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Mailbag answers for end of Celtics preseason

Small sample size theater alert

Boston Celtics v Orlando Magic Photo by Gary Bassing/NBAE via Getty Images

Last mailbag before the season starts. So let’s knock these out before everything we say becomes obsolete.

greenwashing

Grant Williams has looked surprisingly playable in the preseason. Has he shown enough to see regular rotation minutes? Will he be able to guard on the perimeter when the competition picks up?

Great way to start this off. Grant gets a lot of flack online and I don’t understand it. He didn’t have a great year last year, so I understand where some of the frustration comes from. But the vitriol aimed at him simply seems misplaced. When he was drafted 22nd overall, no sane person envisioned him becoming a star. He was a heady but undersized guy with intangibles and an upside of “serviceable rotation guy.”

Last year he was forced into a bigger role than he should have been given due to injuries. All he should be asked to do is be a competent 10th or 11th man. That means playing good defense, setting screens, and hitting the occasional open 3’s when the ball swings to him. In short, the bar should be low. And if he doesn’t hit that bar, he’s a low cost guy on a rookie contract.

I still have hope that he can provide the Celtics with useful production off the bench. He’s never going to fill up stat sheets, but I could see him becoming a fill-in-the-gaps type of guy that coaches love.

passpassshoot

any trade that doesnt involve the usual suspects(lillard, simmons, beal) that could unfold during the season?

Onemoretimewithfeeling

Who gets traded at the deadline and for whom?

A couple of you asked about trades so I’ll double up my answer here.

First of all, I’ll point out that the Celtics have a 3 reasonable sized TPEs that they could use this season.

  • $5M for Kemba Walker that expires 5/17/22
  • $9.7M for Tristan Thompson that expires 7/7/22
  • $17.1M for Evan Fournier that expires 7/17/22

It is more likely that they don’t use any of those to add more salary because it would jack up the luxury tax bill. On the other hand, Brad made a lot of the flexibility that the team focused on this offseason and they have these options if the right deal comes around.

Beyond that, the team has a lot of medium sized (ie. movable) contracts that they could use to match salaries (something they largely lacked in years past).

Finally, they have all their own first round draft picks, so if they wanted to get creative with draft compensation, they can.

I don’t have any named targets for you, but there’s always another disgruntled star out there or a team that performs under expectations that is looking to offload salary by the trade deadline. So stay tuned.

Vic Maine

Brown & Tatum had the luxury of being thrown into the fire very early on. Aaron & Romeo & Bob (Payton & Grant?) did not have that same developmental luxury. I’m actually very happy with the Josh & Dennis additions, BUT I’m very concerned that their minutes will greatly impede development of our awesome young guns.. I feel like we’re in a half-***ed (win-now vs development) mode that’s going to undermine both.. What is the balance; how do we win now without sacrificing our awesome young talent (developmentally)?

Tatum and Brown had to earn their playing time as much as anyone. They are just elite talents that hit their stride faster than most. Aaron, Romeo, Pritchard, and Grant; those guys are all a tier or two below. So it is understandable that they might need more time to earn their minutes.

With that said, I think Nesmith and Pritchard are going to force their way into playing time sooner than later. Even if it means taking time away from Richardson and others. There’s going to be situations where Romeo and Grant will have to be ready as well.

I think you can build and contend at the same time. In fact, I’d say that most great teams have to do at least a little of both. If the kids are good enough, they’ll get their chances.

GSWBlew3-1Lead

Double big or starting either one of Aaron or Romeo? Ime talked about Dennis and Josh like they are bench players so i think this is what it’s going to boil down to.

Both? I think we’ll start the season with double bigs but I’ve gone on record predicting that Nesmith will be starting by Christmas.

When it comes to the double bigs, I think the rationale is pretty straightforward. Our best 5 players are Smart, Brown, Tatum, Horford, and Rob Williams. So start them. It isn’t like the traditional bigs of old that stood on either block and waited for a guard to feed them the ball. Horford can stretch to the 3 point line and Rob sets pick at the free throw line and dives to the rim.

