As was the case with his previous gig, Boston Celtics president Brad Stevens is showing that there’s no rest for the weary in NBA circles. The fledgling executive may have two big moves under his belt already, but Stevens still has a lot of work to do in order to prepare for the upcoming NBA Draft, free agency and trade season.
Fortunately, the former coach looks to be spending his summer at the office.
The Aussie Boomers are aiming to make a splash at the Tokyo Olympics later this month. As such, a number of prominent hoopsters from Down Under, several of which are longtime NBA veterans, have gathered for the team’s mini-camp.
Footage from a recent training session is making the rounds on social media and Aussie hoops insider Olgun Uluc spotted some notable attendees in the background of the video. Namely, Boston Brad, Charlotte Hornets GM Mitch Kupchak and other league executives.
Although many of those execs were likely there to see a certain projected lottery pick, there were multiple other players who could be of interest to Stevens Celtics in attendance as he looked on.
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Josh Giddey Was in the House
The clear headliner for scouts among the Aussie contingent was 18-year-old guard Josh Giddey, a 6-foot-7, 205-pound baller out of Melbourne.
Giddey signed on with the NBL’s Adelaide 36ers last year as part of the league’s Next Stars program, which aims to produce NBA Draft prospects. And he showed enough over the subsequent season to now be knocking on the doors of the draft’s top 10.
In 32 games last season, Giddey displayed incredible all-around chops, averaging 10.7 points, 7.2 assists, 7.1 rebounds and 1.1 steals per contest. In an April loss to the New Zealand Breakers, he became the youngest Australian in NBL history to log a triple-double. In Adelaide’s next contest, he became the first to do so in back-to-back games.
For his efforts, he captured NBL Rookie of the Year honors.
His size, basketball IQ/vision and high-level pick-and-roll ability have propelled him to the No. 11 spot on ESPN’s draft big board. His age, build and skillset have also drawn comparisons to reigning NBA ROY LaMelo Ball.
Although the Celtics don’t currently own a pick in the first round, the fact that they interviewed multiple lottery prospects at the NBA Draft Combine has some wondering whether Stevens could make a move to acquire a top pick.
Aussies in Free Agency
There have been rumblings that the Celtics have prioritized landing a veteran point guard this offseason. Given the fact that Kemba Walker is no longer with the club, that would stand to reason, too.
As it happens, multiple Boomers who happen to be unrestricted free agents may fit the bill. Chief among them is San Antonio Spurs point-man Patty Mills.
The 32-year-old Mills’ wouldn’t add 10 wins to the Celtics’ bottom line or individually lead them to a deep playoff run. What he can do, though, is be a stable, consistent contributor on both sides of the ball and a steadying locker room presence.
Last season, Mills put up 10.8 points in 24.8 minutes per contest and was a 37.5% three-point shooter. For a team in a cash crunch like the Celtics, that would be solid production at the one spot without breaking the bank.
Matthew Dellavedova is another Aussie guard with substantial NBA experience at the camp. He would be a more of a depth play but, again, given the Celtics’ cap situation, filling roster spots on the cheap could be a priority for Stevens.
Finally, former No. 5 overall pick Dante Exum is a wildcard. He has played at the point and on the wing throughout his NBA career and his incredible length has given him the look of a legit lockdown defender at times. However, his shooting woes, a multitude of major injuries and getting traded twice have dropped him firmly into the bust category.
Still, it may be worth a team’s while to take a flier on him as an inexpensive reclamation project.