Five free agents you may not have considered for Celtics
Five free agents you may not have considered for Celtics
BOSTON – As much as Boston Celtics fans are looking forward to the NBA draft on June 23, there’s an even greater level of excitement for free agency which begins July 1.
The Boston Celtics find themselves in unchartered territory as one of the major players on the free agent front this summer.
Boston has the potential to free up space to sign a pair of salary-maxed players which sets the backdrop for testing the long-held belief that upper echelon free agents don’t want to play for Boston.
In the recent past, the roster has had the kind of talent that made coming to Boston a bit of a deterrent because minutes would not be necessarily forthcoming. But even before that, the weather and tax advantages some other states have over Massachusetts also made coming to Boston a difficult sell.
And while Boston will be targeting the top free agents such as Kevin Durant and Al Horford, there are other free agents that have rarely been talked about in association with the Celtics that might be even more open to coming here and still be seen as an upgrade.
Here we take a look at five such players who will be free agents this summer and appear to at least be open to the idea of taking their talents elsewhere next season.
5. Pau Gasol, F, Chicago
Remember the Celtics were among the youngest teams in the NBA a year ago, so the idea of adding some veterans to the mix shouldn’t be quickly dismissed. Despite being on the north side of 35, Gasol doesn’t look as though he’s ready to call it quits anytime soon. Gasol averaged 16.5 points, 11.0 rebounds and 4.1 assists in what was his sixth All-Star season a year ago, and second straight. Gasol made $7.4 million last season and would have earned $7.8 million for this upcoming season if he did not decide to exercise his option to become a free agent this summer. Considering how well he has played the last couple of years and his age, the most likely deal for him would probably double his salary from last season in what would likely be a one or two-year deal.
4. Bismack Biyombo, C, Toronto
Biyombo played well during the playoffs, and that strong play will earn him a significant pay raise next season. He had stretches during the postseason where he just dominated the paint. But those moments came and went too quickly for anyone to feel totally comfortable. What intrigues a lot of teams about Biyombo is his size, strength, athleticism around the rim and the fact that he’s just 24 years old. He will land a multi-year contract that’s in the eight-figure-per-year range which would be a sizable bump compared to his $2.8 million salary last season.
3. Nicolas Batum, SF, Charlotte
One of the more under-rated small forwards in the NBA, Batum is a stat-sheet stuffer regardless of what team he plays for. He can handle the ball well enough to either initiate the offense or help beat a team that’s pressing. He attacks the rim well enough to where you have to respect that part of his game, and he’s a good enough shooter to where you can’t leave him open too many times. He is the quintessential “glue guy” which is great to have but not necessarily something the Celtics need. Batum would be a great fit, but his game isn’t necessarily one that will catapult Boston into that top-3 stratosphere in the East. The Hornets may have to offer him a max deal to keep him around. Because with his skillset, Batum might be open to signing on with a contender for a salary similar to the $13.1 million he made last season.
2. Marvin Williams, F, Charlotte
The narrative surrounding Marvin Williams’ NBA career is significantly different having spent the past two seasons in Charlotte. He has gone from a lottery bust to a solid, surprisingly versatile player for a promising Hornets team. His story in many ways sounds similar to what happened to Evan Turner in Boston. One of the reasons for Williams’ growth has been him playing more power forward with Charlotte. He shot a career-best 40.2 percent on 3s which factored into his effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%) being .504 which was also a career-best mark. By no means does adding the former No. 2 overall pick in the 2005 draft, automatically makes the Celtics a title contender. But his versatility offensively and improved play on the defensive end of the floor, are qualities that Boston could certainly benefit from going forward especially if they can’t re-sign Evan Turner.
1. Chandler Parsons, F, Dallas
Parsons made $15.4 million last season, had knee procedures each of the last two seasons in Dallas and still decided to opt out and become a free agent this summer. Why? Despite his injury-riddled past, Parsons is only 27 years old and has shown himself to be an increasingly more efficient player. He averaged just 13.7 points per game last season but shot a career-best 41.4 percent from 3-point range while doing so in 29.5 minutes per game which was the least amount of playing time he had since he was a rookie five years ago. In addition, his effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%) of .571 was also a career-best. Parsons can shoot 3s, set teammates up for good looks or put the ball on the floor and attack the paint all the while doing so with a tremendous amount of confidence (swagger? Cockiness?) that the Celtics could use more of on their roster. And coming out of Rick Carlisle’s system in Dallas, you know you’re adding a player who has been well-coached. There’s a tremendous risk taken by signing Parsons to a max or near-max contract following surgery on his right knee each of the last two seasons. But in building a title contender, not every decision will be a no-brainer. Sometimes a decision has to be made as much on a hunch even if the analytics data tells a different story.