Predicting Boston Celtics Next Moves Entering 2014 Free Agency
Drafting Marcus Smart at No. 6 overall was thought to perhaps make Avery Bradley expendable. At the very least, the plan appeared to be to let him walk if he received too high of an offer to match. However, early on in free agency, Danny Ainge up and gave Bradley four years and $32 million.
The Celtics also drafted James Young, who is listed as a shooting guard, but he has the height and hopefully the strength to play some small forward. Either way, though, this kid won't be ordering his first adult beverage for another 26 months or so.
Boston still has no center on the roster, beyond end-of-bench guys like Vitor Faverani and Joel Anthony and is still very limited with the ways they can score the basketball, especially late in games.
Hopefully, the message to take here is that they are far from done with free agency this summer, but money is quickly drying up.
Boston has about $55.7 million tied up in guaranteed contracts for nine players. If and when they eventually sign Smart and Young, that number will likely creep above $60 million for 11 guys.
According to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News, the Boston Celtics contacted Jordan Hill very early on in free agency.
This was a good sign for Boston, as Hill is one of the few promising young centers on the market. He is a bit undersized, but he makes up for it with superior athleticism and drive. Once given a full opportunity with the Los Angeles Lakers last season, he tore it up.
In April, Hill averaged 16.8 points and 10.1 rebounds, while blocking 1.8 shots and 53.5 percent from the field himself.
Pairing him with any of Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk or Brandon Bass would seem to make sense. Hill's rebounding prowess would help cover some of what Olynyk and Bass lack in that area, while his length and athleticism defensively would allow Sullinger to guard the opposition's lesser offensive option.
The mid-level exception would grant him about $1.8 million more than the $3.5 million he made last season. With Boston's cap space shrinking so quickly, this hyper-athletic, 27-year-old big would make for a wise addition.
If the Boston Celtics need inexpensive rim-protection in small doses, Greg Stiemsma could be their man.
After playing 18.3 minutes over 55 games (20 starts) last season with the New Orleans Pelicans, Stiemsma is a free agent. In 2011-12, he played 55 games for Boston, before taking a more lucrative contract offer from the Minnesota Timberwolves that summer. He was waived by both the Timberwolves and Pelicans.
Boston is sorely lacking an inside presence with height and shot-altering ability. Stiemsma provides that in a limited capacity. He is too much of a liability in other areas to have on the floor for big minutes, but in a spot-start or second big off the bench role, he can thrive.
If the Celtics are looking to continue a small-ball style and maintain positional versatility, Stiemsma is still a good guy to have around for six fouls and to hassle some of the NBA's larger frontcourts.
Stiemsma pulled in $2.7 million last season, a number he likely won't be seeing again, at least this summer. However, if the Celtics are feeling generous, their bi-annual exception of $2.08 million is available. Still, they might be able to acquire Stiemsma's services for the veteran's minimum of just under $1 million.
Funds are limited right now for Boston. Stiemsma is a cheap option for the short-term.
The Boston Celtics haven't added much outside shooting to their squad this summer, so C.J. Miles could provide some of that on the cheap.
The 27-year-old wing has had some trouble staying on the court over the past few years, but while playing, he has shown a reliable outside stroke lately.
In two years with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miles hit on 38.8 percent of his 539 three-point attempts. He is a sturdy defender as well.
Unfortunately, despite being 27, Miles has played nine NBA seasons, meaning he likely is not to improve. This wouldn't be a signing for Boston's future, but more of a stop-gap.
Hypothetically, James Young could spend much of this next season getting his feet wet with the Maine Red Claws in the NBA's D-League. During that period, Miles would provide Boston with a legitimate "three-and-D" guy, capable of playing both wing positions.
Miles pulled in $2.2 million last season, which is right around where Boston's bi-annual exception is. His veteran's minimum after nine years of service would be around $1.3 million. Either of those deals are solid short-term options.
After submitting an impressive season for the New Orleans Pelicans, Anthony Morrow opted out of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent. He was set to make just $1.1 million with the veteran's minimum.
Now, he is being pursued by elite teams, according to ESPN.com's Marc Stein, who could use his outside shooting ability.
Last season Morrow hit on 88-of-195 three-pointers, while averaging 8.4 points in 18.3 minutes per game. With those teams like the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder, he may be stuck in that similar role and with a similar contract.
If the Boston Celtics were willing, they could seduce Morrow with a playing-time bump as well as what remains of their salary cap or the full mid-level exception. That would certainly be a nice raise for him, but he would likely be coming to a rebuild.
It would all depend on what Morrow was looking for. He hasn't made a ton of money playing for five teams in six years, so a large offer could convince him to go elsewhere from a title contender.
Still, Morrow isn't a likely choice for Boston. He isn't quite big enough to seriously play small forward, and Avery Bradley coming back fills up their guard rotation to the brim.
A Sizable Trade Will Happen
It is still hard to believe that any of this offseason is sitting well with Rajon Rondo, Danny Ainge or Wyc Grousbeck. If Brad Stevens had feelings or emotions, this likely wouldn't please him either.
After the wild rumors and speculation that have been taking place for nearly a full year, not much has changed. Boston drafted two young guards, neither of which move the needle a ton, and re-signed Avery Bradley for the absolute ceiling of what he's worth.
Something else has to be brewing. If not, then Ainge may make a move out of desperation. That doesn't seem to be in his makeup, but this is a fairly rare situation. There are bigger players out there that are available, but Boston is virtually out of that kind of money.
They will have to make a trade, and the likely return is Gordon Hayward right now. The Utah Jazz are still a confusing team to figure out and Hayward's free agency is flying under the radar of Carmelo Anthony and the Miami Heat trio, as well as whatever is going on with Kevin Love.
Boston shouldn't wait too long before making their loud push. Right now, the bigger and better teams are preoccupied. If it takes Jeff Green and a pick, do it. Hayward may not be that much better than Green overall, but the team needs some shaking up.
If not Hayward, then start shooting calls off to the Detroit Pistons about Greg Monroe. Once these big-name guys set themselves up for next year, the next tier will start flying off the shelves.
The Celtics almost have to back up all the talk of fireworks and endless rumors with some move of substance.
All salary cap issues were via Basketball Insiders, unless otherwise stated.
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