This is part 2 of the mailbag answers. See the Jaylen Brown answers here.
[I’ve never asked a question before, but I’ll give it a try by asking three...]
1. Since we seem to be poaching assistants from our Eastern rivals, why stop now... Who on the Miami Heat staff would be best suited to help this team get over the hump and return to the Finals? (I know it won’t be his head assistant, Chris Quinn.)
Short answer is that I haven’t the foggiest idea which other assistant coaches could be changing teams. I admit I had my eye on Dave Joerger as a potential hire for the Celtics, especially once he didn’t get a head coaching job. But I’m not sure if he would accept a role on the Celtics where he’s not the Lead Assistant. So I guess we’ll see.
2. If Brown is extended, GW is re-signed (matched), and Muscala has his CO picked up, the Cs will essentially run back the exact same roster... With that in mind, what would be considered a successful 2023-24? Does it have to end in a title to continue with this group of guys, will another ECF flameout or less lead to changes, or we will stay with the status quo until players’ contracts (Brogdon, White, Horford) start coming up in two years?
I could cop out and say that every situation is different and we’d have to see what led to the team not winning a title before deciding on what to do with the roster. However, given the way the CBA is going to become increasingly punitive to high salary teams, I think we may see some significant changes to the roster next offseason win or lose.
3. What is a realistic trade for PP? Feel free to throw in some 2nds or even a bench player like Kornet or Muscala. Can a package built around PP bring back a serviceable 3-and-D wing who can actually get minutes?
I don’t know about a 3-and-D wing that can get minutes. That’s the kind of archetype that the entire league is on the lookout for. I would maybe look for a backup big man that can sop up some minutes when Horford and Rob Williams need a night off. Maybe call up the Pistons (who have a lot of bigs) and see if they’ll part with Isaiah (Beef Stew) Stewart.
33 In Green
Will the Celtics find a way to obtain a good defensive and rebounding big man with a bit of offensive ability without giving away too much existing talent?
I do think that backup bigs are one of the easier positions to fill with minimum or cheap contracts. You might not get a big upgrade on Kornet but maybe you could find someone with a different skill mix so you can pick and choose which type of big you need on any given night.
Jeff, are Charles Lee and Cassell enough to help Joe bridge the knowledge gap? Or is there value in adding a greybeard who’s been a head coach at the collegiate level - somebody who could help with advanced Xs and Os?
I am excited about the additions of Lee and Cassell. I’m also excited about Mazzulla himself having a full season of experience, a full offseason, and a legit training camp (which he will have more than a few days to prepare for). There was a tremendous talent drain when Ime, Hardy, and eventually Stoudamire all left the bench. Adding two of the brightest names to the bench will just give Joe a lot of experienced advice to lean on.
The one caveat is that one or both of them could and probably should be up for head coaching positions next summer. And of course if the Celtics have trouble out of the gate next season, there will be questions about one of them taking over for Joe. That could be a distraction, but the best way to put that to rest is to win a lot of games.
Jeff, what’s your draft prediction? Is it strictly BPA, or do you think Brad views the roster’s shortcomings differently than we do? For instance, I’ve seen a number of mocks that show us taking Marcus Sasser, who seems like a classic Danny tweener pick. All things bring equal, we have a lot more depth at the guard and wing positions (including the two kids in Europe) than we have at the four and five. Are there big men you think Brad’s eyeing?
I haven’t spent one second evaluating specific players in this draft. With that said, I’m willing to guess that you’ll see a slight shift in drafting philosophy this season. For the last few drafts, the Celtics have been mostly taking swings on draft-and-stash guys. Guys that are extremely raw but have higher upside.
This year you might see them go for a lower upside, solidly deep bench guy at 35. Someone who they can bring in and maybe even lock up to a low cost contract. Those are the kinds of guys that we’ll need to lean on under the new CBA rules.
Assuming that none of the starting six (Tatum, Brown, Horford, Smart, Rob Williams, White) are involved, if the Celtics do make a move which of Pritchard, Grant Williams*, Gallinari, or Brogdon (or some combo) would have the most people returning phone calls?
*-I’m assuming a sign and trade.
I’m pretty sure that Brad Stevens is going to be active this offseason talking to other teams about all those guys you mentioned. I’ve written at length about Brogdon being an obvious choice to shop. Pritchard seems like a guy that wants a different address, but we’ll see if that changes if the Celtics free up time for him by dealing Brogdon. The sentimentalist in me really wants to see Gallo get to play for the Celtics, if only for a season (or till the trade deadline?).
