Celtics Urged to Target Pacers Wing in Free Agency

TJ Warren, Boston Celtics

Getty TJ Warren, Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics‘ need for an additional wing is well documented, especially given the incredibly high minuted Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown played throughout the post-season.

As such, we should expect Brad Stevens and the Celtics front office to explore multiple avenues once the free-agency period begins, as they look to add an additional wing to the rotation.

According to Keith Smith of Spotrac, TJ Warren of the Indiana Pacers could be a potential candidate, should he be willing to accept the taxpayer mid-level exception to play for a contending team.

“Where should Boston be targeting bench depth? The first need is another proven wing. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum were pushed to their limits in minutes in both the regular season and playoffs. By the end of the Finals, both seemed to be running on fumes at times…Trade speculation is always tricky, but free agent targets for the Celtics could include Gary Harris, Boston-native Bruce Brown, Caleb and Cody Martin, or even T.J. Warren if he wanted to rehab his value on a title contender,” Smith wrote in a recent article.

Warren’s blend of perimeter scoring and rim pressure would be an ideal addition to Boston’s bench rotation, although, it’s highly likely he gets bigger offers from elsewhere during the free-agency period.

Warren’s Injury History is a Concern

Part of the reason Warren could be available at a discounted price is that his recent injury history is concerning. The North Carolina native has only participated in four NBA games over the last two seasons, missing the entirety of the 2021-22 NBA season as he recovered from a litany of left foot injuries. 

With so much missed time, it’s hard to envision Warren providing any legitimate impact for the majority of the regular season – especially if his injury issues re-occur once he’s back on the court. For a Celtics team that already has multiple players with re-occurring injury histories, adding another one, even on a short-term deal, could prove problematic.

Of course, part of the reason why Warren is a realistic target is that he’s entering next season as somewhat of an unknown commodity and any team who signs him to an offer sheet is doing so knowing they’re taking a risk. However, Boston won’t be the only team with this idea, and other contenders such as the Miami Heat will also likely show an interest.

Why Target Warren?

When healthy, Warren is a genuine scoring talent, capable of going supernova for stretches, and providing a consistent threat, either off the bench or in the starting lineup.

For his career, the six-foot-eight wing is averaging 15.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.2 assists, while shooting 35.7% from deep and 50.7% from the field. Sure, Warren projects more as a starter than a bench piece, but coming off the pine would allow him to rediscover his best form before hitting the free-agent market again in 2023 and looking to secure the bag.

When looking at Warren’s scoring profile, his addition makes even more sense. During his last health season in 2019-20, he shot 73% around the rim, 47% from the floater area, 48% from long mid-range, 42% from the corner three, and 40% from anywhere else on the perimeter – proving that he’s a genuine three-level scoring talent.

When you factor in Warren’s scoring ability, it makes sense to believe that the Celtics will be picking up the phone and trying to convince him to accept a ‘prove yourself year’ on a contending team – and if they could pull it off, Boston’s offense would be far more potent heading into next year.

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