The NBA offseason is here and FortyEightMinutes is examining the key questions for each team heading into the big night. Today, we’ll take a look at the Boston Celtics.
1. What are Boston’s biggest needs heading into the offseason?
The Boston Celtics have a steady roster going into the 2021-2022 season led by All-Star’s Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who are each implementing themselves as one of the brightest and the best duo’s in the NBA. Yet, adding to those two will be key.
In the draft, the Celtics could look for an athletic center or forward who’s capable of stretching the floor beyond the three-point line. Tristian Thompson and Robert Williams remain at the position but neither have any type of a jump shot that can extend beyond the perimeter. With how the game is transitioning, it’s very useful to have forwards and centers who can score at all phases but also protect the paint and the rim.
Another option for the Celtics is to possibly add a proven all-around scorer that can contribute off the bench when Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum is not on the floor so the production doesn’t decrease as much as it has over the past few years when both guys are off the floor. The Celtics could very well go from the seventh seed this past year to a top contender in the Eastern Conference by just making minimal moves as long as they are the right ones.
2. What will happen with Kemba Walker?
Back in 2020, the Celtics attempted to trade the All-Star point guard to the Spurs, which led to a rift in the relationship which has not been fixed since. It’s been reported that Kemba Walker and the Celtics have mutually agreed on seeking a potential trade.
It will be interesting to see the type of market Walker will have due to the little success and often injuries over these past two seasons. In 43 games this season Kemba Walker averaged a career-low of 19.3 PPG and also had career lows in every statistical category except three-point percentage.
It’s hard to say who has the most leverage at the moment but Walker is under contract for the next two seasons making roughly $36.0 million in the 2021-22 season and $37.7 million via with a player option the following year.
3. Who will be the Celtics’ new head coach?
The Celtics’ next move will be to name it 18th coach in franchise history. There are a few rumors that have been speculated for possible options. Lloyd Pierce, who formerly was the coach of the Hawks, Jason Kidd, who is an assistant on the Lakers, and Chauncey Billups, who is currently an assistant for the Clippers, are among the candidates linked to the job. Billups, who’s also on Portland’s radar, has been raved about as a high IQ basketball mind.
Other candidates are in the mix. It’s been reported that the team may try to pry Nate McMillan from the Hawks. If Jeff Van Gundy or Mark Jackson, who coached the Warriors before Steve Kerr took over, opt to seriously consider moving away from the booth, each will garner interest. Many executives and other highly respected members believe Jackson has deserved a job for quite some time now. Whoever Brad Stevens decides to hire will be a big deal because this will ultimately be Steven’s first major move in the front office role after taking over for longtime GM Danny Ainge.
4. Should the team re-sign Evan Fournier?
Evan Fournier’s role with the Celtics was slow to develop but he impressed as time went on. In May, Fournier shot from 54.6 percent from the field and averaged 19.9 points per game after a rough stretch to begin his Boston career. Injuries played a role and there’s no doubting that a healthy Fournier can score the basketball. He’s been a proven shooter his whole career in Orlando, someone who doesn’t necessarily need the ball in his hands to make an impact.
However, with how crowded the Celtics are at the guard positions and the possibility of them drafting another guard, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Fournier head elsewhere this off-season in free agency. Much will depend on how the new coach, whoever it ends up being in Boston, decides to use his roster. If the team intends to play Jayson Tatum at the power forward position, you could see Fournier fit nicely into the starting lineup. But if he doesn’t, Fournier would have to come off the bench and that role has less value to the club.
5. Potential trade, free agent targets?
Boston will look to be very active this summer, though there will be some restrictions. The Celtics have roughly $132 million under contract for next season, which means they have little spending money to sign any big-name free agents.
If the Celtics make any blockbuster moves it will more than likely have to be via trade and an big deal could see Walker heading outbound an. The ideal move for Boston would to be able to package Kemba up with picks and another player or two for Damian Lillard. But there has been no indication that Portland has any intent to move the franchise player.
- Sending Kemba Walker to Dallas in a package that nets Kristaps Porzingis is intriguing. Porzingis was hurt for the most part of this season. When he did play he didn’t look like himself either but much like Kemba, injuries have been a key part in what has held him back in his time in Dallas. Porzingis can stretch the floor beyond the perimeter (which the Celtics lack) and is known to be able to knock down shots and score in a facet of ways. Walker for Porzingis may not happen straight up but it could be a good deal for both sides if the two teams can agree on what else to include in the trade.
- Jeremy Lamb stands out as a candidate who the Celtics could add for a small price. If Boston envisions Robert Williams seeing an increase in minutes and becoming the full-time starting center, the Boston could look to send Tristian Thompson to Indiana and grab the sharp-shooter Jeremy Lamb to add to their need for bench scoring in return. This could be more of a consideration, especially if Fournier leaves the Celtics and Myles Turner finds his way out of Indiana.
- If the Celtics can find a way to free up some cap space by trading Kemba Walker for a player who is on a cheaper deal, Lonzo Ball could be an option for the Celtics to consider in free agency. Even if they don’t clear space, a sign-and-trade is possible. Ball averaged 14.6 points, 5.7 assists, and 4.8 rebounds per game while shooting a career-high 37.8% from the three-point line. Lonzo being a proven two-way and pass-first player would fit really well with Tatum and Brown.