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Mailbag answers: Grant Williams, Blake Griffin, and of course the backup centers

Do the Celtics have the right depth at CENTER?

NBA: Preseason-Boston Celtics at Charlotte Hornets Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

I asked for mailbag questions, and you guys came through! Thank you for these!


Who do you want on the floor with the Celtics inbounding with ten seconds left in the fourth quarter, down three?

Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Malcolm Brogdon, Grant Williams, and Al Horford. I’m tempted to sub Payton Pritchard or Sam Hauser for one of those guys, but I think I just trust the named guys more.


Assuming that a Grant Williams extension is going to happen, how much does his preseason performance impact the price tag? Has he made himself any extra money over the past 3 games? If so, how much?

I hesitate to say that it means nothing, because I’m sure the team factors everything into the equation. However, I think they have access to a lot more information than we do because they see him practice, know his commitment to improving his game, how he fits in the locker room, and a host of other things that teams use to evaluate players.

So a solid preseason matters, I just don’t think the Celtics are really all that surprised with how he’s performed.

c’s the day

Do we have the right depth at CENTER?

Good question!

I’d say that the backup-center-by-committee thing is probably a perfectly fine band-aid for the first couple of months of the season. I’d feel better if a legit, reliable, proven center was on the roster, not just for the first few months, but to spell Horford and Williams down the stretch. But I get that there are limited resources and it is worth seeing if any of the options on the team works out first before making another move.


Why does the NBA not have minor league teams like the MBL. This is crazy with all the movement, cuts, and questions this time of year.

The only way a “true” minor league would develop is if the teams were willing to funnel more guaranteed money to the players in the G-League. Few players are going to lock themselves into a “minor league” contract if there’s more lucrative potential landing spots elsewhere.

All of Australia

I’m still waiting for the pre-udoka situation mailbag Jeff. Can you believe it’s less than 4 weeks since that all blew up. How do you think the team and management have handled things so far? Either way, do you think it will negatively impact on the team after a resolution is reached and it hits the media cycle again?

Without knowing all the facts, it is very hard to say if the Celtics handled things well or not. From what we know, it seems like they did the best they could given the unfortunate circumstances. It certainly could have a negative impact on the team, if only from the perspective that they lost the leader of last year’s team and have to adjust to a new guy.

Again, the players seems to be handling it about as well as you can expect, but it certainly has been a jarring situation and a distraction from the on-court goals.


Will Jayson finally escape from Deuce’s shadow or is he doomed to be second fiddle for the rest of his career?

I wonder who the youngest person was that received a key to the city. Do they still do that?

I hope they are both Celtics for life.


Since there is clearly no other competition out there, who will it be—will Grant Williams or Payton Pritchard make the all star game and win MIP?

If this is an understated joke: Well done.

If serious: You really need to watch some more games outside of Boston.

Side note on the MIP: I guess I get the idea behind giving it to Ja Morant last year. The thinking is that the hardest leap is from very good to truly great. With that said, I don’t think that was the original intent behind the award. I think of it as an award for someone who was not very relevant to becoming a real impact player or perhaps even an All Star. So Morant’s teammate Bane might have been a better choice.


Why didn’t Boston give Bol,Bol a chance? He is reaching up and disrupting post passes and blocking and rebounding like crazy in tonight’s exhibition against the Grizzlies.. His wingspan alone should have given us reason to keep him. Don’t say his injury was the reason, he’s playing now and Williams is out, (part time lord). I don’t get the thought process on this one.

The Celtics dumped Bol Bol last year in order to save on the luxury tax. He just wasn’t good enough to warrant much of a flyer. Not sure why Robert Williams is brought up as a comparison. The only thing they have in common is being tall.


Will there be an unexpected player pickup before the start of the season?

If they do, it will be ...unexpected. (see what I did there?)

How many all-stars will the C’s have this year?

Minimum of 2 or we riot. Maybe 3 if either Smart or Brogdon have a great start. Rob would be the other one, alas...

Who are the top Celtic candidates for awards: MVP, DPOY, MIP, 6th man?

Tatum is clearly our best hope at MVP. I’d love for Brown to get into the conversation but that would be a long shot.

Marcus just won DPOY but it already sounds like people will want to vote for someone else next time. Rob Williams would have been a good sleeper pick, alas...

In theory you could make a case for Grant getting MIP votes, but he was already solid last season.

Malcolm Brogdon is a great pick for 6th man. He has a real chance of winning it.

Will Derrick White finish the season with Boston? Any others that could be traded?

I think he’ll stick in Boston. They obviously saw real value in him last season and I think a deep rotation of guards that can defend is very valuable. With that said, if they wanted to make a move to improve elsewhere on the roster, they could use White or Pritchard in a deal, depending on what they are getting back.


In a couple of years, all of the Celtics core are going to have overlapping contracts. Add in Grant, and I’m wondering how you can sustain this:

Jayson: 250 million

Jaylen : 230 million

Marcus: 100 million

Robert: 100 million

Grant: 100 million

Obviously that’s only once new deals are signed and other guys are a couple years into a new deal, but that’s the money they’re going to be required to retain them. Is it feasible?

