Sean Deveney of The Sporting News was on The Sports Hub this morning to talk about what the Celtics might be looking at between now and next summer. After reiterating the interest around the league in Brandon Bass, he said Danny Ainge is really focused on making a big splash in the Summer of 2015.
While the draft picks are key to Danny Ainge’s rebuilding process, so is freeing up cap space. Deveney said Ainge may be open to taking on a bad contact, as long as the money comes off the books before the summer of 2015, when big names like LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love are set to hit the free agent market.
“For them, it’s more about length than it is size. They don’t want anything that goes after 2015; they’re very focused on that 2015 free agent class. There should be some good players, and that’s when they’d have to re-up with Rondo should both sides choose to do that,” said Deveney. “That summer is when they expect to complete this turnaround and sign a big free agent, keep Rondo and with whoever they get in the draft this year, they should be in pretty good position to put those pieces together in the summer of 2015.”
Aldridge is an unrestricted free agent that summer, and should be a huge focus for the Celtics (or basically every NBA team, really). A core of Rondo (assuming he’s re-signed), Aldridge, and hopefully a great, young wing player acquired in this June’s draft would be a very, very fine start to the next era of Celtics title contention.
Love has a player option that year, which I would expect he’d decline, so he’d also be in the mix. Roy Hibbert also has a player option, but he’s making max money, so he might just take the money and march into free agency in 2016. Klay Thompson is a restricted free agent. I can’t imagine Golden State would let him go, but the Celtics could give it a shot. Same for Kyrie Irving in Cleveland. There’s no way they let him go.
Depending on your opinion of Marc Gasol, he’s unrestricted next year as well. I put him along with Paul Milsap in the next tier of free agents in 2015 that also includes Al Jefferson (player option), Tyson Chandler, DeAndre Jordan, Tony Parker, Omer Asik, Jeremy Lin, and Anderson Varejao are among the other names available.
There are no real impact players in the 2014 class unless LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony exercise their early termination options. Pau Gasol is available this year, but I’m not sure how “impact” he is anymore. Danny Granger is available if anyone wants to take a risk on an injury prone guy who could, if healthy, really help. Dirk Nowitzki is available this year, but there’s no way Dallas lets him go. And of course…. Paul Pierce is a free agent this year.
So unless the Celtics win the draft lottery and convince LeBron to come to Boston to play with Rondo & a young phenom, Ainge is smart to focus on 2015.