The Boston Celtics were reportedly "showing strong interest" in veteran free agent Paul Millsap, according to Jared Weiss of The Athletic, while Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe reported: "The Celtics are currently at the top of Paul Millsap's list as he considers his options. He is expected to make his final decision [Saturday]."
Well, he did make his final choice. It just wasn't Boston.
Millsap, 35, averaged 11.6 points and 5.7 rebounds per game last season for the Nuggets, shooting 48.2 percent from the field and 43.5 percent from three. While he attempted only 2.4 threes per game, his evolution as an improved perimeter shooter (34.3 percent from deep for his career) made him an appealing option for teams looking to add a stretch-4.
That skill set would have made sense for Boston, giving it some size to pair with the Big Three of Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker and Jaylen Brown. While losing Gordon Hayward in free agency—reportedly to the Charlotte Hornets, a pretty big shocker—hurt, Millsap could have replaced some of his production.
Boston still needs to upgrade at center, with Daniel Theis the team's top option at the position. Theis played well in the postseason, but elite centers such as Joel Embiid and Bam Adebayo will continue to be tough matchups.
And the Celtics still return the core of the team that took them to the Eastern Conference Finals in the bubble.
All is not lost for Boston, even if its most notable additions this offseason have come through the draft (Aaron Nesmith, Payton Pritchard). It has cap space to play with and could get in the running for Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol or look to bring back Aron Baynes. Danny Ainge could also swing a trade.
Still, watching Hayward walk without getting anything in return and seeing Millsap return to Denver made Saturday tough for Boston. A number of teams in the East have improved, so it's fair to argue the Celtics have taken a small step back, at least to this point.