This isn’t going to be one of those articles that will wind up with the Boston Celtics landing Tyson Chandler, Nene and David West to sure up the middle of their rotation. No, it’s an article that will look at the players the Celtics’ have a realistic chance of signing during free agency, when and if the lockout ever ends.
First things first—the Boston Celtics are going to be over the salary cap during the 2011-12 season. The team’s roster currently consists of seven players costing the team $72 million-plus, which doesn’t include JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore (so nine players).
Last year’s NBA cap was $58 million, which means that the Celtics will only have their “exceptions” to use on players this year, assuming of course the cap doesn’t jump $25 million. It’ll be going down in all likelihood.
The Celtics do have the luxury of a $2.4 million trade exception, acquired in the deal that sent Marquis Daniels to Sacramento, so that’s a bit of bonus for the team. They’ll be able to use that on a better than average player. They’ll also have their mid-level exception (approximately $6 million) and the bi-annual exception (approximately $1.6 million). Finally, the old rules allow a team to go over the cap to sign players to veteran minimums.
Keeping all this in mind, here is a list of players the Celtics should target whenever the lockout ends and business as usual resumes.
Also, the following players below I deemed to be worth more than just a MLE contract, meaning they are capable of getting long-term deals.
Let’s start things off with a bang! Joel Przybilla may not be the rebounder and shot-blocker he once was, but depending on how his in-season knee surgery went, he may still be a useful player off of the bench.
The Celtics would most likely pass of Przybilla, but he’s still one of the better per-minute rebounders in the game. He also wouldn’t cost much at all.
There were some rumors of Anthony Parker heading to Boston during last year’s trade deadline, but nothing came of it. Parker played alongside LeBron, so a chance to win in Boston would push his game back to a high-level, despite seeing reduced minutes.
Parker passes very well for a wing player and he can also shoot a high-percentage shot from the outside (career 41 percent from three-point land), and these are traits the Celtics would certainly like.
Parker is still a useful player, but at 36 he’d have to settle for a small contract, precisely what the Celtics can offer him.
T-Mac had a passable campaign last year in Detroit, proving he can still be a serviceable bench player in the NBA. If the Celtics went after him, it’d be in the same vein as what the team did with Shaq last season.
But like Shaq, and possibly Joel Przybilla, McGrady is one false step away from a career ending injury, so while the prospect of being on the Celtics is intriguing, he’d be a Plan C or D for the Green.
Josh “McBob” showed flashes of brilliance last season, but ultimately lost his starting job to Tyler Hansborough.
Still, McRoberts can play the NBA game. You’ll find mixed opinions about his defensive abilities, but statistically he held his own (5.3 RPG, 0.8 BPG, 22.2 MPG).
McRoberts is still young at 24, so he can improve in all areas of his game, and the Celtics could definitely find minutes for him if the team doesn’t resign Glen Davis. He’s a more exciting version of what Brian Scalabrine used to be.
Speaking of potential replacements for Big Baby, Craig Smith is about as good as they come (for being a Big Baby replacement that is).
He has always flown under the radar in the NBA, but this is most likely because he has only played in Minnesota and for the Clippers. Being Blake Griffin’s backup last year didn’t help either, but Smith can play.
He shoots a very high-percentage shot, which is impressive considering he’s a bit of an under-sized power forward. The consequence is that Smith is by no means a shot-blocker, an area Boston did not fare well in last season.
Smith could carve out a role on the Celtics off of the bench. He’d probably put up very similar numbers to those in LA (12.2 MPG, 5.4 PPG, 2.4 RPB), but can play with authority even in limited minutes.
C’mon who wouldn’t want Leon back?
I’ve never been a huge Jeffries fan, but he would make for an intriguing role player in Boston. He’s one of the few guys in the league that can literally play four positions, so his versatility shouldn’t be overlooked.
Jeffries is also a strong defender, his best asset, so the Celtics are always looking to maintain that part of their game. He’s never made an impact in the NBA, but he can do a little bit of everything which will help the team-oriented Celtics.
It was only a few years ago Josh Howard was a beast in the NBA. Unfortunately, ACL tears have a way of ruining careers.
Howard appeared in only 18 games last season and was shut down in early April, but he’s still a guy that can contribute. Just how healthy will he be?
Howard lacked his trademark explosiveness last season, so he’ll have to relearn certain fundamentals to be useful again, but if some offseason of rest proves useful, Howard is definitely worth a flier.
Is everyone on this list injured? Francisco Elson is another player that could come cheaply to the Celtics.
Seven-footers can always find a home in the NBA, so again, if he’s healthy there is a role for him as the twelfth man on the Boston roster.
Elson just isn’t very good though, so he’d be a replacement for another player the Celtics lost out on.
There isn’t anything to like about Reggie Evans’ game, unless you consider his freakish rebounding abilities to be a plus. Of course they are.
Evans is as good as anyone at pulling down boards, and the Celtics need a tough guy on the inside, so Evans could be someone to keep an eye on. Unlike most of the other forwards in this list, Evans would need some extra minutes on the floor, so him, KG and Jeff Green might create some logjam issues.
Wherever Evans winds up that team will be instantly upgraded in rebounding, so the Celtics should give him some strong consideration.