With the NBA draft in the rearview mirror and free agency quickly approaching, the Boston Celtics may be gearing up to make a splash. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Celtics are among three teams expected to pursue pending restricted free agent point guard Lonzo Ball.
“Lonzo Ball himself has a very strong market,” said Charania on Stadium’s Inside the Association Draft Special. “Chicago [Bulls], we all know about their interest, going back to the trade deadline. But I’m told two more teams that have shown interest in Ball — Boston, Toronto [Raptors]. So, it will be a very interesting free agency period, along with Indiana [Pacers]. But there is significant interest in Lonzo Ball, with a deal that could rise upwards of $21-$22 million a year.”
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Ball’s Steady Improvement
Ball, 23, was selected second overall by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2017 NBA Draft. After two mostly underwhelming seasons in Southern California, the UCLA product found his way to New Orleans, traded to the Pelicans as part of the Anthony Davis blockbuster. It’s here where Ball has blossomed into a quality starting NBA guard.
In 2020-21, the 6-foot-6-inch, 190-pound Ball took major strides as a scorer, notching career highs in points (14.6), field goal percentage (41.4%) and 3-point percentage (37.8%). Of course, he’s always been renowned as of the league’s more gifted passers, averaging at least 7.0 assists in half of his four pro campaigns.
Ball is part of a star-studded free agency point guard class this summer that also enlists Chris Paul, Mike Conley and Kyle Lowry — just to name a few.
Ball’s Fit in Boston
The Celtics showing interest in Ball shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. While the organization has remained adamant about their support of Marcus Smart, Boston would certainly welcome more support and upside at the point guard position following Kemba Walker’s departure.
Behind Smart, the Celtics currently have only Payton Pritchard, Carsen Edwards and Tremont Waters at their disposal. The latter of which is reportedly eyeing an exit from Boston, according to The Athletic’s Jared Weiss. There is also stashed 2020 draft pick Yam Madar who has officially been named to the team’s Summer League roster.
That said, Ball’s distribution skills and budding accuracy from beyond the arc could prove to be not only an upgrade for the Celtics at the point guard position but possibly an ideal fit alongside stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
“I mean he’s an elite-level passer. He can guard. His shot has gotten better. I don’t know what he’s going to command on the market. He’s a restricted free agent. But that’s somebody I would absolutely look at,” Stadium’s Jeff Goodman said on the Greg Hill Show back in June, via WEEI. “Bring in a Lonzo Ball, he just makes people better and they haven’t had that for a while.”
While Ball would be a nice addition for president Brad Stevens’ first offseason on the job, adding the California native still seems a bit far-fetched considering the team’s current financial situation. With that said, he’s already managed to unload Walker’s highly unappealing contract while still yielding serviceable rotational pieces in return — something many said would prove nearly impossible.