stuck in a crowded frontcourt.
Boston has little use for Anthony, given returning players like Olynyk, Sullinger and Bass. Still, the chances are good he is back in green next season. Anthony won’t get $3.8 million on the open market, which is his player option for 2014-15.
Jerryd Bayless, Unrestricted Free Agent
Another somewhat feel-good story from his time with the Boston Celtics is Jerryd Bayless.
Bayless was having a grossly ineffective year with the Memphis Grizzlies before being dealt to Boston. With the Celtics, he upped that efficiency with a slightly expanded role as a third guard and spot starter. Bayless shot 41.8 percent, up from 37.7 in Memphis, in 41 games with Boston. He averaged 10.1 points and 3.1 assists in 25.3 minutes per game.
Bayless actually fit in quite nicely to the role Jordan Crawford would have taken with Rondo’s return. He’ll only be 26 next season, but this will be his seventh NBA season.
Bayless made $3.14 million last season and shouldn’t stand to earn a much different salary on his new contract.
The bottom line is that with potentially Avery Bradley and Rondo starting in the backcourt, the Celtics can’t afford to have a riskily inefficient guard behind them. Boston has to fill that spot with someone else, possibly through the draft, and let Bayless find a home elsewhere.
Avery Bradley, Restricted Free Agent
At just $2.51 million this past season, any amount of Avery Bradley was a steal. Unfortunately, that amount was again less than desired and it was the final year of that bargain contract.
Bradley is a free agent and on the fringe of having proved himself as a legitimate starting shooting guard. The offensive jump he took last season was a pleasant surprise and showed that he isn’t resting on his laurels of being an elite defender and nothing else. He has worked to improve his shooting and averaged 14.9 points on 43.8/39.5/80.4 percent shooting.
If the Celtics can replace Bayless with a better shooter off the bench, there is little reason not to try to bring Bradley back. The better that player is, the more opportunity there is to mix and match with Rondo.
The devil’s advocate would have to bring up both price and health concerns. Bradley missed 22 games last season, 32 the year before and 18 in 2011-12. That is well over a quarter of his career spent in a suit on the sidelines.
The monetary factor is going to be a necessary evil. Luckily, the league hasn’t shown much of a trend of paying for individual defense. Still, this is going to be Bradley’s first real chance at negotiating for a contract, and he won’t sign without pause, which he proved by rejecting that extension early in 2013-14.
As we said, the league isn’t paying top dollar for Bradley’s style and he isn’t held in incredibly high regard by the rest of the NBA. Boston should be able to get him back at the price they want.
When it comes down to it, he and Rondo haven’t shared the court enough yet. Giving them the chance to try to develop into something is worth the price tag on Bradley.
Phil Pressey, Non-guaranteed Contract
While Phil Pressey didn’t produce statistically-pleasant numbers by year’s end, he had his moments running the Celtics offense.
At $816,000 for next season, he isn’t a bad guy to bring back at backup point guard. With Rondo on the roster and 100 percent back from the ACL injury, that spot isn’t going to be a high priority for Boston.
Yes, when building a real championship contender, backup point guard is a spot you can’t ignore. See the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat for proof there. However, the Celtics have much larger fish to fry this offseason. Simply tossing Pressey another year at under $1 million is a safe enough option.
His shooting clips were pretty atrocious, but teams still weren’t able to totally stop his offensive contributions. Through eight games in April, Pressey averaged 5.8 points and 7.3 assists.
Defensively, he will always be a liability due to his height, but in those same eight games he racked up 12 steals.
Pressey is by no means a long-term solution, but with Boston’s eyes and dollars needed elsewhere, he should return for a second season in green.
Christapher Johnson, Non-guaranteed Contract
Boston’s lack of firepower on the wing last season made it possible for Chistapher Johnson to emerge as a legit option at small forward.
He had a lot of moments late in the season, showcasing really strong hustle and effort. Unfortunately, the touch and finesse traits didn’t follow and he was stuck playing a mostly perimeter offensive game and shooting 39.7 percent overall.
Defensively, Johnson’s long arms, athleticism and hustle were valuable to the Celtics, especially after Gerald Wallace went down.
Ultimately, the decision about whether or not to re-up Johnson’s contract for $915,000 next season will lie in what direction Boston goes in this summer.
If the Celtics hold serve on the rebuild and don’t blow it out with acquisitions, Johnson makes sense as a second or third wing to bring back off the bench. However, if they are expediting the rebuild and bringing in some replacement wings, Johnson is extraneous and should be allowed to sign elsewhere.
Chris Babb, Non-guaranteed Contract
After spending time with the Celtics through training camp and preseason last year, Chris Babb was brought back in March to finish out the year in green.
Ultimately, he played 14 games for Boston without much to show for it.
Babb is a long shooting guard, which isn’t a bad thing to have around with a shorter starting backcourt in Rondo and Bradley, and at $816,000 next year, he won’t break the bank.
Much like Johnson, the decision will be tested by Boston’s direction. There is a strong chance they use that No. 17 pick on a shooting guard, which would only push Babb down the depth chart.
If injuries happen during the year, Babb or his equivalent will be available for 10-day contracts and the like. There is little reason to sacrifice close to $1 million right off the bat.
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