With free agency hours away, Boston will be looking to make some improvements on a roster that is unbalanced, and still lacking any true star talent. Fans who day-dream about Marc Gasol, Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard, or Draymond Green wearing green next season are in for a rude awakening. The list compiled here are guys that Celtics have a legit chance at getting ranked from top priority to lowest. Adding in the projected contracts of Terry Rozier and R.J Hunter, but not the non-guaranteed deals of Phil Pressey and Chris Babb the Celtics will have about $26,689,088 of cap space. They also have the $12.9 million trade exception from Rajon Rondo, and the $7 million from the Tayshaun Prince deal which could come in handy as we saw last year. So without further ado here is my free agency wish list for the Boston Celtics.
1. Tobias Harris
Last season: 17.1ppg, 6.3rpg, 1.8apg, 16.76 PER
Right now Harris should be our number one priority. He’s 22, can play either forward position, and has all-star potential. Last season his three-point percentage shot up to 36.4%, and has shown the ability to create for himself. Harris is a restricted free agent, but with the Magic picking Mario Hezonja in the draft, they will likely be hesitant to sign him to the max contract offer he could get from Boston. Harris can instantly come in and fill a need, and with his ability to play the stretch four he could play alongside James Young to provide a dynamic scoring attack.
2. Roy Hibbert Last season: 10.6ppg, 7.1rpg, 1.6bpg, 15.47 PER Hibbert has gotten a lot of criticism for his inconsistency and lackluster playoff performances. Indiana tried to bully him out of opting in to his deal, but he opted in, and the Pacers are hellbent on sending him packing. However, they understand that a 7 footer who is a good shot-blocker and solid post defender is worth more than a salary dump so the Celtics may have to part ways with some assets. Possibly a Gerald Wallace and rights to Marcus Thornton along with a couple of second round picks could get the Celtics the rim protector they need. The change of scenery, and playing for a new contract could give Hibbert new life, and the Celtics their center for the next 4-5 years.
ed. note: This was written before Hibbert opted in. I mistakenly left it in before posting it today – John
3. Robin Lopez
Last Season: 9.6ppg, 6.7rpg, 1.4bpg, 16.26 PER
Was very underrated playing for the Trailblazers, but he is an absolute defensive force. At this stage of his career he knows how to play to within himself, and is very efficient. He’ll give the Celtics a guy who can defend a teams best post scorer without the need to double team, and is a talented rim protector. Probably not your long-term option, but a respectable talent that can hide some of the defensive challenged players on the roster.
4. Kevin Love
Last Season: 16.4ppg, 9.7rpg, 2.2apg, 18.89 PER
I’m personally not the biggest fan of Love coming here, but I understand a guy with his talent would make this team favorites to be a top 5 seed in the conference. I think his lack of versatility defensively kind of limits the creativity a bit of Brad Stevens, and limits guys who can play the 3 and 4 to use that versatility. Now if Love was a good defender this wouldn’t be a problem, but he’s not, and without Rondo I’m not sure how much I like his fit anymore. However, he would provide a post-scoring presence, stretch the floor, run the pick and roll, and can throw a mean outlet pass. So if we get him I wouldn’t be too mad, but it also probably means we wouldn’t get Tobias Harris who is younger, more versatile, and walking into his prime.
5. Paul Pierce
Last Season: 11.9ppg, 2.0apg, 4.0rpg, 15.23 PER
Forget the numbers, and what he brings in terms of production on the basketball court. This is Paul Pierce. Unless you’ve been asleep the last sixteen years I don’t need to tell you what that means. If he could just throw on the green for one last season, mentor our young guys, and lead them in the playoffs it could do wonders in the development department. Pierce gave the youthful Wizards team last year a man that they could listen to because they know what type of success he’s had in this league. He wouldn’t demand many minutes at this stage of his career, so it wouldn’t affect lineups much. But a vintage playoff performance or two would be absolutely worth it.
6. Ed Davis
Last Season: 8.3ppg, 7.6rpg, 1.2bpg, 20.0 PER
This could be a steal for the Celtics in free agency. Davis was a very productive player for the Lakers who was active on the boards, protects the rim, and knows how to play within himself. He’s lengthy and athletic which makes him a valuable alley-oop target, and he’s versatile defender who can guard the pick and roll. He’ll be cheap, and though he’s a horrendous free throw shooter (56.6% career average) could be very effective teamed up with Tyler Zeller as a offense-defense tandem. These are the type of guys that Stevens usually molds into legit contributors.
7. Jae Crowder
Last Season: 7.7ppg, 1.1apg, 3.6rpg, 13.93 PER
Crowder is a versatile and fearless defender who brings attitude and embodies what it means to be a Boston Celtic. Entering only his 4th year in the league at 25 there’s still some untapped potential, and the Celtics have already made it known that they want to keep him. If he can improve his three-point shot, he becomes a player that you can play anywhere from the 2-5 (center may only be for two games a season), and he will be at the top of the Celtics wish list. The only other team rumored to want him so far were the Dallas Mavericks, but after selecting Justin Anderson in this year’s draft they might not be as inclined to get in a mini bidding war with the Celtics.
8. Al-Farouq Aminu
Last Season: 5.6ppg, 0.8apg, 4.6rpg, 14.45 PER
Aminu was the unsung hero for Dallas during their run in the postseason by doing a little bit of everything. Aminu is a versatile player who’s very active on the glass, and uses his length to bother shots. With his athleticism, Aminu is a nice pick and roll target, and he plays with a high motor. His willingness to throw his body and passion will win Celtics fans over instantly, but he should be looked at as a backup plan in the case we can’t sign re-sign Jae Crowder.
9. Kosta Koufos
Last Season: 5.2ppg, 5.3 rpg, 0.8bpg, 14.21 PER
Solid big who played behind Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. He can do a little bit of everything and knows how to play within himself. He’s a lot more defensive oriented, and playing with Stevens he’ll be put in a great position to succeed, and will probably have increased scoring numbers. His toughness will be much-needed in a soft front-court, but he’ll be another big who would have a hard time separating himself from Tyler Zeller.
10. Omeir Asik
Last Season: 7.3ppg, 9.8rpg, 0.7bpg, 15.49 PER
Defensive anchor who can rebound well. Won’t give you anything on the offensive end, and can isn’t athletic which could lead to a lot of space clogging. If the Celtics target Asik it’s most likely because all the other options are gone.
We’re about 10 hours from free agency. Buckle up.