Thinking about options for Celtics to fit in the Grant Williams TPE originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens told reporters in Las Vegas earlier this week that the team could try to add depth to the front positions before finishing its summer roster construction.
Boston has one open spot on the parent roster, along with two players on non-guaranteed deals in Justin Champagnie and Luke Kornet. The team also has two remaining two-way slots after signing 2022 draftee JD Davison to a second two-way deal last week.
The Celtics have limited resources to add talent, with virtually no way to attract free agents beyond minimum wages. If the team desires to maintain maximum flexibility in the season, it would avoid using the $5 million taxpayer mid-tier (which would limit the team to the $182.5 million second platform).
Boston’s best way to potentially add talent would be to use a $6.2 million traded player exception generated by supplying Grant Williams to the Dallas Mavericks in a three-team sign-and-trade deal.
So who could the Celtics target at that salary level? Balloon contracts don’t make it very easy to find cheap talent, but here are a few of the names that stood out:
The 24-year-old Bey is entering the final year of his rookie pact, which could at least entice the Hawks to consider trading opportunities and keep the price tag relatively low. Unfortunately, the Hawks are also thinning out in the power forward spot after finally moving John Collins.
Bey would offer Boston a rematch in 2020 after the Celtics selected Aaron Nesmith with Bey still on the board (he went to Detroit in 19th). Bey shot 40 percent from past the 3-point arc in 25 games with the Hawks last season and stands at 36 percent for his career. Boston could use a bit of its Villanova grit given his off-season departure.
The Cavaliers added Georges Niang and Max Strus this offseason while drafting Emoni Bates. That could pose a problem for perimeter shooters like 26-year-old Wade, who had an up and down year last season. Wade is a career 36.2 percent shooter beyond the 3-point arc, but he brings the kind of size Boston could crave (6-foot-9, 228 pounds). He started 60 games in the past three seasons and is a solid team defender.
The extra bit of padding built into TPEs could give the Celtics just enough room to think about someone like Porter. His health probably doesn’t make it worth the risk. Porter played 63 games for Golden State in 2022, aiding in their title run (including against Boston in the NBA Finals that year).
The Raptors rolled the dice by signing him to a two-year contract last summer, and he only played eight games last season. That could lower the price for someone who would be a depth piece. but if Porter Jr.’s salary forced the Celtics above the second apron, it may not even be worth taking the contract.
Would the Magic and their surfeit of young talent be willing to low-sell the soon-to-be 25-year-old striker? The former 16th overall pick enters the final year of his rookie deal, playing just 27 games last year due to injuries. The scouting report suggests a 3-and-D wing, but Okeke hasn’t hit the ball well at the NBA level (32.3 percent on 4.2 tries per game for his career).
Will the Raptors start selling pieces or try to drive with what they have? When the firesale kicks off, Boston could inquire about Achiuwa, who is entering the final year of his rookie deal. The soon-to-be 24-year-old may cost a bit more but would provide depth up front where the Celtics have health issues.
Ultimately, any deal involving a wing should be weighed with the priority of (1) playing Sam Hauser more than the Celtics did a year ago to further advance his development while enhancing his ability to be a consistent rotational presence , gauges and (2) preserve design capital for the kind of surefire move that could help a championship-quality team.
If you don’t think any of these players are moving the needle for a championship hopeful, then it’s probably best to ride what you’ve got. Ultimately, the TPE just opens up another avenue for the Celtics to consider adding talent without handcuffing themselves in the event that a bigger splash in the season comes their way.