Forsberg: Two paths for Celtics in finding their Jrue Holiday

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NBC Sports Boston 21 July, 2021 - 10:46am 5 views

When is the NBA Draft 2021?

The 2021 NBA Draft is set for Thursday, July 29 at 8:00 p.m. ET at the Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets. NBA CA2021 NBA Draft: Key prospects to know in the mid- to late-lottery range

Welcome to a new job, Brad Stevens. Now negotiate how much Robert Williams III is potentially worth.

That’s at least one of Stevens’ many duties in the coming weeks and months as he shapes the Celtics’ roster to a contender. It’s all about shaping the C’s to success around Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.

Williams, who was drafted in 2018, can sign an extension starting this offseason. That’s another challenge for Stevens. Williams holds seemingly all the potential in the world as Boston’s center of the future, but his injury-prone career muddies up how much he can make an impact.

Of course, Williams isn’t the only player who’s looking for an extension. Marcus Smart is in a similar spot, entering the final year on his contract and searching for some long-term stability with the only franchise he’s ever known.

Both players hold intriguing value, both on-court and in trade talks. Smart’s an expiring contract while also being a valuable role player; that makes him a target from potentially interested executives.

Here’s a look at Smart and Williams, along with how much they could be worth.

2021-22 salary: $14.3 million. Final year of a four-year, $52 million contract. Averaged a career-best 13.1 points and 5.7 assists per game last season.

One of the fortunate parts of Smart’s future in Boston comes from Stevens’ promotion. Stevens is a big Smart advocate and sees his value beyond the on-court production, whether that be as a playmaker or defender. Newly-hired Celtics coach Ime Udoka appears to be in the same spot, adding Smart as one of the “pillars” of the team.

The Celtics are in a tricky spot with their salary cap. Overspending on Smart can hamstring their finances, just when they cleared it up with the Kemba Walker trade. Much of that future is dependent on if the Celtics re-sign Evan Fournier this summer, too. Boston’s also looking to stay away from the repeater tax in the future.

Smart’s likely looking for a modest raise while solidifying his near-future in Boston. He’s a bargain at his current salary, and a few more million on top should still mean a nice fit on the roster from a financial standpoint. If Smart creeps north of $19 million or so, then it could get costly.

But a slight overpay might still be worth it for the Celtics to retain Smart, their emotional leader. His tough, defensive-minded play should mesh well with Udoka, who earned his chops in the league with a similar style.

Smart’s playmaking also becomes more valuable as the Celtics still search for some scoring and a point guard. He led Boston in assists last season and is a solid secondary playmaker, who can even slide in as the primary point guard. While the offseason is young — and the Celtics do have some options — Smart has some leverage there.

2021-22 salary: $3.6 million. Final year of a four-year, $9.3 million rookie contract. Averaged a career-best 8.0 points and 6.9 rebounds per game last season.

Williams had easily the best year of his young pro life, playing a career-high 52 games last season despite the shortened schedule. Of course, he was still hampered by injuries which is the main knock on him. He set a franchise-playoff record with nine blocks in Game 1 against the Nets in the playoffs, then couldn’t make an impact the rest of the series because of injury.

The Celtics were cautious with Williams all season, limiting minutes despite fans clamoring for more of the 23-year-old big man. Williams showcased some impressive playmaking ability as a passing big, which coupled well with his athleticism as he soared for high-flying lobs.

So what’s the best route and salary for Williams? When he’s on the court, he’s a difference-maker who fits well with Tatum and Brown’s timelines. But it doesn’t seem like Williams can consistently play a full, 82-game season throughout his career. The Celtics are most likely going to be cautious once again, limiting his playing time as he rarely goes above the 25-minute mark.

Williams is worth more than a $10 million salary — pending his health. That’s what murks up all of the uncertainty. There’s also the chance both sides agree to a long-term deal that’s not worth much, but secures the financial future for Williams.

It’s a risk for the Celtics, but if Williams pans out then he’ll be on a bargain. It’s a similar principle to when Boston recently gave Brown his contract, which looks like a steal as Brown ascended to his All-Star self last season. There are differing factors with Williams, but the risk could be worth it for the Celtics as they need at least a few breaks to get back into championship form.

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Payton Pritchard's Draft Memories | Jeep

CBS Sports HQ 21 July, 2021 - 07:02pm

What are Celtics’ Tremont Waters options in free agency if he wants a fresh start with a new team?

