Could James Johnson be an Evan Turner-type for Celtics?

Could James Johnson be an Evan Turner-type for Celtics?

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. 


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.
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.

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.

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Reserve-heavy Celtics keep at it, top Trail Blazers

NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Reserve-heavy Celtics keep at it, top Trail Blazers

1:13 - The Celtics came away with a 105-100 win in Portland on Friday night. Find out why Chris Mannix is calling this the best Celtics win of the season.

6:05 - Mannix discusses details about Kyrie Irving’s ‘minimally invasive’ procedure on his knee and what his level of concern is with A. Sherrod Blakely and Gary Tanguay.

10:03 - Michael Holley and Tom Curran discuss what NFL players, including Devin McCourty, are doing beyond the gridiron by being active in criminal justice reform discussions held at Harvard this week.



Morris getting it done for Celtics on both ends of the floor

Morris getting it done for Celtics on both ends of the floor

When you think about Marcus Morris these days, big-time scoring immediately comes to mind. 

But in Boston’s 105-100 comeback win over Portland, Morris’ contributions went beyond the game-high 30 points he dropped on the Blazers.

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“Coach (Brad Stevens) is doing a great job of getting me the ball in my spots and my teammates are finding me,” Morris told reporters after the win. “And I’m just coming through.”

He’s providing strong play and a tremendous presence at both ends of the floor which has been critical to the team navigating some choppy waters with a number of regular rotation players – namely Kyrie Irving – out with injuries.

“One thing is, he’s healthy,” said Boston’s Al Horford, referring to the sore knee that limited Morris earlier this season and at times forced him to miss games. “And the other is, he’s just more confident, he’s playing very assertive. He’s playing great right now, in a really good rhythm.”

Said Stevens: “That’s been him (Morris). As he’s continued to feel better; I think physically he’s felt as good as he’s felt. He’s comfortable in our system and we need him to score. If you’re a basketball player and your job is to score, that’s a pretty good job.”

And it’s one that even with all the injuries Boston has played through, few envisioned him being such an integral part of the offense. 

Morris’ calling card prior to arriving in Boston was his defense. 

But Morris has made it known that his focus on the floor is to be as complete a player as possible.

“I’m not trying to just limit myself to just being that scorer,” Morris said. “Also, on the defensive end I think I’m bringing it; my defense has gotten a lot better, especially my on-the-ball defense. I’m trying to be that all-around player and not just an offensive player … but I can score.”