You’re probably thinking the summer fireworks are finished after the Celtics brought back Tyler Zeller, added ex-Celtic Gerald Green, and signed rookies Demetrius Jackson and Ben Bentil. It’s true, these moves do lower the likelihood of a multifaceted trade, but it doesn’t totally extinguish the odds of something seismic happening.
The Celtics still retain their flexibility, since none of these deals have actually been finalized. Even after they are, they’d still have the pieces required to make a deal work for a superstar like Blake Griffin. It’s not hard to make a valid trade for one player, but it is difficult if it’s a multi-step process like a Russell Westbrook renegotiate-and-extend trade.
“This is not necessarily what the team will be,” a source told the Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach. “There’s probably changes coming.”
Well, yeah. Changes have to come. The Celtics don’t really have a choice here.
Assuming Jaylen Brown is signed, they’ll have 18 players with at least partially guaranteed contracts. So at least three players will have to be exported before the season, since the NBA requires a maximum of 15 players on a roster.
Here’s a look at the Celtics’ current projected depth chart:
|STARTERS||BENCH||RESERVES||ON THE BUBBLE|
|FRONT COURT||Amir Johnson||Kelly Olynyk||Tyler Zeller|
|Al Horford||Jonas Jerebko||Jordan Mickey||Ben Bentil*|
|Jae Crowder||Jaylen Brown*||Gerald Green||James Young|
|BACK COURT||Avery Bradley||Marcus Smart||RJ Hunter||John Holland*|
|Isaiah Thomas||Terry Rozier||Demetrius Jackson|
So, something has to happen. It’s just a matter of what. You can choose to believe the Celtics aren’t actually trying to make a blockbuster move. Or you can choose to believe the signals that have been firing off this month from the Celtics themselves indicating they’re “not done.”
It wouldn’t be difficult for the Celtics to get closer to 15 players by completing a blockbuster trade for a player like Griffin.
Perhaps some combination of veterans (Amir Johnson, Avery Bradley, and Jonas Jerebko) with youth (Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier, R.J. Hunter, and James Young) and draft picks (2018 Nets pick) could bring in Griffin and Paul Pierce.
Saturday’s moves make sense regardless of any transactions to follow.
Zeller is a bargain at just $8 million as a steadying presence on both ends of the floor. But, if Johnson were dealt, he’d be able to slide right up the depth chart as the team’s backup center.
Green shot 37.2 percent on spot up threes, per SportVU, over the past three years, so he provides spacing as a scorer who can catch fire. Considering Brad Stevens’ track record of sapping every ounce of talent out of each of his players -- hello, Jordan Crawford! -- it’s possible the Celtics will be getting the Green who scored an efficient 15.8 points per game just two years ago in Phoenix, and not the subpar Green who struggled to stay on the court last year in Miami.
If one or two of Boston’s young wings were dealt, Green, on a mere veteran minimum contract, would have an even easier path to playing time as a spark off the bench.
It’s difficult to read into the signings of second-round picks Jackson and Bentil, but either way the should both spend the season developing with the Celtics’ D-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws.
The Celtics haven’t made a move yet, but they also haven’t done anything to suggest they’re entirely done. These moves could be precursors to something significant, or not. But at the least they provide depth to an already impressive roster.