$65 Million Sharpshooter ‘Ought to be’ High on Celtics Shopping List: Analyst

Kevin Huerter, Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics

Getty Kevin Huerter, Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics

Shooting has been the Boston Celtics‘ biggest weakness over the last 12 months, and played a part, however small, in their eventual post-season downfall against the Golden State Warriors.

Luckily, the off-season will give Brad Stevens and the front office the opportunity to revamp their roster, plugging the few holes the team’s rotation currently has. Unfortunately, Boston doesn’t project to have much cap space to play with, and will likely enter discussions armed with the taxpayer mid-level exception of around $6.3 million, and a plethora of traded player exceptions. 

Still, finding the right players, and enticing them to Boston requires effort, scouting, and finding a way to make the money work. However, according to NBC Sports Boston’s Chris Forsberg, one player that makes sense for the Celtics to pursue is the Atlanta Hawks Kevin Huerter.

“The name that ought to come up most often: is Atlanta’s, Kevin Huerter. Like White, he’s under contract deep into the future and his combination of size and shooting would complement this core well while filling two of Boston’s biggest areas of need. He’d be one of the team’s weakest defenders but he’s more serviceable on that end than, say, a Robinson type. Keep in mind that the contracts of Theis and Nesmith leave open some possibilities of deals that don’t involve just taking on a huge chunk of salary but would likely come with a greater draft asset cost,” Forsberg wrote in a June 20 article. 

Huerter’s average salary over the next four years equates to $16.25 million, which would easily fit within the $17 million Evan Fournier TPE, however, the Celtics would still need to make the trade enticing for the Hawks, and there’s no guarantee that’s a possibility.

Huerter’s Shooting Fills a Need

During the regular season, the Celtics ranked 14th in the NBA for three-point percentage, and eighth in three-pointers made, but it was clear that their bench lacked a battle-tested specialist.

That’s where Huerter comes in, a career 37.9% shooter from deep on an impressive 5.4 attempts per game – the Atlanta Hawks guard has proven himself as a capable scorer both off the catch or when curling over screens or pin down.

The 23-year-old guard fits within Boston’s current timeline, is under contract for the next four years, and would drastically improve the team’s bench rotation. However, Huerter’s limitations on the defensive end of the floor mean that Ime Udoka may not be inclined to give him the minutes his offensive production deserves.

Still, entering the first year of a new contract, the Maryland product makes perfect sense as a scoring upgrade – but there would be legitimate concerns about minutes where he shares the floor with Payton Pritchard.

Does Boston Have Their Own Huerter on the Roster

When you look at what Huerter brings to the table, it’s fair to ask if Sam Hauser could fill that role. Sure, the Hawks guard is proven at the NBA level and has 274 regular-season games under his belt, but from a skillset standpoint, Hauser isn’t a million miles away.

Both are essentially single-skilled players, with shooting being their calling card, but Huerter is also a capable initiator, averaging 3.2 assists per game for his career – could Hauser get to that? Probably not, but his size does lend itself to believing he could be impactful on the defensive glass when called upon.

The hardest thing about falling short in the NBA finals is not making moves for the sake of making moves. Boston is clearly a piece or two away from being a complete team, and if Huerter doesn’t move the needle, then acquiring him is an exercise in futility.

However, if the New York native’s floor spacing and secondary creation are seen as improvements, and the coaching staff believes Hauser is still a year or two away from being where he needs to be, Huerter could be a long-term solution to an ailment that has blighted the Celtics in recent seasons.

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