The Boston Celtics might need some fresh blood, but it’s their G-League affiliate that’s moved to strengthen their roster.
On January 21, the Maine Celtics announced they had signed Denzel Valentine, the 14th pick from the 2016 draft. Valentine is currently in his fifth season as a professional and has already appeared in 256 NBA games.
“With 256 games in the NBA, Valentine (6-5, 218 pounds) comes to Maine as the most experienced player on the current roster, with stints in Chicago, Cleveland, and Utah. The bulk of Valentine’s playing career came with the Chicago Bulls. He played in 77 games for Chicago during the 2017-18 season, averaging 10.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 3.2 assists. For his NBA career, Valentine averages 7.0 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game,” Evans Boston wrote for the Maine Celtics.
Valentine has participated in 24 NBA games this season, 22 with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and 2 with the Utah Jazz before finding himself in the free-agency pool. By signing in Maine, the Celtics will get an opportunity to take a closer look at the veteran wing, who is a career 36% three-point shooter.
Valentine Can Not Play for Boston
Despite being signed by Boston’s G-League affiliate, Valentine isn’t allowed to suit up for the Celtics in the NBA. Essentially, Valentine remains a free agent in NBA terms and is permitted to enter contract discussions with any team in the league.
However, Boston’s coaching staff are continually in contact with their G-League affiliates and will likely keep a close eye on Valentine’s performances for Maine. Boston is in serious need of a roster shake-up, and while the former Chicago Bulls wing isn’t the most glamourous of names, he could be a cheap and reliable prospect should his performances catch the eye.
The Celtics currently have no open roster spots after taking two players back in the Juancho Hernangomez trade. So, unless the Celtics finalize another deal before the February 10 trade deadline, Valentine could find it difficult to entice the Celtics front office into offering a contract.
Of course, Boston could waive a player if they felt Valentine was a genuine difference-maker. Still, Stevens has continually spoken of maintaining financial flexibility, meaning he is unlikely to add further dead salary onto the cap sheet.
Valentine Has Struggled Since Entering the NBA
According to Cleaning The Glass, Valentine has been an inefficient player throughout his NBA career. During his sophomore season, the 28-year-old wing flashed signs of a reliable scoring stroke, hitting 40% from deep and 47% from the short mid-range region. However, the 6-foot-6 wing has regressed in the following two and a half seasons and is now viewed as a mediocre rotation player rather than an impactful veteran.
Unfortunately, Valentine might not be a consistent scorer, but he has no problem firing up shots, especially from deep. In his five years of NBA play, Valentine has consistently been one of the more frequent three-point shooting wings in the NBA, with more than 50% of his total offense coming from beyond the arc in his career.
As we’ve seen with the recent reclamation projects of Josh Richardson and Dennis Schroder, the Celtics aren’t afraid to bite on potential upside. If Valentine could rediscover his sophomore season form, he would quickly become a valuable member of the Celtics rotation. Still, he will need to prove himself in the G-League before any potential contract is extended his way.
We can expect to see Valentine in a Maine jersey for the first time on Tuesday, January 25, when the Celtics G-League affiliate faces off against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.