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Mailbag Answers: A very Avery Bradley episode

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With a side order of Marcus Smart

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

A lot of questions in the mailbag centered around our big free agent of the summer Avery Bradley.  So I figured I'd spend some time answering the questions about him.  As you'll see, the signing of Lance Stephenson in Charlotte and the team's drafting of Marcus Smart also factor a great deal into people's questions.

bmac934 How do you honestly feel about the Avery Bradley signing when we could have potential given Lance Stephenson only $1 million more per season? With Lance Stephenson we could have been a playoff team.

Honestly, I'm fine with it.  I think both are "injury prone" to a certain extent, but I think Bradley's injuries are the kind that a medical doctor can diagnose and treat while Lance might need psychiatrist (or at least a healthy dose of maturity that may or may not ever come).

Lance aside, I think we might have paid about the same for Bradley had we let the market dictate the price.  Locking him up for 4 years means that if he keeps improving his shooting and/or offense without a drastic dip in his defense, then we'll have an excellent player with a great attitude for years to come.

The risk, obviously, is that he could continue to get hurt more often than we'd like or worse suffer a major injury.  But I think you factor that risk into any free agent signing or trade.  I love his approach to the game and he's one of the few remaining carry-overs from the Pierce/KG era.  I'm a fan so I'm happy he's staying for what I believe is about his market price.

Dan What was Danny Ainge thinking by signing Avery Bradley to such a lucrative deal when he just drafted Marcus Smart and there were options like Lance Stephenson still on the market?

Since I already addressed Stephenson above, I'll focus on the Smart part.  I'm not sure if Bradley and Smart are all that linked together - for a number of reasons.  First of all, I think each decision was based more on value than what actually makes sense on the court.

Marcus Smart was most likely the highest rated prospect on the board when the Celtics picked.  I think if Embiid slipped or if Aaron Gordon were there, each would have been selected ahead of Smart.  But they weren't and we couldn't find a trade that made sense, so Smart was the pick.  Period, the end.  I don't think it really impacts how the Celtics view Bradley or what they hope to do with Rajon Rondo.

Bradley was signed because he was deemed a good value at the price they were able to get for him.  They could have let him walk for nothing, but then they'd get nothing for him in return and they wouldn't have had much additional cap room to go out and pick up anyone else of note this offseason.  They still have the option of trading him during the season or next offseason if they can get value for him.  But I really don't think his contract will hinder their cap flexibility too much next year or in the following years.

djlives I am extremely concerned about our lack of shooting in the backcourt as things stand now. I get it... Avery can shoot ""ish"" and is on the rise offensively but what is going to stop opposing defenses from collapsing in the point and taking away the pick and roll/penetration.

Ahhh, there's the rub.  I'm also concerned with spacing and shooting in general.  The Spurs showed us how powerful ball movement and knock down shooters can be in an NBA offense.  I believe something similar is what coach Stevens has in mind long term, but as of now he doesn't have the pieces.  Our backcourt of the present is Rondo, Bradley, and Smart (with a sprinkling of Thornton and maybe Evan Turner).  Of the three main pieces, Bradley is probably the best outside shooter and that isn't a good thing.  Which brings us to the next question:

Terrier Green Do you see a backcourt comprised of Rajon Rondo, Marcus Smart, and Avery Bradley working out in the long term? If so, would either Smart or Bradley (more likely the latter) be okay with serving in more a of a "sixth man" role than starter? And would it even make financial sense for the Celtics?

In short, no.  Unless someone improves their outside shot dramatically (which is possible if not terribly probable) I'm not sure if this lineup works long term.  I think Smart might be the easiest to move for value right now but then again, he might turn out to be better than Bradley long term, so you'd hate to lose him for anything less than another excellent young player.

Since they signed him before having to match his contract in the restricted free agency game, the Celtics have the option of moving Bradley (as mentioned above).  And yes, there's a chance that Rajon Rondo could be moved, though I think we've covered that angle adequately and I still believe it to be a small chance at the moment.  Still, eventually something has to give for this team to take a big step forward.

Then again, I think that adequately describes the entire Celtics lineup.  Its an accumulation of assets more than it is a cohesive unit.  That's a bigtime challenge to put on Brad Stevens since he actually has to try to manufacture wins and develop the talent at the same time.  Perhaps his experience in the college game (with the annual roster turnover and developmental projects) is what made him so ideal for this phase of the rebuilding process.  But at some point, Ainge has to give him top talent pieces that fit together for him to win in this league.  It just might not happen this year.