MassLive.com 21 July, 2021 - 07:02pm

The Celtics have a pretty sizable hole on their point guard depth chart after dealing away Kemba Walker. However, some of the team’s youth in the backcourt may also be looking for fresh opportunities elsewhere. According to the Athletic, two-way point guard Tremont Waters has been working out away from the team this offseason and is “looking for an opportunity to break into a rotation elsewhere in the NBA” for next year.

Waters was drafted in the second round by the Celtics in the 2019 NBA Draft and has played 37 games over his first two years with the team. He averaged 3.8 points and 2.4 assists in 26 games last year while getting multiple cracks at the rotation.

Waters was expected to be playing for a 15-man roster spot beginning with him taking part in NBA Summer League next month for Boston but that path looks to be in doubt now if Waters passes on the chance.

The bigger question for Boston and Waters though is what kind of freedom that Waters has to find a new home in free agency while coming off a two-way deal.

The Celtics enter this offseason with a number of guards already under contract in the backcourt. Marcus Smart looks set to be the starting point guard barring a trade or another free agent acquisition. The team also has Payton Pritchard, Romeo Langford and Carsen Edwards under guaranteed deals with Langford showing potential as a ballhandler and facilitator in spurts during a couple of games at the end of last season.

Boston also plans on getting a look at another point guard in Yam Madar, who was drafted at No. 47 overall by the team last year during Summer League. There is no guarantee that Madar is part of Boston’s plans for next year (the team would have to buy him out of his overseas contract) but his presence will certainly make it tougher for Waters to earn a roster spot.

The Celtics will maintain matching rights on all of their two-way free agents (Tacko Fall, Waters) this offseason if they make either play a qualifying offer. For two-way players, that qualifying offer is simply another two-way deal that comes with $50,000 guaranteed.

Other teams could pursue Waters if he receives a qualifying offer from Boston but it would have involved offering an NBA contract, not a two-way deal. That’s not something that seems likely given Waters’ lackluster production at the NBA level during his first two years in Boston.

For that reason, if Waters truly wants to find a fresh start in the NBA elsewhere, he has to hope the Celtics no longer have interest in retaining him on a two-way deal or simply do him a favor by not making him a qualifying offer, which would make him an unrestricted free agent. In that scenario, Waters could sign a two-way deal with any other team freely. Per CBA rules, he can be on a two-way contract for one more season before a 15-man roster spot becomes his only option to make an NBA roster.

The Celtics had very high hopes for Waters internally per sources after they drafted him and it’s unclear whether the organization is ready to give up on him yet and offer him a fresh start elsewhere. Barring the unlikely scenario of another team trying to sign him to a standard NBA contract this offseason, Waters’ best hope if he truly wants to move on to a new situation is Boston having other plans for their two-way contract slots this upcoming season under new head coach Ime Udoka. At that point, Waters will have a chance to play his way on the roster somewhere else, although that’s far from a sure thing amid a deep free agent point guard class.

The 23-year-old guard has a long pro career ahead of him. Whether it comes in the NBA remains to be seen.

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Celtics need to prioritize adding big wing or power forward, so who could they land?

The Athletic 21 July, 2021 - 11:05am

Celtics need to prioritize adding big wing or power forward, so who could they land?

2021 draft profiles: creating guards

Celtics Blog 21 July, 2021 - 09:00am

As Kemba Walker ages, the need for an offensive focal point grows. Could this be the time to spend a mid-1st rounder on a lead guard?

For Boston Celtics fans, it also marks the first NBA Draft in 18 years where Danny Ainge isn’t seated at the head of the table. Brad Stevens slides down a few seats, tasked now with constructing a roster built to win around Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Stevens knows the cupboard isn’t bare and there’s a clear playoff team here, which is why he moved out of the first round to offload Kemba Walker and make aggressive moves this summer.

That doesn’t mean the Celtics will stay out of the first round, though. Other moves or deals could be on the horizon. Which players stand out as potential fits to trade back in for? What positions do they need? Between now and the NBA Draft on July 29th, we’ll bring you answers to all those questions. We recently set the table for this discussion by previewing some of the Celtics’ most glaring needs this summer.

One such need is for a stalwart shot-creator, either for himself or for others. The backcourt last season was underwhelming behind Kemba Walker, and now Walker is gone without replacement. Guys like Payton Pritchard and Marcus Smart are good complementary pieces, but neither seems capable of being the straw that stirs the drink in moments when Tatum and Brown rest.

