Welcome (once again) to the offseason. I wanted to kick things off with a mailbag, and a few of you provided questions (thank you!!!). Of course a lot more of you decided to make statements, so what do you need me for? Seriously though, the comment sections are there for you to use as you like, so keep doing what you do (while respecting each other and being good people).
Still, let’s look at the questions you provided and the answers that I attempted. Results may vary.
Jeff, you are on deck. Swing for the fences (Beal, or similar) or bunts and singles (shore up bench)?
You know as well as I do that Brad preaches hitting singles. That’s not to say that he won’t try to make solid contact on a hanging curve or stretch a gap single into a double. I may have exhausted all my baseball metaphors there.
The point is, I don’t see any big star trade happening (in part because of the outgoing salaries necessary) unless there’s a sweetheart deal out there that we just can’t say “no” to.
So let’s address the Bradley Beal shaped elephant in the room. Yes, he and Tatum are besties from way back. Yes, the topic of playing together has probably come up in the past. But how does that happen in Boston? Just to match salaries, you have to start with either Jaylen Brown (plus another medium sized salary) or you have to start with Al Horford and add even more salary. I currently see Jaylen Brown as more valuable than Beal (who has not proven that he can play defense at all) and I don’t want to break up the core that just went to the Finals anyway.
If you are starting from a package including Al Horford and future picks, I tend to think that another interested team could out-bid us fairly easily. About the only way this happens (as dangercart and others have repeatedly mentioned) is if Beal specifically demands a trade to Boston and will only re-sign with Boston (and maybe a couple other unrealistic teams).
To sum up: I understand why this topic keeps coming up. However, the situation hasn’t substantially changed from all the other times we haven’t traded for him. So I don’t see it happening.
Putting Beal aside, Brad Stevens may decide that we are one medium sized move away from entering next year as the team to beat. I don’t have any names in mind (yet) but I’m thinking of a solid starter who could also come off the bench if necessary.
What’s the possibility Stevens reunites with Ainge and takes the Utah Jazz job?
Again, I understand why the question would be brought up (Marc Stein even brought it up and immediately shot it down). Stevens has only been away from coaching for 1 year, has only done the POBO thing for 1 year, and has thus far achieved very good results (though not the ultimate prize yet). I’d be shocked if he didn’t give this at least a couple more years.
Questions for you:
1. Nik Stauskas, Brodric Thomas, Malik Fitts, Juwan Morgan, Luke Kornet...buh-bye?
Not at all. At least not yet. Bring as many of them back for training camp that want to be there. If we can add better options deep on the bench, then some of them will be cut or let go somehow. But one or more of them just might be one of those diamond in the rough guys we see emerge from time to time.
2. Will they give Nesmith meaningful game minutes consistently so he has a chance to develop? Or is he no longer in the future plan?
I think we’ll know more about this when we see if they pick up his rookie option or not. If they do, then they clearly think he has value (either for us or in a trade). If not, then you could see him either play out the year as a pending free agent or offloaded in a trade of some sort.
Personally I’m pulling for him, but I admit that the early results have been less than encouraging.
3. Will Brad go against type and try to acquire another pick in Thursday’s draft, or move up in it? Or will he follow his past inclinations and either stay at #53 or even trade that one?
I think the focus will be on adding to the core in a way that would give us a chance to win the title next season. Rookies don’t often move the needle in that regard, so I wouldn’t expect him to be aggressive trying to get into the first round. Unless of course it is a bridge deal to add a pick to a trade that brings back an impact player. But you never know.
4. Will any of those legendary TPEs ever amount to anything real?
If there ever was a chance to use them, it would be now. The team doesn’t have a lot of different avenues to add talent (no first rounder, no cap room) so using a TPE in a trade would be a pretty straightforward way of doing it.
Doing so would put this team deep into the tax, but the ownership group ducked the tax for another season this year and have said they would pay the tax for a contender. Might just be time to pay up on that promise.
I will allow for one caution: Brad won’t (and shouldn’t) use the TPE just to add a guy for the sake of doing it. Fit has to matter and it has to be the right deal. Otherwise you could be putting the team in a difficult spot for years to come.
5. We need both center and power forward backups that are better (in terms of both talent and fit) than the possible ones on our current roster...how do we get them?
Theoretically backup bigs are always available. The theory goes that you either pay big bucks to the superstars (Embiid, Jokic) or just fill out the roster with low-cost options. None of the low-cost options is going to be a perfect fit, but neither are the expensive mid-range guys, so why not roll the dice on the cheaper option and spend your cap room elsewhere?
Look for vet min guys to get a long look in Boston. With Horford aging and Rob Williams being an injury risk, there’s at least a regular season role that could expand if the right guy comes along.
6. What is Daniel Theis’s role going forward?
Daniel is what he is at this point. A decent option as a backup big (though a little pricey - see above). He could also be a salary filler on a trade.
7. Do we manage to find any free agents that are going to be a cut above the Tristan Thompson/Jeff Teague/Enes Kanter type signings?
Again, I sure hope so. For one thing, we were just in the Finals, so ring-chaser vets will at least give the Celtics a longer look this year. There’s clearly opportunity here too. On the other hand, the Celtics can’t compete for the best free agents with the money that they’ll have to spend. So it may take some time for that to play out.
8. Is Sam Hauser going to have any success with the Celtics or will he have to go elsewhere to find it?
He could absolutely find a role on the team going forward. With a strong showing in Summer League and training camp, he should very much be on the roster with a chance at earning a rotation spot. The guy can flat out shoot and if he can do anything else on the court to contribute, then he’ll get a chance.
Here are two to work with:
1.) Seeing Marcus Smart as the player he was this season, do you think he has another level to go to on offense and playmaking wise? Or do you think the celtics would consider selling high on him given we have Derrick White which approximates 85% of what Smart gives?
Good question. I would have been more on board with the 85% plan if the team continued struggling like they did at the beginning of the season. That was part of the beauty of that trade - it worked for whichever direction the team was heading.
However, with the success the team had, built in large part on the defensive identity which Marcus was a huge part of, I don’t see the team moving on from him at all.
He has his limitations of course, we all know them by heart at this point. But the pluses far outweigh the negatives in my mind and it will be up to Ime and his teammates to bring the best out of him on offense next season.
2nd) Do you view Kyle Kuzma as a gettable player and how would he fit on the Celtics?
Yes, I want this to happen if only so one of the Celtics beat writers can ask Kuzma about this Lakers graphic from back in the day.