Late Tuesday night, Brad Stevens pulled the trigger on the first move in what is expected to be a busy trade season for the Celtics. Boston acquired big man Bol Bol and P.J. Dozier from the Nuggets in a three-team trade that shipped Juancho Hernangomez to the Spurs and former San Antonio sharpshooter Bryn Forbes to the Nuggets.
Speaking to reporters prior to Wednesday’s tipoff against the Charlotte Hornets, Celtics head coach Ime Udoka shed light on the expectations for both Dozier and Bol Bol moving forward, as well as the tantalizing upside he sees in the latter.
“He’s an intriguing young player, as well as P.J. [Dozier],” Udoka said, via Boston.com. “They can possibly join us in the last few months, and I’ve seen [Bol] quite a bit at Oregon before he got hurt there playing with Payton. Know about him, intriguing guy who can do a lot of things obviously, and he’s a guy that’s a restricted free agent, so we can retain his rights and get a good look at him over the next few months.”
Injury Timeline on Bol & Dozier
Of course, Bol won’t make an immediate impact for the Celtics. The 22-year-old recently decided to undergo surgery on his foot after a prior trade to Detroit was voided last week following a failed physical. On January 18, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that Bol is expected to be sidelined for 8-12 weeks.
A former second-round pick out of Oregon in 2019, Bol appeared in just 14 games with the Nuggets this past season, averaging a mere 2.4 points and 1.4 rebounds per game. While he’s flashed from time to time, he was never able to truly crack Michael Malone’s rotation in Denver. His most prolific campaign in the pros came during his rookie season when he knocked down 44.4% of his shots from beyond the arc and averaged a career-best 5.7 points in 12.4 minutes per game.
As for Dozier, he remains out indefinitely after suffering a torn ACL in November. A fifth-year pro out of South Carolina, this will actually mark Dozier’s second stint with the Celtics. He previously played six games for Boston in 2018-19. Prior to his injury, Dozier was averaging 5.4 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists for the Nuggets this season.
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Udoka Talks Hernangomez Exit
While the new pieces Boston has acquired certainly boasts their own respective upside, the financial implications of this deal were almost certainly also a factor in Stevens’ decision to pull the trigger. Moving off Hernangomez’s $6.9 million cap hit saves Boston nearly $3 million, inching them close to avoiding the luxury tax.
Originally acquired in a trade with the Memphis Grizzlies this past offseason, Hernangomez’s ability to stretch the floor was believed to factor into Boston’s frontcourt rotation alongside the likes of Al Horford and Robert Williams. Unfortunately, that never came to fruition in Boston, as he averaged just 5.3 minutes per game. However, according to Udoka, Hernangomez’s lack of usage was to no fault of his own.
“Like I said about Payton [Pritchard], [it was] nothing that he didn’t do. It was more so what Grant [Williams] did early on shooting the ball and some of the defensive things,” Udoka said of Hernangomez’s lack of playing time in Boston. “And at times, we’ve just gone with small lineups with Romeo [Langford], some of those guys. Hopefully, for him, it’s a better situation where he’ll have a better opportunity.”
Hernangomez averaged 1.1 points and 1.4 rebounds over 18 games for the Celtics this season.