As it stands right now, the Celtics have 11 guaranteed contracts:
Ball handlers: Kyrie Irving, Terry Rozier, Brad Wanamaker
Wings: Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Jalen Brown, Marcus Morris
Bigs: Al Horford, Aron Baynes, Guerschon Yabusele, Robert Williams III
Marcus Smart is still in restricted free agency limbo and Daniel Theis and Semi Ojeleye’s contracts don’t guarantee until July 10th and 15th. If everybody returns, that’s 14 of 15 roster spots filled. Abdel Nader, who’s recovering from wrist surgery and won’t be playing in Summer League, is non-guaranteed until August 1st.
In terms of cap space and exceptions--depending on whether or not Marcus Smart signs and for how much--could still have the non-tax payer mid-level exception (MLE). Hard cap concerns aside, Danny Ainge could wait until the buyout market or a trade later this summer or add a veteran as free agency creeps into Week 2.
Let’s shop for leftovers from the best available free agents:
The reunion: Keith was the first to make the Isaiah Thomas suggestion:
Isaiah Thomas quickly became an all-time favorite Celtic. His all-out style, combine with his “take no crap” attitude and small stature made him the exact kind of underdog Boston fans love. He was transcendent in green for a couple of years. His time as a Celtic ended with him being dealt for Kyrie Irving, while rehabbing an injured hip and left some hard feelings. But asked recently on Twitter if he’d ever come back to Boston, Thomas responded “You never know!”
He’s reportedly negotiating a deal with the Orlando Magic, a team without a point guard where IT will get a ton of opportunity to get his value back to Brinks truck level. However, if he wants to join a contender, there’s no better place than Boston. He could join a second unit that’s starving for offensive production. The foursome of Marcus Morris-Terry Rozier-Marcus Smart-Daniel Theis had an offensive rating of 98.3 during the regular season. In Thomas, they’d be adding a former MVP candidate who averaged nearly 29 points and 6 assists two seasons ago in green. It’s not exactly adding DeMarcus Cousins, but if IT can round back into form by the All Star break, he could be the “mid-season” addition the Celtics need to make a deep push into the playoffs.
Shane Larkin also remains a possibility to shore up the back court.
The insurance policy: Even though the Celtics will be returning a healthy Daniel Theis and added rookie/pogo stick Robert Williams III, there’s still room for a veteran big (not unlike Greg Monroe last year). Enter Brook Lopez. He’s still an effective player in the paint, but more importantly, he can approximate Al Horford’s production around the elbow and on the perimeter. Over the last two seasons in Brooklyn and Los Angeles, Lopez has shot 34.6% from behind the arc and is a solid free throw shooter.
Luc Mbah A Moute could add some wing depth, too.
The change-up: There have been rumblings that there’s friction between Jabari Parker and the now Giannis Antetokounmpo-lead Bucks. The former #2 pick would be a great fit in new head coach Mike Budenholzer’s system, but after adding Ersan Ilyasova via free agency and Donte DiVencenzo clouds Parker’s outlook in Milwaukee. Remember when Evan Turner signed with the Celtics to revamp his career? The same could happen with Parker. It’s Parker’s prerogative as to whom he’d sign an offer sheet with and regardless of the dollar amount, it’s possible that the Bucks wouldn’t match simply because they don’t see him in their future.
Ainge could also look to add a veteran shooter. For the most part, the Celtics have shied away from one-dimensional players, but guys like Jamal Crawford and Wayne Ellington could round out the back end of the roster.