In lieu of Marcus Smart, could Avery Bradley be a backup plan for Celtics?

In lieu of Marcus Smart, could Avery Bradley be a backup plan for Celtics?

BOSTON –  The Celtics have made it clear they want to re-sign Marcus Smart this summer. But if the cost of keeping him proves prohibitive to other moves this summer and next, they may very well have little choice but to let him walk. 
 
Losing Smart would be a tough pill to swallow for the Celtics, for sure. 

 
But if that void can be filled by a familiar face with a comparable defensive mindset, i.e. former Celtic Avery Bradley, that would certainly have to be an option Boston could consider in free agency. 
 
It is certainly a long shot. Boston made the trade not only for salary cap space to sign Gordon Hayward, but also to provide more opportunities for a perimeter player inTerry Rozier, not to mention to add some more versatility to the frontcourt, which we saw first-hand with Marcus Morris who came over from Detroit. 

Look at the Los Angeles Clippers, where Bradley played last season. They traded Austin Rivers to the Washington Wizards for big man Marcin Gortat, but wound up acquiring a pair of guards, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Boston College’s Jerome Robinson in the first round of last week’s NBA draft. That creates uncertainty how serious they will be in trying to re-sign Bradley, 27. 
 
But the Celtics have to have a “Plan B” in case things don’t work out with Smart. And that should include at least some consideration of a Bradley reunion in Boston. 

Don’t take this as a lobbying effort for bringing Bradley back.  He’s a good player, but re-signing Smart should be the Celtics’ top priority in terms of free agency. 
 
But if they have to go in a different direction, why not take a path they're familiar with and frankly, had a decent amount of success with?
 
Injuries this past season limited Bradley’s effectiveness and ultimately resulted in his least productive season, dating back to when he was a rookie. 
 
And injuries have been, more than anything else, the biggest concern/knock against Bradley. 
 
Nobody knows this better than the Celtics. 
 
When healthy, he provides elite play defensively in addition to being an above-average rebounder from the guard position. 
 
But again, Smart is a more ideal fit with this team based upon his size and versatility, than Bradley. That’s why retaining Smart bodes well in Boston’s quest to bring home Banner 18 next spring. 

 
If, however. the price tag for retaining Smart proves to be too high, they could do a lot worse than Bradley, a two-time all-NBA defender who knows the organization inside and out.

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Bradley finds a familiar face in L.A.

Bradley finds a familiar face in L.A.

BOSTON -- Avery Bradley spent seven seasons in Boston, but has found himself jettisoned off to two different teams in the last six months.
 
It’s the business side of things that no amount of time in the league will ever fully prepare you for.
 
But for the ex-Celtic, this latest move in many ways has him coming full circle in reuniting with Clippers boss Doc Rivers, who coached Bradley in Boston during the 6-foot-2 guard’s first four seasons in the NBA. 
 
That familiarity has been a plus for Bradley and can only help him tonight as the Clippers try to continue their winning ways against the Celtics. 
 
“It’s helped out a lot,” Bradley said. 
 
Rivers echoed similar sentiments. 

“It helps, probably for both [of us],” Rivers said.
 
However, one of the more significant differences from the time Bradley played for the Celtics under Rivers, was the offense. 

“We run so much more now,” Rivers said. “That’s who we are; that’s the type of team we have. And on the other end, he’s such a different player than when I coached him. He was so young. We wasted the first year trying to get him as a point guard and realized he’s more of a guard, he’s a heck of a player. His offensive game has opened up so much more, so . . . you don’t get this opportunity very often, when you have a young guy and then you get him back. But it’s been really cool to see the difference and the growth in Avery.”
 
Here are five under-the-radar storylines heading into tonight’s game between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Clippers.

 

L.A. REUNION

Former Celtics teammates and Tacoma, Washington natives Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley are back together -- sort of. 
 
Both were part of deals at the trade deadline, with Thomas being shipped out to the Los Angeles Lakers while Bradley now plays for the Los Angeles Clippers. 
 
Bradley said he has had conversations with his good friend/former teammate since the two were moved to teams in Los Angeles. 
 
In their conversations, Bradley has tried to remain upbeat with Thomas, who has come under heavy criticism in several circles. The negative vibe surrounding Thomas was, in part, a factor in the Cavs trading him. 
 