Well, for one thing, the new TV deal is probably going to raise overall payrolls significantly anyway. At some point Jayson and Jaylen will both be on max deals, so they’ll actually be measured by the percentage of the cap instead of set dollar figures. In fact, that’s the way you kind of have to think of these things these days.

With all that said, really good teams like the Celtics eventually do have to make some hard financial reasons. So you have to start looking for cheaper options to backfill players that either leave or get traded away. While I admire Brad for getting good players by trading draft picks, eventually he’s going to need to hang onto those picks and use them on young (cheap) talent.


Will coach Mazulla last the full season?

Man, I hope so. Otherwise something has gone terribly wrong.

Is this team complete or does Brad need to make additional trades to get to the finals?

When Robert Williams III returns from injury, I think this team has the talent to return to the Finals. If they suffer additional injuries, they may need to make a move.

Does Luke Kornet remind you of any centers from the 80’s and 90’s?

Not really because centers from the 80’s and 90’s didn’t shoot three pointers.


Will Brad hire another assistant coach for Joe to lean on, like maybe someone with previous head coaching experience? Or will he stand pat on that front?

Latest reports seem to indicate that he won’t be adding to his staff. He already has most of the staff from last year on the bench, so I guess we’ll see if that works.


Joe Mazulla. Will he make us forget about Ime?


If Joe does a great job will Ime return?

I don’t think Ime is returning to Boston under any circumstances. It is Joe’s job to lose at this point.

What does he bring to the table that Ime didn’t?

I don’t know Mazzulla well enough to say, but everyone seems very impressed with him.

The hope is that he’s a blend between Brad Stevens (detailed strategist) and Ime (accountability).

33 In Green

Will we finally see Jaylen Brown be valued equally to Jason Tatum in the hearts of Celtics Nation?

It would be great to never again hear about either being viewed as numbers 1 and 2, or 1A and 1B…

I think it is human nature to try to rank things and that is even more true in the world of sports. When you talk about players that are ranked the highest in the league, Tatum is generally considered better than Brown. With that said, they are teammates and they have different skill sets that compliment each other well. So at the end of the day, it matters less who is better and more how far they can go together. Their media day comments seem to indicate that they are on the same page and are willing to sacrifice personal accolades in order to win a Championship. If they do that, nobody is going to care how they rank.


Questions regarding a few guys.

I keep hearing how knockdown sam hausser has been. Can we expect him to be a real impact player throughout the season? maybe a duncan robinson type role?

That’s the idea. I’m not sure if Hauser will be as active off the ball as Robinson is, but he can move to open spots and catch and shoot. The key will be how well he plays defense. If he’s good enough to stay on the floor, they’ll use him as a stretch threat.

The only warning here is that (just like with Robinson) if the shot stops falling for some reason, he becomes a net negative and if the slump lasts for too long, he becomes unplayable.

What is a realistic expectation for blake griffin? I thought he was really solid against in the playoffs and steve nash should have given him more time.

There are some matchups where Blake just won’t be able to play and thrive at this point in his career. Jaylen Brown torched him time and again in those playoffs in part because Nash didn’t have any other options to turn to. However, there were moments when he gave them a spark.

I think he’ll have limited opportunities in Boston, but in short stints he could give the team a few minutes of solid play. He certainly won’t feel overwhelmed by the situation or lost on the court as a younger player might.

Finally, Luke Kornet. Will he be able to fill rob wills role while he is out? obviously they have different skill sets but how much of a hit will the defense specifically rim protection take with luke playing in his stead?

As you say, they play different styles, but the Celtics were going to have to mix in more defensive looks anyway. Kornet is more of a drop defender who can get good position in the paint but can’t chase guards around the perimeter. You might see more of Al Horford or even Grant Williams playing the roaming center position the way that Rob did last year.


Serious: Do you think JT’s tendency to start games slow is related to JB’s tendency to start games hot, and, vice versa, when the 4th quarter comes along?

Good question: I don’t know if one causes the other per se. I think that Tatum sort of lets the game come to him at first while Brown seems to have a mission as soon as he hits the floor. With that said, maybe Tatum knows that Brown likes to get involved early and he lets him cook before taking over.

Funny(ish): Who costs the C’s more games this season, Zach Zarba or Tony Brothers?

[Tommy Heinsohn exasperated sigh]

Goofy: Which will we see more of this season, changes in personnel at the end of the bench or hair styles/colors from MS?

Give me all the hairstyle options from Smart. I love it. Jaylen is more low key about it but he likes to switch up the braids quite a bit.


Who do you think will be the biggest surprise-positive or negative-for the Celtics this season?

I think the average fan is going to be surprised by how quickly Sam Hauser becomes a key part of the rotation. The shot seems real and they need depth on the wing, so I think he’ll play a lot.

Likewise, the average fan is probably going to be disappointed by how little we see Blake Griffin (or by how limited he is at this point in his career).

For deeper cuts, I think people are going to gain a greater appreciation for Derrick White this season. He’ll be more comfortable in the system with a full camp and preseason (not to mention a long playoff run) under his belt.

On the downside, I’m trying to keep my own expectations managed on the backup center-by-committee crew. I hope that one or more of those guys can step up and over-perform, but I’m not holding my breath.

Thanks again for the questions. Let’s do this again after a few regular season games.

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