Veteran Center Listed Among Celtics Top Free Agent Targets

Robert Williams, Boston Celtics

Getty Robert Williams, Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics are under increasing pressure to bring in an additional big man following the news that Robert Williams will miss the start of the season due to requiring another operation on his knee.

Without Williams in their rotation, the Celtics are looking awfully thin at the center position – especially if you consider Al Horford to be more of a four at this point in his career. Luckily, there is a sizeable amount of free agent centers this summer, and given Boston’s status as a championship contender, it’s likely they would all be willing to sign with the team on a veteran minimum.

According to NBC Sports Boston’s Darren Hartwell, LaMarcus Aldridge is the free agent who makes the most sense for the Celtics, and given his previous working relationship with head coach Ime Udoka, may have the inside track to a contract.

“Aldridge’s best days are behind him, and he also lacks Howard’s defensive prowess. But he’d provide more of an offensive lift after averaging nearly 13 points in just 22.3 minutes per game off the bench for Brooklyn last season.

The former Spurs star also has a very strong connection with Celtics head coach Ime Udoka, who was Aldridge’s teammate on the Portland Trail Blazers and later helped recruit Aldridge to San Antonio as an assistant coach,” Hartwell wrote on September 20. 

Aldridge spent last season with the Brooklyn Nets, where he participated in 47 regular-season games, starting 12 of them, and ended the year with averages of 12.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, and a block per game while shooting 30.4% from deep and 57.8% from inside the perimeter. 

Aldridge Isn’t The Player he Once Was

Having just turned 37, it would be unfair to expect Aldridge to be the player he was eight years ago, as it’s clear time has sapped his mobility on a basketball court. At this point, Aldridge is essentially a big body that can defend the paint in drop coverage, guard the post, and clean the glass – as long as he’s not forced to move laterally.

Offensively, the Texas native continues to be a high-level screener and mid-range assassin, and as such, can still get buckets off the bench – either as a short-roll scorer or pick-and-pop big man.

Still, if Boston is looking for a mobile big man that is capable of operating in a fluid defensive scheme, Aldridge isn’t their guy. Yet, if the Celtics want a sizeable body roaming the middle of the floor, who can also get you eight to ten points per night, and doesn’t mind sitting on the bench for stretches of the season, the former San Antonio Spurs star could be the ideal fit.

Celtics Could Choose to Stand Pat

Sure, Boston’s center rotation is far from ideal, but given that Williams is expected to return in four-to-six weeks, Stevens and the front office may feel it’s prudent to see what their current roster is capable of before making a decision on whether to add another veteran or not.

Logically speaking, adding another center makes sense as a short-term move, but once Williams returns to the rotation, that new addition will see their role significantly reduced, and that could cause some issues within the locker room.

When you factor in the cap hit, which is magnified due to the luxury tax, Boston’s front office may deem a veteran center to be too expensive given that their viability as a rotation piece will decrease before the end of the year. However, it must be said that there’s no guarantee Williams will remain healthy throughout the season, and by choosing to stand pat now, the Celtics may find themselves in a worse position later in the year.

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