Celtics Rumors: Latest Free Agent and Trade Updates on Kawhi Leonard and More

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJune 28, 2018

Boston Celtics' Marcus Smart (36) drives past Cleveland Cavaliers' George Hill (3) during the first half of Game 6 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals Friday, May 25, 2018, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Ron Schwane/Associated Press

The Boston Celtics aren't expected to undergo a roster overhaul this offseason, but they still need to bolster their squad in order to become the dominant franchise in the Eastern Conference. 

The team's young core of Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Terry Rozier challenged the Cleveland Cavaliers over seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals, and with Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward returning to the floor, the Celtics could be hard to stop. 

Brad Stevens' team isn't in the mix for LeBron James, but it has inquired about another superstar on the market who could put the Celtics in the driver's seat as the main challenger to the Golden State Warriors out of the East. 

Outside of the superstar market, the Celtics are attempting to secure the services of role players who could continue to improve their depth. 

        

Kawhi Leonard

Boston is among a handful of teams to have made trade offers to the San Antonio Spurs for the disgruntled Kawhi Leonard. 

According to Adrian Wojnarowski, Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst of ESPN, Boston, Cleveland, Philadelphia and the Los Angeles Clippers made offers to the Spurs in addition to the ongoing conversations with the Los Angeles Lakers

Eric Gay/Associated Press

The Celtics might be an outsider in the Leonard sweepstakes since the Lakers appear to be in pole position to acquire him if the package proposed to San Antonio appeases it enough. 

If Boston was to leapfrog the Lakers in discussions with the Spurs, it would presumably offer one or two of its young stars in a package with some of the team's coveted draft assets. 

Boston could possess as many as four first-round picks in the 2019 NBA draft depending on certain protections, and at least one of those would be seen as valuable to the Spurs. 

Until the talk around Leonard shifts away from the Lakers, the Celtics don't seem to have much of a chance at bringing in the two-time Defensive Player of the Year, but they do have the assets available if the Spurs want to listen more.

          

Marcus Smart

The Celtics might have a hard time keeping one of their most valuable pieces during the summer, as Marcus Smart is attracting interest from elsewhere. 

In addition to the Celtics, Dallas, Chicago, Phoenix and Indiana are contenders for Smart's signature, per Yahoo's Jordan Schultz: 

Boston can make a qualifying offer of close to $6.1 million to Smart, per ESPN's Jackie MacMullan, and they can match any offer made from another team. 

However, the price tag for Smart could be too much for the Celtics, as the 24-year-old gains interest from franchises with more money to spend.

Smart could end up on another roster for next season, or he could sign the qualifying offer from the Celtics and make an attempt at earning more money as an unrestricted free agent next summer.

The decision on Smart could come down to something as simple as playing time, as Irving and Hayward return to the rotation and take away some minutes for the valuable defender. 

If he can't get the minutes he wants in the crowded rotation, Smart might be wise to move on this summer when his stock is high, but the franchises mentioned in Schultz's report don't have as good a chance to win a championship as the Celtics. 

       

Aron Baynes 

While Smart's decision could be a difficult one, Aron Baynes looks like he won't have any issues returning to Boston. 

Baynes is expected to return to the Celtics for the 2018-19 campaign, per NBC Sports Boston's A. Sherrod Blakely

The 31-year-old from New Zealand turned into an integral part of the Celtics roster throughout last season as the injuries started to pile up.

Ron Schwane/Associated Press

Baynes, who is an unrestricted free agent, earned a career-high 18.3 minutes per game in his first season with the Celtics in which he averaged six points and 5.4 rebounds per contest. 

The center fills a need down low for the Celtics, who are going to need rim protectors to deal with Joel Embiid in Philadelphia and Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo in years to come. 

By no means is Baynes the most important player on Boston's roster, but few stars under contract with the Celtics boast the skill set of a true big man, which makes him a valuable part of the squad to keep around. 

         

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from Basketball Reference.

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