We’re talking about pick-and-roll creators or guys who get handed the keys to the car on offense that can simply get points on the board. As the one glaring weakness on the current construction of this roster, this would seem to be an area where Brad Stevens focuses on, trying to trade up if the Celtics do make a move.

When Bouknight goes into the gym, he brings his certification card with him because he’s a certified bucket. A high-volume scorer with a playground-esque feel to his game, James single-handedly ran Connecticut’s offense last year. He’s incredibly athletic, has the best hesitation dribble I’ve seen in years and is really comfortable creating his own shot off the bounce.

The talent could easily elevate Bouknight to a top-ten pick. The fit in Boston is a little more questionable. He was really bad when it came to catch-and-shoot impact, playing off-ball or making easy passes instead of forcing up contested shots. Part of that was his role at Connecticut, where his shots through double-teams were often better than kick outs to anyone else.

There’s a certain hesitant nature about drafting a guy with those tidbits to go next to Tatum and Brown. They could use a lead guard to ease their burden on offense but not at the expense of poor shot selection or inability to knock down spot-up threes. Bouknight shot the ball well at his pro day, the first step in rehabilitating his 3-point upside. As a talent grab, Bouknight is a guy the Celtics could easily trade up for. I’m not sure if he’s the right guy to target, especially since he’s more of a lottery name.

Watching Trae Young tear through the Eastern Conference with floater after floater has lead to the ascent of Sharife Cooper, an endlessly fun point guard who simply dominates out of the pick-and-roll. There are teams who will shy away from putting Cooper in lottery discussions because of his size, the defensive implications of that stature and the fact he struggled to shoot this year at Auburn. If he slides and the Celtics are willing to add a guy who presented many of the same defensive challenges Isaiah Thomas once did, Cooper would be an instant offensive spark.

Think of Cooper this way: he gets the ball every time he’s on offense in the pick-and-roll and seven times out of ten, something good will happen. He’ll get to the free throw line at a high rate, make acrobatic finishes and passes that drop your jaw and involve every one of his teammates. The other two times he’ll turn it over, get flooded by size in the lane or miss a jump shot.

There’s no denying that Cooper can run a second unit. Can he do it for long stretches against starting defenses in the same way Trae has in Atlanta? Without a jumper, that remains to be seen.

For the Celtics, Cooper isn’t a target I can see them chasing — especially now that they’ve traded the 16th pick and would have to give up significant capital to acquire him. Cooper presents many of the defensive challenges that Walker, Thomas and Kyrie Irving once did. The clean slate at the point guard spot means Stevens can construct a roster without a point guard getting hunted every possession in the postseason. Cooper simply doesn’t fit that mold, regardless of how offensively talented he may be.

At one point receiving lottery buzz, Tre Mann’s stock has cooled. An unbelievable shot-maker who is terrific at decision-making out of the pick-and-roll, Mann’s fit in Boston is clearly the best on this list. Add to it the fact he’s more in their draft range and he becomes a name that all Celtics fans should be getting to know heading into the draft.

What pops out first about Mann’s game is his 3-point range. He hits pull-ups far behind the line out of the pick-and-roll, making him a great compliment to Tatum and Brown when they sit and need instant offense. When playing together, Mann brings that same shot-making to his off-ball game.

At 6’5”, Mann has size in a way that’s appealing for the Celtics. But his lack of length, as well as poor track record of point of attack defense, could dissuade the C’s from moving up to grab him. The ideal fit on offense but not on defense, Mann’s only chance of coming to Beantown is if he falls into the second round and the Celtics feel comfortable that he’ll eventually grow into his frame and be solid in a switching scheme.

Boston Celtics: Evan Fournier seen as a backup target for Norm Powell suitors

Hardwood Houdini 21 July, 2021 - 07:00am

Boston Celtics Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

MassLive’s Brian Robb does not see Norm Powell being an option for the Boston Celtics in 2021 free agency this summer, but as Robb sees it, there’s a chance that whatever figure he and the Portland Trail Blazers (or a team that outbids them) agree to could have trickle-down effects on the C’s own free-agent case with Evan Fournier.

Powell opted out of his contract yesterday, deciding that he could more than recoup the $11.6 million player option on the open market. He was a trade deadline pickup from the Toronto Raptors that played a role on the 2018-19 NBA Championship team whose numbers took a slight dip when he made his way west to Portland.

