The Boston Celtics are trying to rebuild into a playoff contender once again, and with the free-agency period now underway, there are already a few rumors surrounding the team.
It was a rough first season for Brad Stevens, as the Celtics went just 25-57. However, it looks like the team is heading in the right direction, as the Celtics drafted Marcus Smart and James Young to help add some talent in the backcourt. There's still a lot of work, however, and the Celtics may be looking to add more talent via free agency.
Having said that, here are some of the most recent rumors surrounding the Celtics at the start of free agency.
Note: All contract information provided by Spotrac
Danny Ainge Wants Avery Bradley Back
In his fourth season in the NBA, former Texas Longhorns guard Avery Bradley finally showed some serious potential. However, now that he's a restricted free agent, there's a chance that the Celtics could lose the 23-year-old. Danny Ainge wants to make sure he stays in Boston.
“I think Avery could be a very key player in us winning the championship,” Ainge told Scott Souza from the MetroWest Daily News. “He does things that other players can’t do. His shooting continues to improve. We have all see in the past his terrific defensive abilities. I think he’s a big part of us.”
Bradley currently has a qualifying offer of just over $3.5 million, but the Celtics will have the option to match any contract offered to him. According to Marc J. Spears from Yahoo! Sports, one team the Celtics may have to contend with is the Philadelphia 76ers, who are also apparently interested in him.
In 60 games played this past season, Bradley looked solid. He averaged 14.9 points and 3.8 rebounds per game and shoot 43.8 percent from the floor. Along with being a solid defender, Bradley is versatile enough to play either guard position, which will help take some pressure off of players like Rajon Rondo and Smart.
Of course, Bradley will need to stay healthy. If he can do that, he has the potential to be a key piece in the long run for the Celtics.
Brad Stevens Trying to Reunite With Gordon Hayward?
Stevens was an incredibly popular college basketball coach before leaving to go to Boston. During his time with the Butler Bulldogs, he led them to two national championship games, with Gordon Hayward leading the way during their first magical run. Now that Hayward is a restricted free agent, Stevens may be trying to reunite with his former player.
According to Baxter Holmes from the Boston Globe, both Ainge and Stevens have contacted Hayward, who has a qualifying offer of just under $4.7 million. Holmes also noted that both sides have mutual interest so that the two former Butler Bulldogs can be reunited.
Hayward was forced to be the go-to scorer for the Utah Jazz this past season, and his shooting numbers suffered because of it. He averaged 16.2 points, 5.2 assists and 5.1 rebounds per game, but he shot just 41.3 percent from the floor and 30.4 percent from behind the arc.
If the Celtics were able to acquire Hayward, he'd be able to move to a more comfortable role as the second or third scoring option in the offense. However, the Celtics may not be able to bring in the 24-year-old, as CSN's A. Sherrod Blakely tweeted that the Jazz plan on matching any offer.
The move would be an interesting one, and while Stevens may want to coach Hayward again, the Jazz simply seem determined to keep him in Utah.
Celtics Looking At Another Point Guard
Even with Rondo and Smart already on the roster, the Celtics are apparently looking at another point guard. Judging from who they're looking at, Rondo's future in Boston appears to be up in the air.
Alex Kennedy from Basketball Insiders tweeted that the first team to reach out to restricted free agent and Sacramento Kings point guard Isaiah Thomas was surprisingly the Celtics.
While he may only be 5'9'', Thomas has proven to be one of the more productive scoring point guards in the NBA. This past season, he averaged 20.3 points and 6.3 assists per game while shooting a solid 45.3 percent. He would be a great addition for any team. However, the Celtics already have a crowded backcourt, and that could mean Rondo will be the odd man out.
|Isaiah Thomas vs. Rajon Rondo 2013-14 Stats|
As Brian Windhorst from ESPN pointed out, the Kings were actually interested in working on a trade for Rondo, which could be even more likely if Thomas joins the Celtics.
Kennedy also pointed out the possibility of a Rondo trade.
Rondo is set to be a free agent after the 2014-15 season, and he's constantly been in the middle of trade rumors during his time in Boston. If he's not able to land a long-term extension with the team, then it's likely that Rondo will be heading out after this season.
If that's the case, then the Celtics would be smart to add Thomas. While he's been productive in Sacramento, he won't be asking for nearly as much as Rondo, and that would help the Celtics set up their backcourt before losing their best player.