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: Memphis' Zach Randolph
BOSTON -- For the better part of the last decade, Zach Randolph has been one of the NBA’s best low-post scorers.
Now 35 (he’ll be 36 next month), Randolph doesn’t dominate nearly as much as he used to.
THE OTHER GUYS: POTENTIAL CELTIC FREE-AGENT TARGETS
That doesn’t mean the 6-foot-9 big man doesn’t have value.
Especially for teams that have had trouble generating points in the paint -- like Boston.
WE LIKE HIM BECAUSE . . .
Last season, the Celtics averaged 41.8 points in the paint per game, which ranked 23rd in the NBA.
Randolph played limited minutes (24.5) for the Memphis Grizzlies last year but still managed to generate 8.2 points in the paint per game, which ranked fifth among NBA players who averaged less than 25 minutes per game.
Having a player who is so efficient scoring the ball in the post would do wonders for the Celtics, particularly on those nights when the opposing defense forces Boston to play more of a slower, half-court game.
Because he has been such a load for years to defend on the block, Randolph has the ability to draw a decent amount of attention. That should open up things for his teammates.
NOT CRAZY ABOUT . . .
He’s 35 years old, and let’s face it: There’s not a huge market for big men who have been in the league more than a decade, and don’t qualify as stretch big men. Randolph’s age and style of play will to some degree limit the offers he’s likely to get this summer.
Not only is his age a factor, but his ability to defend is another negative. It’s not like Randolph is a bad post defender. But the problem is, more and more teams have stretch bigs, which forces him to play defense further away from the basket.
Because of that, often he finds himself having to defend guys driving to the basket or roaming out near the three-point line.
But despite his shortcomings, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone in Memphis who does not love Z-Bo. His infectious brand of hard-working, on-the-grind basketball has made him a fan favorite for years. That, coupled with him still showing signs of being able to contribute some, will make it difficult for the Grizzlies to not seriously consider re-signing him.
IN CONCLUSION . . .
If he’s one of the bigger offseason signings for the Celtics, then things went terribly wrong for Boston. But the big picture remains the same: The Celtics aim to be a little better now than they were yesterday. Adding Randolph addresses their need for another scorer around the basket and a rebounder. But there will be some defensive issues that might limit how much action he would see.
PRICE TAG: Two years, $10 million.
Randolph could probably get more money-wise elsewhere, but he just might be willing to take less than his market value for a chance to play for a team that’s advanced to the Eastern Conference finals. But because of his age and his defensive deficiencies, Randolph’s impact for the Celtics would be extremely limited. Still, having a player with his experience, intensity and offensive skills enhances a Boston team that’s striving to be as diverse as possible and, thus, better equipped to handle whatever lineup it faces.