While the Boston Celtics are still a young team, they have benefitted from additional veteran experience this season.
Al Horford has played a huge role for the Celtics this season, as did Josh Richardson during his short time with the team. There’s value to having old heads amongst a young and upcoming roster, which is why Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown were so pleased when Joe Johnson was added to the team via a hardship exemption earlier in the season.
Danny Ainge was always opposed to the idea of adding salary to the books for the sake of additional leadership, but it seems the new President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens understands a veteran or two can add balance to a rotation.
According to a Western Conference executive that spoke with Heavy.com under the condition of anonymity, the Celtics could be a dark-horse candidate to acquire Carmelo Anthony during the off-season. The veteran scorer has been a reliable presence on the Los Angeles Lakers bench this season and could help with the development of young shooters Payton Pritchard and Aaron Nesmith as well as giving Boston another sparkplug off the bench.
“If they make a run here and get to the conference finals or the Finals, he’s a solid option as a veteran shooter who can fill a small role. If you’re Tatum or Brown, they’d welcome a veteran like that. They have young shooters that they are not playing and maybe they prioritize those guys. But he’d be a security blanket,” The executive told Heavy.
Anthony Has Rebuilt His Career
When Anthony was cut from the Houston Rockets a few years ago, there was a widespread belief that his career had come to an untimely end. The former New York Knicks superstar was essentially blackballed around the NBA, and couldn’t find a team willing to give him an opportunity.
Luckily, the Portland Trail Blazers eventually saw the upside in having one of the greatest scorers of all-time coming off their bench and convinced the Syracuse product to join the team.
The Trail Blazers reaped the rewards of putting their trust in Anthony, as he went on to average 14.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.5 assists on 42.5% shooting from the field and 39.9% from three over 127 games, 61 of them coming as a starter. Anthony then went on to join the Lakers last off-season, where he has continued to provide value as a scoring punch in limited minutes.
Anthony Still Has Value
As we’ve seen over the last three seasons, Anthony, 37, is still a valuable rotation player for a contending team. Sure, he’s no longer a primary scoring option, and can’t give you much on the break, but his ability to create shots for himself or operate as a catch-and-shoot release valve are both essential to a team looking to make a deep run.
Nik Stauskas, Luke Kornet, Juwan Morgan, and Malik Fitts are all end of bench players who don’t project to feature much in the playoffs or moving forwards. So, if Udoka can be persuaded to extend his rotation slightly, there is certainly room for Anthony’s presence at the wing position.
However, Udoka has been rigid in his willingness to provide minutes to players who aren’t capable of producing on the defensive end, and with such a tough system to integrate into, Anthony will need to buy into the Celtics’ methods or quickly find himself marginalized to an off-court leadership role.
As the Lakers didn’t make the playoffs this season, Anthony will be watching the post-season from home, which should give him plenty of time to begin planning his next move – if he chooses to continue playing, that is.