The Celtics have put themselves in quite the pickle in free agency. Losing Gordon Hayward was a big enough blow, but while the Celtics were waiting for the veteran to decide his future amid trade negotiations with the Pacers, a ton of free agents came off the board in the opening 24 hours of free agency.
Boston’s depth chart is in a tough spot for the moment, especially on the wing. Romeo Langford is out for at least the start of the season as he recovers from wrist surgery. That leaves rookie Aaron Nesmith as the top wing reserve behind Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Semi Ojeleye and Javonte Green could both be back at this point (non-guaranteed deals) but the biggest need on this roster right now is a small/power forward that can fill some of Hayward’s versatility.
The Celtics will have the full mid-level exception to offer ($9.2 million per year for up to four years) in the wake of Hayward’s departure along with the bi-annual exception ($3.6 million) to try to land some free agents left on the board. They made a run at Paul Millsap on Saturday afternoon but he agreed to stay put with the Nuggets for mid-level money.
UPDATE at 8:30 p.m. ET: Celtics signed Tristan Thompson with their mid-level exception and Jeff Teague to a one-year deal so they only have the bi-annual exception ($3.6 million left) and veteran's minimum deals left.
The bigger question for the immediate future in Boston now is what other names will the Celtics target with Millsap gone as an option? Hayward (when healthy) did a lot of different things for the Celtics and the team will likely want to take it easy with Kemba Walker’s minutes in the wake of his constant knee issues last season.
A look at the C’s current depth chart
Ballhandling Gs (5): Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart, Jeff Teague, Payton Pritchard, Carsen Edwards, Tremont Waters (two-way)
Wings (6, 1 non-guaranteed): Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Aaron Nesmith, Romeo Langford (injured), Semi Ojeleye, Javonte Green (non-guaranteed)
Bigs (4): Tristan Thompson Daniel Theis, Robert Williams, Grant Williams, Tacko Fall (two-way)
Here’s a look at what is still out there and some names that may interest the Celtics as they try to fill some big holes on the roster.
Jeff Teague, Shabazz Napier, Reggie Jackson, Jevon Carter (restricted), Brad Wanamaker, Yogi Ferrell, Quinn Cook, Jordan McLaughlin (restricted), Tyler Johnson
Analysis: Look for one veteran to be brought in to battle for minutes with Pritchard and Tremont Waters (if he makes the team). Celtics could simply opt to bring back Wanamaker for continuity purposes. A lot of seasoned older players are on this list but all of them are flawed in some form. Wouldn’t expect the Celtics to spend more than the minimum or bi-annual for anyone. (UPDATE: Teague was the veteran).
Bogdan Bogdanovic (Restricted, out of price range for C’s), Shaq Harrison, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Langston Galloway, E’Twaun Moore, Bryn Forbes, Austin Rivers, Wayne Ellington, Damyean Dotson, Dion Waiters
Analysis: A veteran shooter would be useful unless the front office wants Brad Stevens to hand minutes to Aaron Nesmith and Payton Pritchard no matter what. Working out a sign-and-trade for Bogdanovic doesn’t seem workable given how much money he will command and assets the Kings will want for him in a sign-and-trade scenario. Harrison would be a strong defensive weapon that the Celtics have had an interest in. With Millsap off the table, Caldwell-Pope is probably a top name on this list. Otherwise, it’s hard to see the C’s offering much more than the veteran’s minimum for any of these shooters that struggled on the defensive end (Galloway, Moore, Forbes, etc.)
Brandon Ingram (restricted), Kent Bazemore, Wesley Iwundu, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marco Belinelli, CJ Miles, Thabo Sefolosha, Gerald Green, Glenn Robinson III, Torrey Craig, Kyle Korver, Glenn Robinson III, Stanley Johnson, Sterling Brown