How the Boston Celtics can win free agency

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How the Boston Celtics can win free agency

Post by bobheckler on Sun Jun 25, 2017 11:28 am

How the Boston Celtics can win free agency

Originally posted on  |  By Tim Capurso  |  Last updated 6/24/17

The Boston Celtics opted not to make any big splash moves at the draft. Teams seemed to demand too much of Ainge and he never saw a trade that suited the Celtics. Now, he and the rest of the C’s front office will set their sights on free agency. Here’s how the Celtics can make the most out of their free agency experience this offseason.

Don’t offer max money to a potentially risky star

We all saw the rumors about how Blake Griffin was enamored with the Celtics’ (and their fans’) treatment of Paul Pierce. If you didn’t see it, Griffin was reportedly impressed with the tribute video the Celtics made Pierce and the fans’ ovation for him after he made his last 3 at the Garden.

Blake Griffin is a great player. I actually like Blake Griffin. I do not think Blake Griffin would be a good fit for the Celtics. First, the injuries. He’s only played 82 games in a season once and two years ago, he only played in 35 games. I do not like the sound of the Celtics throwing max dollars at an injury-prone player.

Second, the fit. I do not think Griffin fits with the Celtics. Yes, he can score. He can pass. He is a very good rebounder and would help the Celtics very much in that department. However, he is a power forward. So is Al Horford. Horford voiced his displeasure about playing the center position, as it is not his natural position. How would this work?

The answer: It would not. While Griffin and Horford would be excellent together offensively, they can both pass, shoot and score well, the Celtics would be weak defensively. While Horford is a capable defender, Griffin does not offer much in the way of defense. He has good hands but has never been a shot-blocker. Offense wins games, defense wins championships.

ESPN reports that the NBA salary cap is down $2 million. That being said, the Celtics need to be extra careful with their money. My point is, if you are not getting a reliable, two-way player who has been relatively healthy, I think the Celtics should stay away.

It’s not just Griffin though. Serge Ibaka could be a good fit for the Celtics. However, he is a natural power forward, so problems would again emerge with he and Horford. Also, Ibaka has become less of a paint presence over the years and more of a Horford-type player. The Celtics do not need two Horfords.

I felt that Nerlens Noel could be a fit for the Celtics if he could behave. However, with the salary cap the way it is, I do not think the Celtics can risk the big money that Noel will desire. While he would be great with Horford, there’s no telling how engaged he would be on a nightly basis. We just don’t know. What we do know is it’s likely best for the Celtics to stay away from any potential risks when they prepare to hand out max money.

Upgrade the frontcourt with the right players

This brings me to my next point. The Celtics must, must, must find frontcourt help. They were often dominated on the boards  However, these players must be a) cheap b) relatively young c) strong defensively and capable rebounders. These types of frontcourt players can help the C’s get to the next level.

I advocated for Dewayne Dedmon- and I still do. He and Horford would be great together. He showed signs of being a capable defensive center and he is only 27 years old. Because of the limited minutes he’s played per game in his career, he would likely be cheaper for the Celtics. He also fits the three criteria I listed. While he’s not the answer, I think he could be part of the solution for the Celtics.

There are many more cheap power forwards than centers on the free agent market. The two that would fit best with the Celtics are Alan Williams, former Phoenix Sun, and JaMychal Green, former Memphis Grizzly. Via Fansided, the Grizzlies gave Green a qualifying offer of 2.8 million but have too many others on the roster to sign. If the Celtics could sign him to a contract of $5-6 million per year, it would be ideal. That’s half of what they paid Amir Johnson for the same role.

Alan Williams might be my favorite free agent role player. Via Fansided, Williams is a hustler who averaged 4 double-doubles in only 8.5 MPG and was an excellent teammate. That sounds like the perfect Celtic to me. If they can get him without paying too much, he fits the three criteria as well.

The key for the Celtics is paying for the role. If Williams will play 15-16 minutes a night for the Celtics, then pay him like that. The Celtics do not want to be like the Lakers and pay a Mozgov-like contract to a player who will barely play. If the Celtics do this smartly, they will have great depth, something they lacked in the frontcourt last season.

Sign Gordon Hayward

Seeing all the trade rumors makes me want the Celtics to make a big splash. It almost feels like the offseason will be a bust if the Celtics do not get a star.

Regardless of the “feeling” of the offseason, the Celtics should sign Hayward. He would be a dream playing with Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford. All can shoot, pass and finish at the rim. Hayward and Horford are capable defenders with good length. Thomas has active hands but is limited on defense.

However, a lineup with Bradley, Hayward, Horford and a defensive-minded center would likely be enough to hide any shortcomings from Thomas defensively.

Offensively, Brad Stevens would be a mad scientist with Gordon Hayward in the Celtics lineup. Imagine the ball movement and sharing that could occur with the Celtics offense if they had Hayward. I can see him cutting to the basket and being effective as a catch-and-shoot guy with the Celtics, to say the least.

One thing is for sure. There would be no more blitzing Isaiah Thomas by defenses, doubling and tripling him. None of that would be possible with a Gordon Hayward in the lineup. The potential is scary. The Celtics need to make it a reality.

MY NOTE:  Griffin's injury in 2016, the season he only played 35 games, was due to him punching a trainer.  If you want to point to that as a character flaw, fine, but I doubt that will be a recurring injury.  So, that season's poor availability is a one-off event.  The point about Griffin being a one-position player, PF, and that is the position that Al Horford wants to play (and is best at too) is another issue and I think that point makes some sense.


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