Another year, another Kelly Olynyk reunion proposed. Commonly floated as a trade target at last year’s deadline, the 6-foot-11-inch, 240-pound Gonzaga product has readily been linked to Boston in recent seasons. Come buyout time a season ago, The Athletic’s John Hollinger even named Boston the “Captain Obvious” landing spot for the 30-year-old big had the Rockets opted to cut ties. Obviously, none of those hypotheticals came to fruition. Olynyk closed out the 2020-21 season in Houston, producing career-high numbers and catapulting his strong play into a $37 million contract with the Pistons during free agency.
However, just 10 games into his three-year deal with Detroit and Olynyk could be on the trade block. The Canadian native is among a handful of veteran players the Pistons “could look to sell” at this year’s deadline, per Hoops Hype. “I imagine Olynyk will be available. He was playing well until his injury. He’s only making $12 million, so that’s a really affordable deal I think any team can take on,” Yossi Gozlan said on the “Hoops Hype Podcast” on December 1.
Should this prove to be the case, Celtics Wire’s Justin Quinn believes the organization that once swung a draft-day swap to acquire Olynyk nine years ago could potentially be players to once again make a move for the sharpshooting big.
“While Olynyk may not know the new coach or system the team that drafted him now plays, he’s familiar with the team and has played with several players on it in the past,” And while we have pointed to old friend Daniel Theis as a potential target in a similar role recently, the Gonzaga product’s shooting is more reliable at 34.1%.
Olynyk’s Injury Status & Standing With Detroit
Olynyk has not appeared in a game since November 10th after suffering a Grade 2 MCL sprain in the fourth quarter of 112-104 victory over the Houston Rockets. The injury could keep Olynyk sidelined well into December, as the Pistons announced he would be re-evaluated at the six-week mark.
Detroit is currently the league’s worst 3-point shooting team, knocking down just 29.9% of their attempts from beyond the arc. Clearly, a 36.6% 3-point shooter such as Olynyk would be a welcome re-addition to the Pistons lineup. However, since his injury, the Pistons have won just two games and are currently owners of the worst record (4-18) in all of basketball. Considering the current state of their franchise, look for Detroit to continue to focus their energy on developing young talent such as No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham and potentially adding more to their current arsenal — even if that means at the expense of losing Olynyk.
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What Olynyk Brings to the Table
For starters, Olynyk can shoot. Something the Celtics could certainly use. Boston’s 32.9% 3-point percentage as a team checks in as the seventh-worst in the NBA. While he got off to a somewhat slow start in Detroit, Olynyk quickly came around and now currently boasts a 34.1% shooting percentage from deep.
His numbers during his abbreviated stay in Houston a season ago were undoubtedly skewed by his surroundings. Playing on one of the league’s worst-rounded rosters, Olynyk was able to pad his numbers to a stat line of 19 points, 8.4 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.8 threes. To further highlight how impressive that output was, Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley noted back in June that “only six players averaged 18 points, eight rebounds, four assists and a three this season, and they either were All-Stars or have been in the past.”
No potential Olynyk buyer should expect such elite production for an extended period. However, his ability to stretch the floor as a rotational big off the bench — much like during his prior stint in Boston — would be enough to warrant a flyer for the Celtics.