Celtics' Early 2022 Free-Agent Targets

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistApril 21, 2022

Celtics' Early 2022 Free-Agent Targets

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    Luis M. Alvarez/Associated Press

    The Boston Celtics could sleep through the 2022 NBA offseason if they want.

    Consider that one of the perks of being the Association's most efficient team for the final four months of the campaign.

    It's also a reflection of the fact that this front office didn't bother waiting to lock up what could have been the club's top two free agents by ironing out extensions with Marcus Smart and Robert Williams III before the season started.

    The Shamrocks will technically send five players into free agency, but even basketball diehards may not know the names. Rookie Sam Hauser saw the most action of the quintet while sprinkling just 158 minutes over 26 outings.

    That's a long-winded way of saying don't expect much from the Celtics this season. If they opt for some bargain hunting, though, the following three players are worth a look.

Kyle Anderson

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    Brandon Dill/Associated Press

    It's possible the Memphis Grizzlies decide this was such a good season that they can't risk changing the formula and simply run it back in 2022-23.

    There's also a chanceperhaps a decent onethey'll accept that financial sacrifices are necessary, with major paydays coming down the pike for Ja Morant and Desmond Bane.

    If they can't find the funds to keep Kyle Anderson, he could wind up on the radar of every contender, the Celtics included.

    The 28-year-old's skill set is quietly loaded. Other than shooting threes at a high volume or sprinting at top speeds, he pretty much does it all. He can defend anywhere along the frontcourt, create offense in a pinch, splash spot-up threes (35.1 percent since the start of last season) and even soak up a smattering of minutes as a small-ball center.

    This is also Anderson's fifth playoff trip in eight NBA seasons, so his experience and basketball IQ should grease the gears for a smooth transition.

Sam Hauser

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    The Celtics have almost everything they could want on the roster. But if they get greedy—as every championship contender should—they could stand to find a little more shooting.

    Following that train of thought, they shouldn't be eager to give up the spacers they have. Sam Hauser, a 6'8" swingman, certainly seems to wear that label after splashing 43.2 percent of his long-range looks.

    Cheap shooters aren't easy to find, but Boston might have one here. The Celtics have a $1.6 million team option on the 24-year-old for next season, per Spotrac, and that's probably worth it to see if he can become a rotation regular.

Ricky Rubio

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    Derick Hingle/Associated Press

    Credit the Celtics for correcting some of their playmaking problems in-house.

    Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown all posted personal bests in assists per game. From Jan. 23—when Smart returned from a six-game absence—through the end of the season, the squad skyrocketed to sixth in assist percentage, per NBA.com. For context, the Celtics ranked 21st in the category before that.

    Still, it's no surprise the Celtics played their best when they got the ball moving, so a push for an extra ball-mover such as Ricky Rubio could make a lot of sense.

    The 31-year-old tore his ACL in December, so it's not entirely clear when he'll be ready to go, but if that keeps his pay rate in check (mid-level exception or cheaper), the Celtics should give him a long look.