Boston Celtics may eye these potential buyout candidates
BOSTON -- With the trade deadline a thing of the past, the focus for the Celtics and the rest of the NBA is now geared towards building for the playoffs.
The Celtics have a roster that seems to have quality depth at most positions, so -- unlike a lot of teams -- there really isn’t that one area of weakness they need to significantly upgrade between now and the postseason. More than anything, Boston has to consider adding depth to a roster that has been built largely in part on the ability to come at teams in waves. Since a 10-10 start, Boston has been among the league’s best in a multitude of categories . . . including wins.
But that doesn’t mean the Celts won’t look long and hard at ways to add to their already-deep roster, with the buyout market being the most likely approach. Here’s a look at the top potential buyout candidates that the Celtics should have some level of interest in acquiring:
ENES KANTER, NEW YORK
The Knicks are loading up for what they hope will be the addition of two max-salaried stars this summer, and Kanter clearly does not fit into their plans for the future. Offensively, he is one of the best bigs you’ll find in the league when it comes to scoring the ball. He’s averaging just 25.6 minutes per game this season but is generating a double-double on a nightly basis (14.0 points and 10.5 rebounds on 53.6 percent shooting from the field). Defensively, though, he’s a walking turnstile, which makes it extremely difficult to envision how he would fit on the Celtics roster. Still, a player with that ability to score so quickly in addition to making his presence felt on the glass, has to be explored. And when you throw in the fact that he’s just 26 years old, it becomes pretty clear that getting him via buyout is the kind of gamble that more likely than not is worth taking. UPDATE: Kanter was waived by the Knicks on Thursday afternoon.
CHANDLER PARSONS, MEMPHIS
There was a time not that long ago when any shot at landing Chandler Parsons would have been embraced. But once he reaches a buyout with the Grizzlies, teams -- including the Celtics -- have reason to be skittish about making a strong play for him. His career has been defined by the assortment of injuries that have limited him recently. Dating back to 2016-17, Parsons has played in a total of just 73 games -- that’s less than one full season.
Teams looking to add him have no feel for whether he can play anywhere close to where he was before being plagued by a series of injuries. A 6-foot-10 small forward, he has the kind of size, length, and passing ability that would fit in nicely with Boston’s emphasis on ball movement and desire as a team to pass up good looks for great ones. But again, with Parsons it comes back to his health and whether he can embrace a role that’s significantly limited compared to the roles he has had in the past when healthy.
WESLEY MATTHEWS, NEW YORK
If the Knicks waive him, as expected, the Celtics should have major competition for his services. Matthews has been a consistent double-digit scorer in the NBA who shoots 3’s in the mid-to-high 30s percentage-wise. There are several teams that will make a play for Matthews, with the two-time defending NBA champion Warriors being at or near the top of that list. And with the Celtics, minutes for the 32-year-old would be hard to come by. Celtics fans shouldn’t hold out much hope when it comes to Matthews signing with Boston if, as expected, the Knicks buy him out. UPDATE: Matthews was waived by the Knicks on Thursday afternoon.
JR SMITH, CLEVELAND
For months, the Cavaliers have tried really hard to find a new home for JR Smith to no avail. Away from the team, a buyout of his contract seems inevitable at this point. He doesn’t deliver nearly as consistently as we’ve seen in the past. However, he still has the talent to get hot at any moment and when he does, he’s the kind of player who can win you a playoff game or two, which is exactly the kind of player you would like to add via the buyout market. Throw in the fact that him and Danny Ainge have played a little golf together -- and Smith’s tandem apparently emerged victorious -- and it would not come as a total shock if the Celtics swung a deal to land the often-traveled Smith via the buyout market.
DeANDRE JORDAN, NEW YORK
This is one of those potential buyout candidates in name only. If the Knicks make the kind of major splashes this summer that they want, Jordan wouldn’t be a bad player to have around to help round out some of the rough patches that will still exist regardless of what moves New York makes. And Jordan might actually be an asset of sorts in making one of those moves -- signing Kevin Durant -- New York wants to make. At 30 years old, Jordan’s game isn’t going to change. He’ll rebound the ball, score now and then, and provide a presence in the middle. While getting bought out is an option, it should come as a surprise to no one if he remains with the Knicks for the rest of this season.
