NBA training camp is over a month away. The regular season won’t start until the end of October. It’s a beautiful time for a Boston Celtics mailbag.
This is part 2 of a two part mailbag. The first half of the questions were answered earlier in the week. Let’s start.
Which deceased Celtics player has the best opportunity to have a breakout season with his new team? —DJ F
Aaron Nesmith. Clearly, he lost confidence in a shaky second season. He shot just 39.6% from the field, including 27% on 3-point attempts. Drafted in the lottery largely because of his reputation as a shooter, Nesmith admitted his issues were more mental than physical. After the season, he said he needed to “take a mental break” and “get away from it all”.
A change of scenery should give Nesmith a chance to revive his career. On the rebuilding Pacers, he should have a longer leash to make mistakes. He has always played with an endless motor. If he can start knocking down punches like he did in college, I bet there’s a real NBA player in him somewhere. He almost looked broken after the season, but he has a chance to pull himself together.
Hello, Jay! What do you think is the probability that Jaylen will not sign an extension? Because that seems to be the very key factor to consider trading for KD. If the Cs are confident enough they can re-sign Jaylen, dropping him for the 34 year old KD makes no sense to me. — Marko N.
It’s widely speculated that Jaylen Brown will refuse to sign an extension this offseason, but that has nothing to do with his feelings toward Boston. The Celtics simply can’t offer him a max contract yet, so for Brown to agree to an extension would mean leaving millions of dollars on the table. Our own John Hollinger recently wrote a good story about how league rules limit what Boston can offer Brown in an overtime this offseason, how that leaves the team in uncertain territory at the moment, and how that could potentially have an impact on Celtics decision-making. treat.
Are they adding a big veteran rotation? If so, who seems likely? — E-mark
Jay: I think the ‘save center’ discussion you had with Jam was extremely short-sighted on the podcast. Time Lord has yet to demonstrate that he is (a) 70 games plus (a) 16-20 players in the playoffs. Al is 36 years old and his revival last year is likely a curve peak with an unknown curve reverse. Gallinari is not a true five. If either of Rob or Al goes down for 30-40% of the season, we have Kornet. Theis was serviceable last year, but that’s it. Seven million TPE plus the tax on it is a lot of money for a rescue center, and the Cs will probably wait until the year to go on and secure someone, but they will. The question is, who? — Emile M.
Hi Emil and anyone who wants to hit me over the head in a mailbag question. I can’t remember exactly what was said on the podcast, but I’m sure I was a jerk, as usual.
Frontcourt depth emerges as the Celtics’ most obvious weakness. They could use a good back-up center behind 36-year-old Al Horford and injury-prone Robert Williams, but they have a number of question marks instead. Luke Kornet, who started last season in the G League, is currently set to enter training camp as the team’s third center. Behind him, the Celtics have several former first-round picks looking to revive their careers: Noah Vonleh, Bruno Caboclo and Mfiondu Kabengele.
If no one shows up as a reliable backup, the Celtics could possibly look to bolster their frontcourt rotation. They still have $6.9 million and $5.9 million business exceptions that could be used to find another vault. The options wouldn’t be very appealing, but someone like Mike Muscala would probably be pretty cheap and available at the deadline if Boston needed a frontcourt upgrade then. In the meantime, the Celtics could use Grant Williams at center if needed (he played substantial minutes there as a rookie), but they think Kornet will be fine in that role.
Is Payton Pritchard a guy who’s going to stick around long term? He showed flashes of promise, but at times he was an absolute liability. I still don’t know if he’s a solid rotation guy, especially in the playoffs. — Collin W.
I’m higher on Pritchard than you. Yes, his height can be an issue, especially in the playoffs. Still, he’s a knockdown shooter with reach well beyond the arc. Trapped in a rotten spot for most of last season as he was stuck behind Dennis Schröder, Pritchard still gave the Celtics good minutes when called upon. After the team opened up consistent minutes for him by moving Schröder at the trade deadline, Pritchard finished the regular season with a blistering 45.5 percent on 3-pointers over the past two months. So far, he’s shot more than 40% from that range in each of his two NBA seasons. It’s a real threat.
Clearly, Pritchard needs to develop as a playmaker after the rebound. His work ethic and tenacity suggest he will find a way to diversify his attacking game. If and when he does, the Celtics should stop acquiring someone ahead of him on the depth chart every offseason. Until then, Pritchard could look forward to a number of frustrating nights out of the rotation.
When the Celtics got pushed around, like they did in the Finals, I feel like they lacked a veteran who was willing to take on the opponent (Draymond Green) and show them we’ll fight back. Marcus Smart was that guy, but he’s become a leader who no longer picks the fight when needed. Do you think the team needs its Charles Oakley guy on the end of the bench to let other teams know we can’t be pushed around? —Scott R.
I dare you to say that to Smart’s face.
More seriously, I think the need for an “enforcer” is generally overstated. The Celtics didn’t lose the Finals because they refused to throw a punch at Draymond Green, but because they lacked the composure and execution on the offensive side. They couldn’t put the ball in the basket for a number of critical fourth quarters. They need a more mature attacking approach, not necessarily a big, violent man willing to sit at the end of the bench with a scowl on his face.
(Top photo: Winslow Townson/USA Today)