Udoka hints at Celtics' offseason plan by pointing out 'key' need

Ime Udoka

Just because the Boston Celtics reached their first NBA Finals since 2010 doesn't mean they're content with their current roster.

Speaking with reporters earlier this week, Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens identified bench scoring as a "short-term need" for Boston entering NBA free agency and trade season.

Head coach Ime Udoka is on the same page as his boss.

"For us, consistent scoring off the bench is a huge key," Udoka said in a press conference Friday morning. "... I think we have a lot of things covered, but you can always have additions with the trade exceptions we have. So, we'll take a look at a certain amount of names that are available possibly and see if we can fit anything in numbers-wise."

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The Celtics have several traded player exceptions, or TPEs, that they can use to acquire talent without having to match salaries in a deal. Their biggest TPE ($17.1 million) would allow them to trade for a pretty big name, but it seems more likely that the C's target a veteran free agent who fits into the mid-level exception ($6.1 million for tax-paying teams) or deal for a veteran who fits into one of their smaller TPEs ($6.9 million or $5.9 million).

After watching his trio of young reserves -- 27-year-old Derrick White, 23-year-old Grant Williams and 24-year-old Payton Pritchard -- struggle in the 2022 NBA Finals, Udoka seems keen on adding a veteran scorer to his second unit.


"I think the thing that stood out a little bit in the Finals was our bench scoring; kind of solidifying that with veteran roles off the bench," Udoka said.

"We had some young guys who we really relied on -- Payton, Derrick, Grant -- and those guys drew tremendously throughout the year and we need to see more of that. But certain positions and roles need to be touched on, and we have a good amount of names that we're looking at. Hopefully some of those names work out for us."

Udoka also stressed the importance of internal development, and all three of those players flashed potential this postseason -- especially Williams, who scored 21 points in a Game 7 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks. But when your bench gets outscored 52-9 combined in Games 5 and 6 of the NBA Finals, you may want to consider adding players with more experience.

NBA free agency begins next Thursday, June 30, and don't be surprised if the Celtics have interest in veteran scorers making somewhere in the $5 million or $6 million range.