WAYNE ELLINGTON, PHOENIX
The Suns acquired him via trade from Miami, and his agent immediately began working towards trying to get Phoenix to buy him out. He wants to play for a contender. His role in Miami was limited this season, averaging just 8.4 points while playing 21.3 minutes -- his lowest amount in five seasons. The 31-year-old is a player whose 3-point shooting can be a huge bonus to a playoff-caliber squad, coming off the bench. He has shot better than 36 percent on 3-pointers in nine of his 10 NBA seasons, the kind of perimeter shooting that you could easily see Philadelphia or Oklahoma City making a strong run at by offering him the two things he wants most right now -- playing time and playing for a contender.
DeWAYNE DEDMON, ATLANTA
The Hawks are moving in a direction that frankly, doesn’t appear to include Dedmon as part of their future with the improved play of John Collins and to a lesser extent, Alex Len. Still, he’s a productive big man whose game has been expanded the last couple of years to include 3-point shooting. But a more likely scenario for the Hawks if they can’t trade him, is to keep him around for the rest of the season and let him walk this summer when he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
ROBIN LOPEZ, CHICAGO
If he is bought out, this might be the most logical pairing in terms of the player involved and the team pursuing. The 30-year Lopez is a solid defender and rebounder who doesn’t bring much to the table offensively. That’s okay in Boston, where there are more than enough scorers. And for Lopez, it's an opportunity to be part of a winning team, something he hasn't experienced much of during his NBA career. Even in a limited role, Lopez may be at a point in where he wants to be part of something that has little to do with him, and everything to do with him staying ready and able to contribute when called upon. This would be a solid insurance policy-type pickup for the Celtics.
JAMAL CRAWFORD, PHOENIX
For a young team struggling like Phoenix, Jamal Crawford has been a model citizen who has embraced the role of elder statesman who from time to time, reminds the young fellas that he can still get buckets and his crossover dribble is still killin’ more than a decade later. But you wonder if he’s itching at all to be part of a winning franchise, one that has a deep playoff run as an expectation and not necessarily a goal.
The only way he’s being bought out in Phoenix is if he asks for it, and that’s an unlikely scenario. But on the off-chance that he does want a change of scenery, the Celtics would be wise to at least give it some thought.
ZACH RANDOLPH, DALLAS
The 37-year-old hasn’t logged a single minute of playing time this season while in Sacramento, and that’s not going to change since he has been traded to Dallas. Look for him to be among the early players bought out, and will get a few looks for sure. But you have to wonder just how much Z-Bo has left in the tank. Because even if he’s half the player we’ve seen in the past, that’s still good enough to get on the floor and help Boston win a game here and there either in the playoffs or in this final stretch run of the regular season. And for a guy who has spent most of his career playing for bad teams or teams that didn’t last very long in the postseason, he'd embrace the chance to join a playoff-bound squad like the Celtics.
PAU GASOL, SAN ANTONIO
With a recent report that the Spurs are looking to trade Gasol, it would not be all that surprising if he’s among the players to be bought out by the Spurs. This has been the lowpoint stats-wise for Gasol this season, one in which he has averaged just 4.5 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. And while he’s not nearly as dominant a player as we’ve seen throughout the course of what has been a Hall of Fame-worthy career, there’s tremendous value in having a big man trio of Al Horford, Aron Baynes and Gasol. He's shooting 47.6 percent from the field, which is better than he has shot from the floor in two of the last three seasons. And his ability to be a presence defensively in spurts, is still there.
He too would be a good buyout addition for the Celtics as they make what they hope will be a deep playoff run that’ll end with a trip to the NBA Finals.
MARCIN GOTAT, LA CLIPPERS
Reportedly on the verge of being waived prior to the trade deadline, Gortat would be an ideal fit for what the Celtics are looking for on the buyout market. The 34-year-old center was not an ideal fit for the Clippers this season, although his numbers were fairly solid considering the amount of playing time he received. He averaged 5.0 points and 5.6 rebounds while averaging just 16 minutes per game. Aron Baynes has endured more injuries this season. Ditto for rookie big man Robert Williams III, whose injuries have often coincided with Baynes being out. Gortat would have to embrace a role that would be even more limited than the one he had with the Clippers this season. If he’s agreeable to that, Boston could be a nice landing spot for him while providing the Celtics with added big man depth which, based on their roster, appears to be the biggest area of concern heading into the postseason.