Top 5 free agent big wings Celtics could target
BOSTON -- Size really does matter, especially when it comes with small-forward size, power forward-like strength and/or length and a decent stroke from the perimeter.
Yes, it’s a lot to ask of any one player for sure.
But as the NBA continues to grow, so do the skills possessed by players who normally play small forward.
Rather than being pigeon-holed as a 3-man only, small-ball lineups have allowed players at the small-forward position like Boston’s Jae Crowder to thrive when sliding over to power forward.
And players with power-forward size with the ability to shoot with range or handle the ball a-la Draymond Green, has created not only more opportunities but also a new hybrid position on the floor.
Here are five big wing players the Celtics could target during free agency.
5. LUOL DENG, MIAMI
Consistency has been a hallmark of Deng during his 12 NBA seasons, during which he's averaged between 11.7 points (his rookie season) and 18.8 (in 2007). At 6-foot-9 with a wingspan of more than 7-feet, the transition to playing more power forward than small has been relatively smooth for Deng. But at 31, there are concerns as to how much longer Deng can play at a fairly high level. This past season he averaged 12.3 points per game, his lowest scoring average since his rookie season. A good player who, like many at this position, would be best served taking his talents to another city besides Boston, where playing time would be plentiful.
4. MARVIN WILLIAMS, CHARLOTTE
The narrative on Marvin Williams the NBA player has changed dramatically since he left Atlanta. Williams showed tremendous versatility and efficiency in the last two seasons for Charlotte, floating back and forth between small forward and power forward. And he’s coming off arguably his best season as a pro: He averaged 11.7 points per game and shot a career-high 40.2 percent on 3s while grabbing 6.4 rebounds, which was also a career high. But seeing him in a Celtics jersey seems highly unlikely at this point. For starters, he’ll get offers that will include a more prominent role than the one he’d get on a Boston roster that includes Jae Crowder and recently drafted Jaylen Brown, both of whom will play the hybrid forward position for the Celtics. Because of that, others will likely be willing to pay more for his services.
3. MIRZA TELETOVIC, PHOENIX
Teletovic is coming off a career year in his lone season in Phoenix, registering career highs in scoring (12.2) and 3-point shooting (39.3 percent). And it's Teletovic’s long-range skills that make this 6-foot-9 forward a player of interest for the Celtics. In two games against Boston last season, he averaged 19.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists. The one knock against Teletovic is the fact that he’s still relatively young in terms of experience, but the four-year veteran will be 31 in September. If the Celtics were to add him, it would most likely be on a short-term deal (two years, team option second year perhaps?) that would provide Boston with added depth in the short term while maintaining a certain degree of fiscal flexibility.
2. CHANDLER PARSONS, DALLAS
When he opted out of the final year of a deal paying $16.4 million, it became clear Parsons is seeking a multiyear deal worth at least $20 million per season. With the NBA’s salary cap expected to be in the $94 million neighborhood, Parsons will find a team willing to pay him something within that range. Despite knee injuries prematurely ending his last two seasons in Dallas, there are few players in the NBA with his size, playmaking skills and ability to score driving to the basket or from the perimeter -- and he knows this. That’s why the idea of him getting max or near-max money isn’t all that farfetched. All indications are that the Celtics have at least a couple other targets rated ahead of him on their wish-list. But if Boston strikes out on its top targets and Parsons is still available, no one should be shocked if the two circle back and strike a deal.
1. KEVIN DURANT, OKLAHOMA CITY
The No. 1 target on the free-agent market, the Celtics are one of the select six teams Durant has indicated he'll talk to shortly after free agency begins on Friday. While Boston appears to be the longest of longshots, the one thing the Celtics have going for them that sets them apart from most of the rest is that acquiring Durant will not involve them having to unload key players in order to make room salary-wise. Still, it’s hard to imaging Durant suiting up for any team other than the Thunder next season when you think about the business and basketball benefits of staying put for one more season.