‘Hard to Envision’ Cam Payne Joining Celtics, Says Analyst

Cam Payne

Getty Cam Payne

The San Antonio Spurs made a notable roster decision on September 11, 2023, when they waived Cam Payne, who they acquired from the Phoenix Suns. With Payne on the market, the Boston Celtics could make a run at him if he clears waivers.

However, MassLive’s Brian Robb doesn’t think that will happen. Robb explained why he doesn’t believe the Celtics will want the former lottery pick.

“Seeing that Boston’s biggest depth weak spot is in the frontcourt right now, it’s hard to envision a Payne pursuit for a couple of reasons,” Robb wrote in a September 12 story. “First, the opportunity for him as a minimum free agent would not be there in Boston’s backcourt as currently composed. White, Brown, Brogdon, and Pritchard (who the team is very high on during camp) will eat up the lion’s share of minutes in the backcourt. That makes a path for regular playing time for Payne a tough sell.”

Robb then went into more detail explaining why Payne wouldn’t fit with the Celtics.

“Additionally, it’s hard to argue that Payne is an upgrade on any of the bench options the Celtics currently have. Payne averaged 10.3 points and 4.5 assists in 48 games for the Suns last season. However, his shooting splits (41 percent from the field) are a step down from most of Boston’s regular, and he’s been an average 3-point shooter (36 percent) throughout his career. Add in his size limitations defensively, and he’s not necessarily someone that Joe Mazzulla would want to play over anyone currently in his top-10 on the roster.”

Celtics ‘Would Surely Add’ Kelly Oubre Jr: Analyst

With their last roster spot, the Celtics could use it on Kelly Oubre, who, despite averaging over 20 points a game with the Charlotte Hornets last season, remains a free agent. Robb, however, explained why Oubre, too, is not likely to join the team.

“The Celtics would surely take him for the minimum, but he’s likely holding out for a bigger role elsewhere for (that) type of money,” Robb wrote in a September 8 mailbag. “It’s a little crazy to see a guy who averaged 20 points per game last year have to settle for the minimum. Then again, doing it for a tanking team while shooting 31 percent from 3 doesn’t earn you many accolades.”

Even if Oubre joined the Celtics, it’s not likely he would put up the same averages with the Celtics that he did with the Hornets, given that the Celtics have more scorers than the Hornets did during the 2022-3 season.

Thunder Big Floated as Celtics Target

With the Celtics need for more frontcourt depth Sports Illustrated’s Bobby Krivitzky floated Oklahoma City Thunder big Jeremiah Robinson-Earl as an option.

“If Robinson-Earl gets squeezed out of Oklahoma City and finds his way to Boston, he’d provide the latter with a high-IQ player who brings value on both sides of the ball,” Krivitzky wrote in a September 6 story. “Defensively, he’s capable of guarding multiple positions effectively. Offensively, Robinson-Earl sees the floor well and is an effective cutter.”

Krivitzky added that what Robinson-Earl had done in the past could make him appealing to the Celtics.

“He averaged 7.2 points per game his first two years in the NBA and made 35.2% of his 3.4 three-point attempts as a rookie, demonstrating the potential to develop into a reliable stretch-four. He’s also a contributor on the glass, grabbing 5.6 rebounds in 22.2 minutes in the 2021-22 campaign and 4.2 per contest in 18.9 minutes last season.”

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