The Celtics have entered an off-season that could potentially change their franchise for years to come. With the number one pick in the draft, a ton of trade chips, and enough cap space to add a max player, this team has the ability to add multiple game-changing pieces to a team that finished atop the Eastern Conference for the first time since the 07-08 season. Consider this my wish list to Danny Ainge for what I want to see happen this offseason:
- Push for Gordon Hayward: The Celtics need another scorer to pair with Isaiah Thomas. Outside of IT’s 28.9 PPG, the Celtics highest scorers this season were Avery Bradley with 16.3 and Al Horford with 14. If you take a look around the league at the top dogs (Golden State, Cleveland, San Antonio, etc.), they all have at least two guys that are eclipsing 20 PPG. In 34.5 minutes Hayward averaged 21.6 PPG this season. In just one less minute, the Celtics only got 13.6 PPG from Jae Crowder at the same position. Inserting Hayward in the starting lineup and bringing Crowder in off the bench would have an immediate positive impact on the offense. He is also very familiar with Brad Stevens, so it shouldn’t take him too long to get acclimated to how the Celtics play. I think he’d be a great fit in Boston.
- Don’t worry about all of your upcoming free agents: Kelly Olynyk, Jonas Jerebko, Amir Johnson, Tyler Zeller (team option), Gerald Green, and James Young are all heading into free agency this offseason and I really wouldn’t mind if not a single one of them return next year. I know what I’m going to get from all of these guys on a night to night basis, and I think the Celtics could do a lot better with the money they’ve invested in them. Letting them all walk would free up about $33M in cap space. That extra money plus what they already have could maybe help them either sign some big names to take those minutes, create cap flexibility in trade scenarios, take care of their own guys (IT, Bradley), or sign the guys they stashed overseas from last years draft (Yabusele, Zizic). I wouldn’t mind if they brought Gerald Green back considering it should not cost that much, but everyone else can go.
- Draft Markelle Fultz: I already wrote a blog about why I want Markelle Fultz, so I’m not going to dig too deep into this one (here it is if you haven’t read it: https://couchguysports.com/2017/05/19/the-celtics-need-to-keep-this-years-pick) But like I’ve said before, there’s no way you can retain IT, Bradley, and Smart once their contracts are up and still have some sort of financial flexibility. So drafting Fultz and still being able to play for the now while also gearing up for what the future of this team may hold is the smartest move they could make.
- Package next year’s Brooklyn pick with some other pieces (Crowder, Smart, Rozier, other picks, etc.) to try and get an elite rebounder: The Celtics finished 27th in the league in team rebounding last season (42 RPG). They were also completely dominated on the glass in the playoffs by both the Bulls and Cavs. If the Clippers do blow it up this offseason like everyone thinks they should, Danny Ainge should try to swoop in and snag DeAndre Jordan. He finished the season tied with Andre Drummond at second for rebounds per game with 13.8. The Celtics also desperately lacked a rim protector this year, another role Jordan could fill with his 1.8 BPG. Doc Rivers the GM is nowhere near as good as Doc Rivers the coach, so maybe Ainge could pull something off here.
I’m not saying these moves are going to happen or put the Celtics ahead of Cleveland and Golden State, but they would definitely be a step in the right direction.
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Written By: Nick Cherico (@NickCherico2)