With all that said, shooting rules in this league and I feel like we can get more spacing with Nesmith on the floor. We’ll see though. I’ll probably be wrong more often than not.

TimothyK

How many games will rotation players miss due to COVID this year? Will the C’s be above average, below or at average for missed COVID games?

The only hope is that we’re getting our COVID cases out of the way in preseason. But who knows?

Which young player would be most beneficial to this team if he became full time what we have seen flashes of? Romeo, Grant, or Nesmith? (Timelord doesn’t count because he’s the obvious answer)

Nesmith’s best case is a deadeye shooter that also can attack closeouts with 3 level scoring. Oh, and a high energy, disruptive defense guy. So give me that upside over Romeo or Grant. Maybe Romeo can be a defensive specialist who can handle the ball and keep people honest from 3. As much as I like Grant, his upside is pretty much Udonis Haslem with more shooting. Which isn’t too shabby.

33 In Green

1: Will fans ever get over the idea of gutting this team to make a trade for Beal?

2: What does your clairvoyance channel as a realistic trade to help this team win #18 (who stays and who goes)?

There will always be another star that fans will convince themselves is the next big target for this team. Beal just seems more realistic because of the Tatum connection.

Realistic trade ideas don’t win banners and realistic trade ideas are boring. Seriously, if you are saying “realistic” that probably means eliminating stars from consideration and if you want to talk championships you have to add stars. So I don’t know if I can help you here.

If the Beal situation doesn’t develop, we can always keep an eye on KAT and Donavan Mitchell and Zach Lavine.

Duerod81

I think we’ve all been impressed with the level of effort Aaron Nesmith has put forth night in and night out since becoming a Celtic. And from watching the preseason games I am impressed with his offseason development. But when on draft night most comments were directed at his long range shooting ability. I’m curious to hear what you think his ceiling may be as a three point weapon. Are we looking at the possibility of a Duncan Robinson or J.J. Redick, or should our expectations be more tempered?

See above - I’m already very high on Nesmith. I think his college 3 point averages were not sustainable, but shooting should very much be a strength. And like I said, he has flashed an ability to do some damage in the midrange as well.

FrDrake

How likely do you see it that Stevens does his bosses a solid and sneaks below the luxury tax this year (even though we are not supposed to care about billionaire’s money).? With the massive tax payments from teams like the Nets and Warriors, it will cost the Cs owners the distribution to the non-tax teams plus what they would actually pay. I see a scenario where they make a deal with a team like OKC to take Jauncho’s contract (non-guaranteed, next season) at the deadline for $3 million cash and a protected second rounder. It could be a $15 or 20 million dollar swing in the ownership’s favor and help with future tax payment and would cost them only 1/2 a season of play from their 11th or 12th man.

I wouldn’t rule it out, but I don’t know how much pressure he’ll be under to dip below that line. I’ll say that if they can get it done without compromising the team’s success, they’ll certainly consider it. Maybe they make a deal to dump Bruno’s contract and leave a roster spot open or something. Or maybe they make a deal at the deadline that sends out more money than it takes back but still maintains or improves the talent level. I just don’t think they’ll take an obvious step back for financial reasons.

hurdler17

How do the Celtics compare with the EC 2nd Tier: PHI, MIA, NYK, CHI

Make or Break players

Make the Leap players

Best/Worst new player

Pick a Camp: Drafted players <3yrs or Newly acquired vets

The Celtics should be right in the mix with all those teams. I think we have a shot at 3rd or 4th in the East.

It sounds boring but health is the make or break element here. So aside from the obvious stars I’m looking at Horford, Rob Williams and Marcus Smart. If any of them misses significant time, it puts the team in a talent hole.

Sticking with Nessmith as a leap guy. Pritchard already established a solid floor, but he could take a step up as well.

Best new player is Horford until father time catches up with him (let’s hope for a few more years). Worst new player? I guess whoever gets the 15th roster spot. The popular answer here would be Grant or Kanter I guess. But I’ve already talked about Grant above and I think Kanter is a solid role player if and when you need rebounding.

Thanks everyone for the great questions! Here’s to a great season of Celtics basketball!