Perimeter wing shooting was a potential worry for the Celtics heading into this season, and that was even before Gordon Hayward, their All-Star small forward, went down with a season-ending leg injury.
The return of Marcus Morris in a week or two will help in this area, but that doesn’t change the fact that Brad Stevens is dealing with a lot of inexperience and unreliable outside shooting at the end of his bench right now. The head coach admitted that help could be in the cards before Wednesday’s game.
“I think we will at least be actively looking for that roster spot,” Stevens explained, “Just because, obviously, the standpoint of the youth, but also because you lose one of your better shooters and more versatile players. A guy who can put the ball in the basket for you. We'll see how that works itself out.”
For the time being, the Celtics only have a veteran’s minimum to use to sign any free agent since they are over the salary cap. The team will likely apply for a disabled player exception (up to $8.4 million exception to use in a trade or free agency), but they likely won’t receive word on that for a couple weeks. In the meantime, Danny Ainge needs to go bargain basement shopping for a wing shooter that can help right away. Here are a few candidates that could get a look:
2016-17 stats: 11.4 MPG, 5.6 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 0.7 APG, 40.9 FG%, 35.1 3pt% (47 games)
Overview: Let’s start with Green, who is probably the most realistic option for Boston after he was waived by the Milwaukee Bucks before roster cutdown day last week. The Celtics need someone they can integrate into their system on the fly, and there is no player available more familiar with Stevens’ system than Green. He wasn’t signed back because of the glut of young talent on the wing, but with Hayward out of the picture, that’s no longer a concern. His playing time was up and down throughout the regular season last year, but the veteran wing started eight playoff games for Boston last April and May. His perimeter shooting in those contests was crucial in helping the C’s come back from a 2-0 deficit in the first round against Chicago.
We all know what the issues are with Green. He’s a one-dimensional player who doesn’t do much for you when his shot isn’t falling, particularly on the defensive end. However, the Celtics need players that opposing defenses are going to respect on the perimeter. Green checks off that box.
2016-17 stats: 14.6 MPG, 5.5 PPG, 0.6 RPG, 0.5 APG, 38.9 FG%, 30.8 3pt% (49 games)
Overview: Don’t let the subpar numbers from last year fool you: Morrow can shoot. He is actually one of the best active 3-point shooters in the league, with a career percentage of 41.7% from downtown. The question the Celtics have to ask themselves is whether Morrow’s last year was a fluke or if he has something left in the tank. Boston fans got a small glimpse of him in the Bulls series (Chicago acquired him midseason), but he saw only limited minutes once Rajon Rondo went down. Morrow was waived in training camp by the Blazers last week, and like Green, he is a net minus on the defensive end. He’s not going to create for you offensively, but he stands out as a more than capable catch-and-shoot weapon. If the Celtics are looking for reliability in that area, he may be the best bet.