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Mailbag answers - so many backup center questions

Who will the Celtics sign to be the backup big? (repeat)

2022 NBA Finals Practice and Media Availability Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

There was a lot of repetition in the mailbag questions this time, so to save time I’m going to combine them into categories and answer them together.

The backup center questions:

Kubers - Who’s your best guess for who we sign as back-up 5? (not who you’d like necessarily, but who you think).

TOFTT - Would you please list perhaps the four most complete possibilities as an addition to the center, or 4/5 position. I am interested in ability for rooting purposes, not most affordable possibilities.

TimothyK - What is better for the C’s rotation, two bigs or slide one of the guards into the starting lineup? Separate question, they’ve already said the plan is still two bigs to start, will that be happening still by January?

hurdler17 - What do the C’s (Brad, Ime, Tatum) need to do to make sure Brown doesn’t walk? Are there any rumors out there about his satisfaction here?

Nemam Nabytek - Why no buzz about Cody Zeller? He’s got good lateral movement and plenty of offensive skill. Seems like a good 2nd-string center.

ALittleBitOfSocialism - My version of the backup big question is: since Udoka seems to prefer playing guys who fit his defense, out of all the names that have been floated as a minimum-salary big that the Celtics might be able to sign, who are the best fits for the switch-heavy defensive system?

Mitch’s Dad - How would you feel about signing Aaron Baynes? Even if he cannot play a single minute, I would sign him for a Udonis Haslem type role. It is just one roster spot (and whoever fills it won’t get more than garbage time minutes), and it would be making a statement to the team that management cares about them. Plus, maybe he can still play!.

Ok, there are a lot of ways this backup center position could play out. I’ll lay out some of the options (in no particular order):

They head into the season with roughly this roster. Perhaps signing someone on a 2-way contract, but nobody with more experience than Luke Kornet, making him essentially our 3rd center. This isn’t ideal, but it kicks the can down the road a few months till the trade deadline (or whenever the smaller TPEs run out) to let the team see exactly what kinds of needs they have on the roster and how to devote their resources to filling those holes.

They add a veteran big man willing to accept a vet minimum deal. This could be a ring-chasing vet or a guy that hasn’t panned out elsewhere that could benefit from a change of scenery. It could also be a guy from overseas that we’ve never heard of before (the Daniel Theis special). Yes, I could also see Aron Baynes as an option, but he’ll obviously have to prove that he can still play. If memory serves, he was losing a step even before his scary injury.

They trade for a big man, either using a portion of the TPE or perhaps by including Payton Pritchard in a deal. This would likely need to be an ideal addition (not just some flyer on a guy) because it would mean the owners are paying even more luxury tax. I know, I know, “not my money” and “Brad has the green light” but spending way over the tax on a 3rd string center doesn’t seem like the best investment. Not ruling it out, but the guy better be a lot better than Kornet or why bother?

In terms of names, I’ll refer you to the hard work that Keith Smith did on this article.

2022 NBA Finals - Game Six Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

The Jaylen Brown questions:

GetBuckets12 - Besides money, what will it take to get Jaylen to sign an extension?

Dadtrip 1 - I wholeheartedly agree that the negative/trade comments re Brown are inappropriate. W/O him there would have been no Finals appearances. Ownership should own up to his value!

TOFTT - Sports Hub is stating that Brown is leaving in two years. Should I just enjoy him and hope he remains, or start to wonder as to whether it is best to trade.

I’ll say off the top that I don’t know what to make of the Jaylen Brown rumblings. I haven’t heard a news source that I trust talking about him being unhappy, but then again, sometimes these things start out that way and snowball from there. Sometimes the story becomes self-fulfilling. If you ask me, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion right now if it wasn’t for Kevin Durant upsetting the fruit basket by demanding a trade. It isn’t just in Boston either. Fans in Toronto, New Orleans, Miami, and others are all having knock down, drag-out debates over players they would or would not ever include in a trade for KD. That just happens sometimes.

The thing I come back to is that the answer is still the same. Build a winning culture, treat Brown with respect and love, pay him the most money he can get on the market, and hope that everything works out for the best. If not, then we’ve done everything we can and you hope you can move him in a trade or sign-and-trade if it ever comes to that.

I don’t think Brown will agree to an extension this offseason because (due to CBA quirks) if he waits till he’s a free agent, he can get more. That doesn’t mean he will leave, it just means we’ll likely have to wait to see how this plays out.

Other questions:

Kubers - Does the Brogdon trade make DWhite at all expendable? Or are their skills sets completely different and/or complementary?

Technically yes, but I’d argue that the whole point of having Derrick White and Malcolm Brogdon and Marcus Smart is in the aggregate they are more than the sum of their parts. That’s just wave after wave of fresh legs (or injury insurance) that are plus defenders, ball movers, and streaky shooters that keep defenses honest. I would say that they are complimentary in that each tends to specialize in different aspects of the game, which allows Ime to mix and match according to matchups and situation. They can also guard up and down a position, so there’s really room for them all. I love having all 3 on the team and I see it as a major strength for this team next year.

Kevin Lenihan - What is expert assessment of Hauser’s defensive potential? Is he athletic and quick enough to guard 2’s and 3’s? Is he rugged and strong enough to guard 4’s?

Defense is not likely ever going to be a major strength in his game, but he has the ability to be a good positional player that allows the other plus-defenders on the team to do their job. Meaning if a ball handler drives into the lane, Hauser may not be able to stop him one-on-one, but if he’s in the right spot, it will change the dribbler’s angle, which could push him right into Rob Williams’ air space, or slow him down enough for Marcus Smart to cobra-snatch the ball out of his hands. With a shot like Hauser has, they’ll look for any rationale to get him on the court. He just has to be not-terrible on defense and move the ball when he doesn’t have the shot.

Boston Celtics v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Celtics65 - What will Gallinari’s role be? Obviously he is an asset at one end of the court, and a liability on the other. Players like that have a spotty history here in Boston. What makes Gallinari different?

Bombs away. See all my Sam Hauser comments above and apply them to Gallo. The guy is a proven bucket who will space the floor. He’s not going to be darting around 3 sets of screens like Steph Curry does, but he also doesn’t have to. He’ll be the 3rd or 4th option on the court and as the defense collapses on a Tatum or Brown or Brogdon drive, he’ll be ready to catch and shoot all day long. Again, he won’t be a defensive stopper, and that will be an issue in the playoffs. But for your typical Tuesday night against your average NBA team, he’ll do just fine launching away from deep.

Thanks again for the questions everyone! Enjoy Summer League!