New Boston Celtics President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens only has the taxpayer’s mid-level exception in free agency as it stands, meaning Powell is a mere free agency pipe dream for the Cs. But whatever salary number he lands on will affect the Celtics’ own pursuit of Fournier.

As Robb relays, teams could end up using their funds on Powell, leaving little room for a pursuit of Fournier:

Powell’s leverage with the Blazers may have a trickle-down impact on Boston’s situation though since whatever deal he agrees to could help set the market for other free agent wings. Powell is expected to have a number of suitors in free agency beyond Portland so his availability could eliminate a team from going after Boston’s Evan Fournier if they use their cap room on Powell instead.

The two free agents have remarkably similar skillsets and stat-lines, both averaging around 17 points per game the last two seasons. They are also both 28 years old. To say the pair offers similar value is not a stretch in the slightest.

Stevens is likely hoping teams will line up to land Powell in free agency while waiting it out on Fournier. In that case, he could end up negotiating a deal with Fournier below what could end up being market value for a versatile shoot-first wing.

As Robb concludes, the more wings that hit the market, the better it its for Boston. A more crowded free agent wing class means less money to go around for everyone.

Time will tell if Powell’s free agency ends up benefitting the Cs, but it’s certainly a possibility at this point.

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3 Realistic Trade Targets For Boston Celtics This Offseason

NBA Analysis Network 21 July, 2021 - 05:30am

The Boston Celtics look like they are open for business this NBA offseason. Brad Stevens, who is taking over control of the front office from Danny Ainge, who stepped down from his role, has already shown that he will be aggressive in shaking up the roster.

Days after taking over his new role with the franchise, Stevens traded starting point guard Kemba Walker to the Oklahoma City Thunder, along with a first-round draft pick. Coming back in that deal is former Celtics big man Al Horford, who will help stabilize the frontcourt.

That is far from the last move that Stevens will make in his first season away from the sidelines. Boston doesn’t have much wiggle room when it comes to the salary cap, so they likely won’t be big spenders in free agency.

Retaining Evan Fournier will likely be the biggest free-agent splash. However, armed with multiple trade exceptions, they can be active wheeling and dealing.

The Celtics have $11 million remaining from the Gordon Hayward exception after using $17 million on Fournier at the trade deadline. The Walker trade created an exception of $6.9 million as well.

Knowing they can acquire players to fit into those exceptions, expect Boston to be aggressive when pursuing trades this offseason to upgrade the roster.

Here are three realistic trade targets for the Boston Celtics.

1 NBA free agency target for each team in the Western Conference

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Every season in the NBA, it seems like two or three players really stick out compared to the rest of the league as the clear-cut MVP front-runners. This year though, you can make a case […]

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Boston Celtics: 3 moves the Cs can make to improve their shooting

Hardwood Houdini 21 July, 2021 - 03:00am

MIAMI, FLORIDA - JANUARY 15: Patty Mills #8 of the San Antonio Spurs in action against the Miami Heat during the second half at American Airlines Arena on January 15, 2020 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Boston Celtics (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)

The 2020-21 Boston Celtics were among the most inconsistent offensive basketball teams due to their scheme, depth, roster construction, and injuries. They relied too heavily on Jaylen Brown, who contracted both tendinitis and a wrist injury, and Jayson Tatum, who caught COVID mid-season.

If both were fully healthy, maybe the Cs could have wound up looking slightly better, but being as reliant as they were on two players is unsustainable and not an excellent model to win a championship.

They need to support the two with complementary role players and a scheme that doesn’t drain all their energy by the time the playoffs come around.

Drafting Payton Pritchard and Aaron Nesmith, trading for Evan Fournier at the deadline & Al Horford after the season ended, and increasing Robert Williams & Marcus Smart’s roles are great ways to help the Jays succeed and lead the Boston Celtics to banner No. 18.

However, the Celtics can not stand pat or be stubborn; they need to keep patching the holes in their roster by making trades, using their TPEs, and signing free agents.

One of the most significant holes in the team’s roster is their lack of shooting.

There are a few ways the Boston Celtics can fix this shooting hole, and there are even more ways they can improve it in free agency and on the trade market.

