With up to 14 players (pending player options) potentially under contract for the Celtics heading into the 2020-21 season, Danny Ainge has a lot of options this offseason as he tries to improve his roster and build the Celtics into a formidable contender.
With such a crowded depth chart at the moment, consolidation is an option Boston’s front office is going to need to explore. There is not going to be enough room for everyone to play regular minutes in a healthy rotation, and there are necessary improvements that need to be made to bolster depth after a disappointing finish in the Eastern Conference Finals.
To sort through it all, let’s take a closer look at the team’s roster in part 2 of the 2020 Celtics trade value power rankings. We’ll count down the full list in the next two weeks. We began Part 1 on Sunday looking at spots No. 14-11.
Criteria: This isn’t simply ranking the best-to-worst players on the roster. There is significantly more that goes into a player’s trade value around the league than just talent (although that’s important). A player’s age, contract situation and injury history are all vital factors. Multiple scouts from around the league were consulted as this list was put together.
10. Semi Ojeleye
Remaining contract: One year, $1.75 million (team option)
2019-20 stats: 3.4 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 14.7 mpg, 40.8% FG, 37.8% 3pt (69 games)
Overview: Ojeleye is entering the final year of his four-year rookie deal and is far from a lock to be on the roster next year. Despite shooting a career-high 37 percent from 3-point range in his third season, his postseason shooting struggles (24 percent from 3) and offensive limitations make him a candidate to see his roster spot be upgraded.
The debate on Ojeleye within the front office should be fascinating in the upcoming weeks. He’s made significant strides with his 3-point shooting but was also the only rotation player with a negative net rating this year. The Celtics offense was 10 points worse per 100 possessions with him on the floor this season and his defensive strengths may not be enough to counteract that kind of a drop-off anymore. While those offensive concerns are problematic, there is a case for him to have a little value in Boston (or elsewhere) as a Giannis Antetokounmpo defender, a skill that helped to solidify his spot in the league as a rookie three years ago.
The question now is after the C’s added Grant Williams to the mix is whether Ojeleye’s spot on the bench is rather redundant. He’s useful cheap depth to have and very familiar with Brad Stevens’ system but his presence may also be a crutch for Stevens when there are younger/better options to play on the roster. For that reason, the C’s should certainly try to shop him around a bit this offseason before keeping him. If they can get a second-round pick for him, it’s probably worth pulling the trigger on moving on. If not, what the team does on draft night will tell the story on whether they will have enough room for him on next year’s roster.
What could Celtics get for him? Maybe a mid-late second-round pick?
9. Romeo Langford
Remaining contract: Three years, $13 million (final two years team option)
2019-20 stats: 2.5 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 11.6 mpg, 35% FG, 18.5% 3pt (32 games)
Overview: The 20-year-old Indiana product was drafted with an eye for the long-term last June amid a crowded Celtics depth chart at the wing. However, as injuries piled up across the roster at various points of the year and the postseason, Langford’s bad injury luck came back to haunt Boston. He only played in 32 games and now his availability for the start of next season is a question mark after undergoing wrist surgery to replace a torn tendon.
His offensive growing pains were apparent with his shooting numbers as he re-worked his jump shot with Celtics coaches all year long, but there were signs of long-term promise already showing, specifically on the defensive end. Langford played strong defense for a rookie on the wing, showing good IQ and recovery speed that earned him additional playing time in the second half of the season. That type of promise has left Danny Ainge feeling optimistic about his future even after he ended the season with more injuries piling up.
“When we drafted Romey and him coming into the year, we knew that he wouldn’t have a summer league last summer,” Ainge said. “And he was getting surgery on his hand and thumb. We knew there would be a little bit of a delay, but it has been kind of a snakebitten year. He showed some really, really positive signs in NBA games in small doses but in practice and in some G League games. Anyway, we think he has a very bright future. What the timetable is, I’m not sure there’s any benefit of me giving you a timetable, but I know that Romey’s in a good place as far as committed to getting healthy and committed to having a dynamic year next year. We’ll just see how the offseason goes.”
So while the Celtics hold plenty of expectations for him internally, that value does not translate