“All the negative press, all the bad things people are saying about him . . . I tell him everything happens for a reason and go out there and do what Isaiah Thomas does and that’s playing with confidence and helping his team win games,” Bradley said. 

TERRY ROZIER

One of the bigger influences on Terry Rozier since he has been in the NBA, has been Avery Bradley. When the two were teammates for the Celtics, Rozier would often turn to Bradley for advice as well as on-the-floor tips. Well Rozier has taken that advice and used it to become one of the more valuable role players off the Celtics bench this season. 
 
“This game is all about opportunity and confidence,” Bradley said. “So Terry is getting a great opportunity and he has confidence when he’s out there playing basketball. I’m happy for him. He’s definitely a guy that works hard and works on his game and now it’s paying off.”

TURNOVER A NEW LEAF

Boston is turning the ball over 13.9 times per game which ranks 12th in the NBA. Not bad . . . until you compare it to previous turnover numbers and rankings under Brad Stevens. Since Stevens’ rookie season, when the Celtics’ turnover average (15.3) ranked 27th in the NBA, Boston has consistently been a top-10 or borderline top-10 team in fewest turnovers committed per game. Having lost three of their last four games, Boston has averaged 14.6 turnovers, which ranks 25th in the league during that span. 

MONTREZL HARRELL

One of the more pleasant surprises for the Clippers this season has been the play of Montrezl Harrell, particularly his scoring around the rim on post-up plays. 

The 24-year-old forward has averaged 9.1 points and 3.9 rebounds per game while playing 15.4 minutes per game. 
 
“He’s a great example, every year you talk about guys accepting their role and trying to be a star in their role. He’s a perfect example,” Rivers said. “Early on he was trying to find his way. And now he knows exactly what he needs to do. He’s been amazing.
 
Rivers added, “One of the things I didn’t know about him, was I didn’t know he was that good on the post. Last year in Houston, I don’t ever remember them throwing post passes to him. I didn’t go into the season thinking about it because I never seen it. You saw it in practice and you’re thinking, are our guys bad post players on defense? And you realize he’s just good on the post.”
 
In his last five games, Harrell has shot 71.1 percent (27-for-38) from the field. 

HORFORD IMPACT

Al Horford doesn’t score nearly as much as some fans (and media members) would like to see. But there’s no denying good things tend to happen for the Celtics when he’s on the floor. This season, Boston has an offensive rating of 106.9 when the five-time All-Star is on the floor. That number drops to 100.0 when’s off the court. The 6.9 differential is tops among all Celtics players this season. 
 

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Clippers trading Blake Griffin to Pistons has ripple effect on Celtics

Clippers trading Blake Griffin to Pistons has ripple effect on Celtics

The first blockbuster major deal of the trade season went down Monday night with the Detroit Pistons agreeing to terms on a six-player deal headlined by Blake Griffin going to Detroit. Ex-Celtic Avery Bradley was among those players moved from Detroit to the Los Angeles Clippers where he will reunite with his coach in Boston, Doc Rivers.

The Boston Celtics are among the teams particularly interested in this trade for a couple of different reasons. 

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For starters, Boston is owed a 2019 first-round pick from the Clippers, a pick that’s lottery-protected (top-14). If the pick isn’t conveyed in 2019, Boston will then be owed the Clippers’ 2020 first-round pick that’s also lottery (top-14) protected. 

If the pick isn’t sent Boston’s way by 2020, it’s converted to a second-round pick in 2022. 

While the Clippers add quality depth with a pair of starters (Bradley and Tobias Harris from Detroit), they will be hard-pressed to remain anything more than a team fighting for one of the last playoff spots. 

Which brings me back to that first-round pick the Clippers owe the Celtics. 

If the Clippers believe this trade will keep them relevant as a playoff team, they may be inclined to try and re-claim the pick they owe the Celtics and use it to help add depth to their roster. 

And the cost? 

It would have to be a package (Marcus Smart? Terry Rozier?) that brings Lou Williams to Boston. 

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Williams, who is having a career season and is on the short list of Sixth Man of the Year candidates, is averaging a career-best 23.5 points per game and would address the Celtics’ biggest need – another big-time scorer besides Kyrie Irving.

And with Bradley’s arrival and ability to play both ends of the floor, the Clippers might be more inclined to part ways with Williams who will become an unrestricted free agent this summer, if they can get their first-round pick back and add a young prospect like Smart or Rozier to the fold.

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