As we move closer to July 18, we can expect the Boston Celtics to ramp up their interest in multiple players who fit within the Evan Fournier TPE.
The reason July 18 is such a significant date, is because that is when the Celtics’ largest trade exception expires, and failing to utilize such an exception would be construed as a failure by the fanbase.
However, it’s worth noting that Boston has to get this trade right, as otherwise, they risk upsetting the balance of the locker room, and that could have a negative effect on their performances next season. Still, the clock is ticking, and all eyes are on the Celtics’ next moves.
According to Jeff Pratt of CelticsBlog, Boston should look no further than Kyle Kuzma as they try to improve their bench rotation in the coming weeks.
“Kuzma is on the books for just $13 million over each of the next two seasons (with a player option next year), which is a steal assuming his 2021-22 production wasn’t an outlier. There’s a chance the Wizards see him as part of their core for the future, but if he’s available, Kuzma might be Stevens’ No. 1 target with the Fournier TPE,” Pratt wrote on June 24.
What Does Kuzma Bring to Boston?
By now, it’s common knowledge that Boston needs another wing to help lighten the heavy load on Jayson Tatum’s and Jaylen Brown’s shoulders. Ideally, that wing will be a plus defender, a capable multi-level scorer, and be able to handle the rock a little bit too. Kuzma checks all of those boxes.
The Michigan native is coming off his best season as a professional, where he averaged 17.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game on shooting splits of 34.1% from deep, 45.2% from the field, and 71.2% from the free-throw line. Peeling another layer off those shooting splits, Kuzma is reliable at the rim, hitting 71% of his shots within four feet of the basket last season, while his three-point shooting isn’t limited to one area, with him dropping 33% of his looks from the corner and 35% from elsewhere on the perimeter.
Sure, if Kuzma were to come off Boston’s bench, his numbers would certainly decrease, but the idea is that he would have a significant role with the rotation, and as such, would be given every opportunity to make a similar impact for Boston as he did for the Washington Wizards.
Would Boston Make the Deal?
Kuzma might be young, but he already owns an NBA Championship ring, which he won in 2020 with the Los Angeles Lakers – that was the season Boston was defeated by the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Adding a young talent who fits the team’s current timeline, and who also brings deep playoff and championship experience, would be an ideal scenario for the Celtics. Kuzma’s skillset would also allow him to step into the starting line-up when Tatum or Brown miss games due to injury or rest.
But, as with all trade talks, the biggest stumbling block would be the Wizards’ willingness to make a trade, and what their asking price would be in return for the 26-year-old forward. However, if the Celtics are indeed looking for an additional wing/forward to back up their star duo, they wouldn’t find many better options than Kuzma.