What is Avery Bradley's next step?

USA TODAY Sports

The young guard is at somewhat of a crossroads this summer.

Chris Forsberg does a nice job of looking at Avery Bradley in his article today. He points out that this is Bradley's first summer where he can simply work on his game without having to worry about rehabbing his body after some injury. That's amazing in and of itself.

He also points out that he's got a big year ahead of him from a contract perspective.

Boston Celtics hope Avery Bradley will flourish in larger role - ESPN Boston

But this is also a big summer for Bradley because it amounts to a contract year. The 22-year-old guard is scheduled to earn $2.5 million next season in the fourth year of his rookie pact. A $3.6 million qualifying offer looms next offseason, but he will be a restricted free agent if that kicks in, and outside interest could force the Celtics to negotiate a longer-term deal or risk losing him to a deep-pocketed bidder.

Bradley is a big fan favorite in these parts, and for very good reason. The guy is a warrior who will play through anything and always, always gives his best effort - especially on defense (where he's one of the game's best). Those kinds of guys are rare in this league and can help any team win.

However, his problem has never been on the defensive side of the ball. His offense has been his Achilles Heel.

But Bradley struggled just as mightily offensively last season. Of all players with at least his 574 total offensive possessions, Bradley ranked 183rd out of 187 in points per possession, according to Synergy. While he would never admit it, his confidence eroded as he was forced to play de facto ball handler when starting backcourt partner Rajon Rondo tore his ACL in January, less than a month after Bradley had returned from his own rehab.

Those struggles were compounded in the playoffs when he struggled to stop Raymond Felton (who's probably a bad matchup for Bradley but the C's had nobody else to check him). If not for his strong finish in game 6, the postseason might have been a complete wash for him.

I'm a big believer in Bradley myself and I want him on this team for a long time, if only for his grit and work ethic. He's a Celtic in every sense of the word and he's one of the few guys besides Rondo who has real playoff experience in Boston and he will be able to share those experiences with his peers and younger teammates (and even some older ones).

That said, he's also a valuable trade chip. He's a bargain on his current deal and can be coupled with another contract to bring back great value in a trade. He also happens to play a position where the Celtics are overstocked at. I think he's the best of the bunch, so it isn't like he's "expendable," but the point is we've got options. I wouldn't go out and shop him around the league by any means. But you know teams that call the Celtics are going to ask about him and it would make sense for Danny Ainge to at least listen to offers for him and gauge his value on the market before signing him to an extension sometime in the next year.

That's probably the most likely scenario too. He clearly loves playing in Boston and with his injury history it might make sense to take the long term security over a slightly larger potential payday next summer (when anything can happen).

Regardless, I'm very much looking forward to seeing Bradley back on the court this Fall to see what he's added to his game and watch him take on a larger leadership role on this team. I love this line from him: "Nobody likes to work out with me because I work so hard in the offseason. Honestly." Awesome.

So what are your thoughts on him?

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