This article will delve into what specifically Stevens and the Boston Celtics can do to give Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown the best-spaced floor they can ask for:

Adding more shooters to the roster should be priority number one for the Boston Celtics this summer. To give you an idea of why, let’s look at some numbers that depict just how foul the team’s shooting was without Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown this past season.

The Boston Celtics ranked 11th in 3-point makes, 10th in 3-point attempts, and 10th in 3-point percentage per game.

On the surface, that’s pretty good, but take Tatum and Brown’s 3-point shooting away and you get a more accurate number.

Without the Jays, the Boston Celtics ranked 30th in 3-point makes, 30th in 3-point attempts, and 18th in 3-point percentage. Those numbers should be taken with a grain of salt, but you get the point — the Celtics need shooters!

Brad Stevens and co. can pursue guys like Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk or Garrison Matthews, who are cheap and young and who can fulfill the C’s shooting needs in restricted free agency.

Or they could go hunting in free agency using their MLE.

Players like Patty Mills, Wayne Ellington, Danny Green, or Reggie Bullock would all be a great fit in Boston, and they would not break the bank in the process.

Brad Stevens’ last option is to exercise one of his many TPEs to acquire a shooter without giving up any hard assets. Players like Larry Nance, Justin Holiday, or Kyle Anderson all fit within the Gordon Hayward TPE and could provide the Celtics with some much-needed floor spacing.

In the end, Garrison Matthews, Patty Mills, and Kyle Anderson would be the best options from each method. All are relatively cheap, Anderson and Mills have experience with Udoka, and they all come with ancillary skill sets that can help the Celtics even more.

Depending on how the Celtics play their cards, they could net all three of these guys, but it’s more likely they only come out with one or two.

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Boston Celtics: 3 non-stars Cs could trade for this offseason

Hardwood Houdini 21 July, 2021 - 01:00am

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - MARCH 15: Dejounte Murray #5 of the San Antonio Spurs looks on against the Detroit Pistons during the third quarter at Little Caesars Arena on March 15, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

Boston Celtics Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The modern-day NBA is a star driven league, but having these types of players alone is not the key to finding sustained success and the 2020-21 Boston Celtics were a prime example of this sentiment.

Despite having the likes of All-Stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown at their disposal, the Cs proved to be arguably the most disappointing team in the association considering that just last season they made it to within two games of reaching the NBA Finals and, in their follow-up campaign, they went just 36-36 and were bounced in round-one of the playoffs.

Now, one can certainly say that a large portion of this underwhelming campaign can be attributed to injuries and COVID-19 related complications, but, even still, it was quite apparent that Boston’s lack of quality depth players played a rather sizable role in their ultimate demise.

Because of this, as we embark deeper and deeper into the 2021 offseason fans and media alike are all anticipating that Brad Stevens and co. will make much-needed roster shakeups to reshape the look of this team of October’s tip-off.

While we here at HH have obviously suggested that the Boston Celtics could — and in some instances should — look into making some blockbuster trades for top-billed names, we are also heavily invested in the concept of seeing “lesser” transactions be made to better fill-out their roster.

Be it by means of deals that match salaries or by utilizing what’s left of their TPEs, there are plenty of non-stars out there that could be attained by the franchise this summer, and we at HH believe 3, in specific, should be sought after:

Though the Boston Celtics do in fact have two of the best wings in the association today in Tatum and Brown, the depth behind them is truly lacking.

Over the past few years, the team’s decision makers have certainly tried to bolster the rotation by taking two players in the lottery at such a position during back-to-back drafts (Romeo Langford in 2019; Aaron Nesmith in 2020), but both have yet to translate into true difference makers — though Nesmith certainly has shown glimpses.

Because of this, Boston will likely look to bring aboard already established players at the position with ample experience this summer and, despite not having much wiggle room in the salary department, they still have several of ways to go about landing such an asset.

One method they should consider is utilizing the remaining $11.5 million of the Gordon Hayward TPE and trading for a guy like, say, Justin Holiday from the Indiana Pacers.

Under contract for another two years at an average salary of $6.1 million, the eighth-year veteran is a quality trade target for a multitude of reasons: his team-friendly deal, his ample experience, his specific skillset, etc.

This past season, in 72-games played, the wing averaged 10.5 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists, a steal, and half a block per outing while shooting an impressive 38 percent from deep.

A highly versatile defender with a 6-6 frame and 7-foot wingspan, the 3-and-D Holiday would be a tremendous addition to Boston’s rotation is acquired.

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