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Evaluating potential buyout targets for the Boston Celtics

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With the buyout market developing, who are the best candidates for the Celtics’ open roster spot?

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Washington Wizards Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The trade deadline has come and gone, and, as expected, the Celtics largely stood pat, opting only to move Jabari Bird from the roster in a trade to the Atlanta Hawks (who will waive him). As the dust settles and NBA teams sort through their spoils, we now shift into contract buyout season, and this is where the Celtics will do their work.

The Bird trade affords them an open 15th roster spot and they’re expected to use it; CelticsBlog’s own Keith Smith reports that they intend to bring someone in on a two-year deal with the intent to use the contract as a salary-matching piece in a potential trade for Anthony Davis this summer.

With this intent in mind, who are the players likely to find themselves available on this year’s buyout market, and what might their fit be with the Celtics this season?

Miami Heat v Boston Celtics Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Wayne Ellington

Shooting is one of those skills you can never have quite enough of and Ellington brings it in spades. He fell out of favor in Miami’s rotation this season, but he’s just a year removed from shooting 39% from behind the arc on a whopping 7.5 attempts per game (82% of his total shot attempts!) with the Heat during the 2017-18 season. He won’t bring much of anything else to the table, but you could do worse if you’re looking for a floor spacer and scoring threat off the bench.

Ellington is likely to be one of the hottest names on the buyout market this season, which would make bringing him to Boston a bit of a challenge. If he values playing time, the Celtics will also be a hard sell, as he would be very unlikely to find an uptick from the 21.3 minutes per game he saw in Miami this season as a part of the Celtics’ already crowded wing rotation.

Chicago Bulls v Boston Celtics Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

Robin Lopez

If the Celtics decide to prioritize bolstering their front court depth with the open roster spot, Lopez is arguably the best available target. He’s a savvy defender, a reasonably efficient scorer in the paint and an established veteran with a light seasoning of playoff experience. You might remember how much trouble he gave the front court of the 2016-17 Celtics in their six-game series win over Chicago in the first round.

This wouldn’t be the flashiest of signings, but that’s not what the buyout market is really about. Lopez would be a useful depth piece, and good insurance in the event Aron Baynes continues to struggle with his ongoing injury troubles.

Wes Matthews

For starters, it’s worth noting that Matthews reportedly has a deal in place with the Indiana Pacers.

Still, these things can change in a hurry, so Matthews is at least worth considering. Though he’s never quite returned to his original form after tearing his Achilles’ tendon in 2015, he’s rebounded fairly well as a three-and-D wing specialist, which is a role you can never have quite enough of. The main draw here is his 38% mark from deep on a healthy volume (six attempts per game) with the Mavericks. Coupled with passable (if unspectacular) defense on the wing, he could be a usable piece for a playoff team.

Markieff Morris

Of all the potential options for filling the Celtics’ final roster spot, reuniting the Morris twins certainly ranks as the funniest. Imagine the possibilities!

But in all seriousness, there’s perhaps a case to be made for bringing on Markieff, but it’s dependent on whether he can bounce back from what had been a disastrous season with the Wizards. After consecutive seasons with at least a 36% mark from behind the arc, Markieff is hitting just 33% of his threes this season, and he lacks a bit of the versatility that makes his brother so useful. His natural home is at the four, and the Wizards’ attempts to move him around the lineup generally proved unsuccessful.

If he’s going to play, you’re hoping the change of scenery brings him back to relevance. He’s also presently working his way back from a neck injury.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Washington Wizards Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Milos Teodosic

Much like Matthews, it feels as though Teodosic is already off the market, as he reportedly wants to return to the Euroleague rather than joining a new NBA team.

In the off chance Teodosic decides to pull a Nemanja Bjelica and course-correct back to the NBA, there’s a strong potential niche for him on the Celtics’ bench. With Smart now an entrenched member of the starting lineup, the second unit has suffered from a lack of primary initiators beyond Gordon Hayward — and no, Terry Rozier does not count. Teodosic can run the pick-and-roll and grease up the offense with his well-regarded passing ability. His career 38% mark from the three-point line would just be icing on the cake.

Carmelo Anthony

No.

Enes Kanter

I’ve noticed a bit of burgeoning interest in Kanter on social media following his release by the Knicks, so I just want to emphasize: Enes Kanter doesn’t particularly help the Celtics in any way. His counting stats are nice to look at, kind of — he’s averaging a double-double — but he’s a selfish scorer and one of the worst front court defenders in basketball. Opponents are shooting a whopping 63% against Kanter within six feet of the basket. The Celtics really have no need for a player with his flaws. Aron Baynes is a more impactful player in almost every phase of the game at this point.

After publicly lamenting his diminishing minutes in New York, I’m not sure Kanter would have a particular interest in joining the Celtics, either. Even assuming he cracks the rotation, he’d at best be splitting minutes with Baynes, and probably fall far short of even the 25.6 minutes per game he saw with the Knicks. This one isn’t a good match for either party involved.

NBA: New York Knicks at Brooklyn Nets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Beasley

Beasley is something of a long-standing joke among NBA fans for his generally aloof nature, but he’s honestly not all that bad. After being traded to the Milwaukee Bucks for the 2016-17 season, he embarked on one of the more impressive redemption arcs in recent NBA history, developing into a decent role player and generally positive locker room presence. That’s exactly what he’ll provide to whoever picks him up in the coming weeks.

He’ll just be providing it to someone other than the Boston Celtics, because the fit here doesn’t seem to make much sense.

Marcin Gortat

This is the “break glass in case of front court desperation” option of this year’s buyout market. Gortat is a tough guy who does a lot of the little things — quality screens, good rolls to the rim — but he’s now 34 years old and just hasn’t been particularly good this year. Much love to the Polish Hammer, but he’s probably not going to make an on-court impact for a playoff team.

Zach Randolph

The venerable Z-Bo is one of the elder statesmen of the NBA at 37 years old, and by all accounts would be a quality locker room presence for any team. That said, he didn’t make it onto the court a single time for the up-and-coming young Kings, and with the Celtics looking to offer a two-year deal with the intent to put it towards matching salary in a Davis deal, Randolph probably isn’t a match here.

NBA: Sacramento Kings-Media Day Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Frank Kaminsky

Kaminsky barely saw the court for the Charlotte Hornets this season, playing just 11 minutes on average in his 24 games, and was waived after failing to garner interest in trade negotiations. His primary advantage on the buyout market is that he’s one of the youngest players reportedly available, at 26 years old. He’s not an utter loss on the offensive end as a legitimate seven-footer with some shooting range, but his defensive limitations will keep him outside the rotation of all but the worst teams. He’s never averaged more than 0.6 steals or 0.5 blocks per game.

Ben McLemore

McLemore is just 26 years old with a decent three-point shot, but is a disastrous weakness on the defensive end.

In other words, he’s the guard equivalent to Kaminsky.

Poll

Who would you like the Celtics to target with their open roster spot?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    Wayne Ellington
    (498 votes)
  • 41%
    Robin Lopez
    (2165 votes)
  • 23%
    Markieff Morris
    (1248 votes)
  • 2%
    Milos Teodosic
    (110 votes)
  • 2%
    Carmelo Anthony
    (134 votes)
  • 10%
    Enes Kanter
    (533 votes)
  • 1%
    Michael Beasley
    (98 votes)
  • 2%
    Marcin Gortat
    (151 votes)
  • 1%
    Zach Randolph
    (99 votes)
  • 3%
    Frank Kaminsky
    (183 votes)
  • 0%
    Ben McLemore
    (40 votes)
5259 votes total Vote Now