Is this the year either of our Eurostash players make the main or Maine roster?
We’ll see, but I’m a bit skeptical. Yam Madar has played well, earning the EuroLeague “Best Young Player” honor. But there’s clearly already a lot of guards on the roster. Don’t forget that JD Davison could step into a role if there’s a trade that sends out one of the guards.
Juhann Begarin might be a candidate to earn a two-way deal and spend a lot of time in Maine. He’s at a position of more need, but he’s still pretty raw (from what I understand - which is admittedly limited).
Okay, Jeff, can it now be revealed: why did we sign Justin Champagnie right before the playoff run? Rather than a veteran who might have been able to provide spot help off the bench? A lot of people seemed to assume it was going to be Tony Snell, due to his being with Maine, but there were other vets available.
And does Champagnie have any other role for the Celtics, beyond maybe a training camp invite?
Ok, I’m not as good at this as our old friend Keith Smith, but here goes. Guys signed in the last few days of the season are typically bets on the future. You either get a guy in camp the next season that could earn a shot at a roster spot, or you have a contract on the books that you can aggregate in a trade over the summer (go look up the guys sent out in the Malcolm Brogdon trade).
I don’t know if Champagnie is a future Caleb Martin or just the next Juwan Morgan, but he was worth taking a look at.
Everyone I hear talk about the new salary cap says that it effectively creates a “hard” cap. I have yet to hear how or why. Does it really stop teams from spending over a certain limit? I know it takes away the midlevel and limits trade flexibility in terms of salary matching, and it takes away other roster building moves (2-way contracts? by-outs?, I forget). But is it really a hard cap? And if not, couldn’t a rich team take advantage of how scared other teams are of it and zig well they are zagging and go ahead and spend the money?
The new CBA has introduced a 2nd apron, which is not a hard cap but most assume it will be treated very much like a hard cap by most teams. There will likely be some teams that will accept the penalties for a year or two. Not only will the taxes will be extremely punitive (even the richest owners will wince) but there will be added restrictions on what those teams can do with their roster. They really make it hard to make any changes to upgrade the roster in any way. For more on this, I recommend reading Spooney’s article outlining what we know so far.
I think you are going to see an awful lot of player movement this summer (including stars that normally wouldn’t have been traded) as teams line up their books to prepare for the following year.
I think the walk-away number for matching a Grant Williams offer sheet should be around $20 million. Is that too low?
Free agency always breaks my brain because as soon as I think there’s a number that makes sense, players sign for 20% higher and everyone just kind of re-aligns what a “good” contract is.
With Grant it might be more important to look at the years than the dollars. He might be happy with something like $15M per year for 4 years. Or he may prefer closer to $20M for just 2 years, getting back on the market (in theory) when the TV money increases the cap again.
Those are just hypothetical numbers though. I’m not sure what his number is or what the Celtics would be willing to match. They might just match anything (within reason) if only to retain his contract as an asset that they could deal later. It will certainly be one of the bigger stories to watch this summer.
Are the Celtics big enough to win a championship? Cleveland has 2 bigs, PHI has Embid, MIL has Giannis and maybe Lopez back. Denver has Jokic, MPJ, and Gordon in the backcourt.
I think a duo of Horford and Rob Williams is fantastic, but obviously their availability is always going to be a question. So I do feel like we have a need for more size. That alone is another reason to keep Grant Williams around, but I’d be looking to move a guard to add more depth down low.
What does Tatum need to add/change to be the leader of a championship team?
This is a tough question because Tatum is so good at so many thing and every year he seems to add to his game in some way or another. The guy was in the running for MVP for a reason.
With that said, the biggest thing for Tatum is consistency. He’s still prone to hot and cold streaks both on a micro and macro sense. There are months when he looks like the best player on the planet and then there are games when he can’t hit the broad side of a barn.
Now, all stars have off nights once in a while. We have our own team under a microscope so we notice it more in our guys. But it does seem like Tatum needs another way to attack when his jumper isn’t falling. He’s already added more driving and playmaking to his bag of tricks since this time last year.
I think I’d like to see the Celtics use him out of the post or mid-post more often. He can go back to using the mid-range game that he loved early on. He can also draw defenders and either draw a foul or pass out to an open man or cutter. He’s never going to be Jokic, but you can get some more movement in the offense by using Tatum as a hub.