The NBA Awards have concluded and the 2018-2019 season has begun. Time for free agency!
Celtics sign Eurostar Brad Wanamaker (guard): Wanamaker (28) was MVP of the Turkish Finals with Fenerbahce (team). He went undrafted in 2011 and went overseas to play, where he had played with Daniel Theis in 2015. We should already see some chemistry between the two players, but the only question that stands is where Brad will fit in the scheme and the amount minutes will he get. He will most likely be a role player (where he should get minutes alongisde Theis), but does that mean Shane Larkin will be replaced? He adds depth to the guard position which already consists of Kyrie, Smart (RFA), Rozier, and Larkin.
Celtics draft Robert Williams (center) with the 27th pick in the 2018 Draft: Robert Williams was the starting center at Texas A&M. Williams was said to be one of the steals of the draft because he dropped to number 27 after projected to be a lottery pick. His drop was due to his attitude and jump shot. He is known to not have the best work ethic and attitude towards the team. He already slept in when scheduled to have a conference call with the Celtics a day after the draft. His attitude could be due to his under-usage at A&M. He was their best player, and was not used to his full potential. His jump shot has already been addressed by Brad Stevens:
As far as handling and passing, I actually think he’s got a good foundation there. I think that he’ll improve his shot, and we’ll get right to work on that, but handling and passing, he’ll be able to do that and continue to get better at. We put a lot of time into ball-handling with our bigs from Day 1, once they get here, and obviously into the dribble hand-offs and the passing. He won’t have any better role models than the guys in front of him, so those are things that over time will certainly be there, but I think sooner rather than later. And then, we saw this a little bit with (Daniel) Theis this year and Al (Horford) in the Playoffs quite a bit, and (Aron) Baynes, that when you can get a step on guys and just throw it up in the air, no matter how consistent the help is at being over, you’re going to draw something.
Brad also said this on how he could fit into the Celtics system: “I think when you look at guys with size and how they can impact the game now, is he’s got good feet, he’s a good athlete, he’s got a 7’5” wingspan, and he plays way above the rim. The ability to block shots, the ability to alter shots, good quickness to catch up to guards shooting if they get a step and being able to still alter that. And then obviously, if you can have four shooters on the floor and a guy like that rolling to the rim, you can just throw it up in the air and he can go get it and finish it.”
Williams should be a key to this team entering the season. He will most likely start as a backup to the starting center, but could be a starter depending on the moves made by the Celtics in the offseason (if Dwight Howard is signed or if Baynes is let go).
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(UFA = Unrestricted Free Agent | RFA = Restricted Free Agent)
Free Agents: Greg Monroe (UFA), Aron Baynes (UFA), Shane Larkin (UFA), Jabari Bird (RFA), Jonathan Gibson (RFA), Marcus Smart (RFA)
Priority One: Re-Signing Marcus Smart (guard)
The big name here is Marcus Smart. We all saw the impact he’s had on this team, particularly when he wasn’t playing. The team showed no aggressiveness on the court and couldn’t make big plays on defense like Smart can do.
He is, in my opinion, the best perimeter defender in the league. He developed into one great playmaker. He grabs the offensive rebounds that other Celtics are too afraid to touch and puts his body on the line. He doesn’t come with a great jumpshot, and while he does need to learn when and when not to take the shot, he makes a high IQ plays on both sides of the floor. Reports say he is looking for a big contract and Jackie MacMullan of ESPN says he’s “worth more than $12-14 million”. Cap space and money is a bit of an issue with the Celtics right now, so they are in no hurry to sign him, but if another team does take interest, I think the Celtics need to take action. I mean, he’s one of the best guards in free agency this year, so it’s not surprising if another team wants to get him.
He really is the heart of this Celtics team.
Priority Two: Eh, not many more priorities
The big things on people’s minds right now might be the big men.
Aron Baynes is a free agent, so he would have to be signed to be on the team next year. Baynes has proven to be a good big man, despite getting trashed on by the media and dunked on several times by Antetokounmpo (I’ve got the spelling of his name down).
Brad Stevens praising Aron Baynes:
“I’ve said this not enough times: you can’t have better leaders than Al (Horford) and Baynes. You can’t,” Stevens said. “They’re both our two oldest players, they’re totally selfless, they’re totally in it for the team, they wrap their arms around young guys. It’s as good as it gets. So being able to take him in and out of the lineup has set a great example for everybody else.”
“Baynes has been our anchor down there all year.”
Brad loves Baynes, and honestly so do I. Brad described him as doing all the dirty work of the team, similar to Smart, and being selfless, so I do think it would be worth signing him.
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Dwight Howard’s name has been tossed around. He put up pretty good numbers last year. But, I’m not going to say much because I don’t think the Celtics should get him. He could stall the development of Williams (in terms of getting minutes on the court), takes up money, and I don’t think he’s worth it. I don’t think we should use the money on Howard when we could just re-sign Smart.
The remaining free agents are Larkin, Monroe, Bird, and Gibson.
Larkin: I like him. He puts up great effort and has had some really good nights. However, I think the signing of Wanamaker isn’t very promising towards Larkin’s future in Boston. Roster spots are being taken up and the guard spot is getting very bunched up.
Monroe: He was good in the beginning of his career in Boston, but he just can’t guard anyone. That’s it. He’ll have a bigger role on a different team.
Bird: He was good for us towards the end of the season. I was really liking him. What is his future in Boston? I have no idea.
Gibson: Good shooter. Really good shooter. Good at getting to the basket. But again, roster spots are being taken up. He’ll be good on the Red Claws.
No fireworks should go off in the offseason this year (for the Celtics at least), but get excited, because this could be one entertaining offseason. I mean Austin Rivers getting traded? Who saw that coming? It’s just getting started.