The Celtics' two main targets in free agency are expected to be Gordon Hayward and Blake Griffin. But what if neither signs here ... or what if the C's have other plans? This week, we'll look at some of "The Other Guys" who might interest the Celtics: TODAY: Miami's James Johnson.
THE OTHER GUYS: POTENTIAL CELTIC FREE-AGENT TARGETS
BOSTON – You can’t help but be impressed by the way the Miami Heat did a complete 180-degree turn from a horrific 11-30 start to close the second half of the season with a 30-11 record.
No player better symbolized Miami’s rise-from-the-ashes more than James Johnson, an NBA journeyman who may have finally found his niche.
Looking back at the point-forward role he played for Miami, it in many ways was similar to the lift Boston got from Evan Turner a couple years ago.
No disrespect to Johnson, but the Celtics have a number of players that they would prefer to add to the roster instead of the 6-foot-9 Johnson.
But the versatility he showed this past season coupled with his overall impact – particularly late in games – make him a player who could add value to the Celtics’ roster if they fall short of their primary free agent targets.
WE LIKE HIM BECAUSE...
Having never made than $4 million in a single season (and that was last season), the cost of adding Johnson to the roster won’t be steep.
He credits the Heat for helping him get into the best basketball shape of his life. It should pay off in a big way this summer. Knowing how committed he was to his conditioning leading into this past season certainly is looked upon favorably by the Celtics.
As we touched on earlier, Johnson does play a decent amount of point-forward for the Heat. But we’ve also seen him slide over and play center at times, too. Because he can essentially play just about every position on the floor, he tends to find mismatches and the Heat did a nice job of taking advantage of exploiting those opportunities.
NOT CRAZY ABOUT...
Because of how well things turned out in his first season with the Heat, Johnson, 30, has made it clear that his preference is to return to Miami with a multi-year deal (preferably four years).
The Heat enjoyed having Johnson in the fold, but like the Celtics, they too have their sights set on signing players who can make a greater impact on the game; i.e. Gordon Hayward, who is expected to choose between staying in Utah or signing with Boston or Miami.
At 30, adding a player at this point in their career who has been primarily a role player, doesn’t seem like an ideal move to make for a Celtics team that has visions of deep playoff runs with superstar-caliber talent leading the way.
He’s a good player who will help someone next season, but don’t look for it to be the Celtics. His versatility will be rewarded by some team, and that team could have been Boston maybe a year or two ago.
Two years, $30 million. He’s a beefier, frontcourt version of ex-Celtic Turne,r who signed a four-year, $70 million contract last summer. Johnson isn’t going to get that kind of money, but he will get a sizeable raise. But that bump in pay coming from the Celtics seems unlikely.