In the midst of deciding which new head coach is destined to guide the 2021-22 Boston Celtics and preparing for July 29’s NBA Draft, president of basketball operations Brad Stevens has a busy summer ahead of him.
Evaluating mid-to-late first-round talent should come easy for a former veteran NBA head coach like Brad. However, deciding how to finesse the remaining $11 million left from Gordon Hayward’s Traded Player Exception into a low-risk, high-reward kind of player is an entirely separate matter.
The latest Celtics news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Celtics newsletter here!
Stevens, who still has plenty of time to try to squeeze out an additional player from the Celtics’ TPE that was acquired via the Hayward deal with the Charlotte Hornets, should aim to cash in on swapping out first-round or second-round draft picks in exchange for a player who could potentially boost Boston’s bench ahead of free agency.
Here are three potential options for the Celtics.
Memphis Grizzlies’ Kyle Anderson
The Celtics have had eyes on Grizzlies utility-man Kyle Anderson, according to MassLive.com’s Brian Robb and his versatility certainly makes him an ideal fit in Boston. For the Celtics, 12.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.6 assists are the kind of production that’s typically yielded by a member of the starting lineup.
Anderson’s defensive prowess, along with his consistent two-way capabilities would strengthen Boston’s defense at the wing positions. Kyle, 6-foot-9, is also a solid pick-and-roll defender and is undoubtedly worth the Celtics’ first-round pick.
However, Boston will most likely not be the only team in the market for Anderson’s services.
Cleveland Cavs’ Larry Nance Jr.
A well-rounded player with a versatile skill set, including size, athleticism, and an outside touch? This has Stevens — the former NBA veteran head coach, at least — written all over it, especially in the sort of low-risk, high-reward move that the Celtics are seeking to capitalize on, this summer via Hayward’s TPE.
Cavs’ power forward Larry Nance Jr. fits the bill. He averaged 9.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, and connected on a career-best 36% of his 3-pointers in 2020-21.
However, for Boston, it’ll certainly cost Stevens a first-round pick, and probably a bench player of Cleveland’s liking to get this one done. The Cavs are in no rush to move him.
Milwaukee Bucks’ Pat Connaughton
Milwaukee Bucks shooter Pat Connaughton is an intriguing option for the Celtics. And given the fact that the Bucks are one of the few handfuls of NBA teams in the market for draft capital, Stevens should consider using what’s left of Hayward’s TPE to match Connaughton’s $5.3 million for 2021-22 and dangle a future first to acquire the Arlington, MA native.
After emptying out both 2021’s first and second-round picks in a separate move, the Bucks sent their 2023, 2024 (right to swap), 2025, 2026 (right to swap), and 2027 first-round picks to the New Orleans Pelicans for Jrue Holiday. At the time, it was a very necessary move to make.
Reeling in Holiday undoubtedly secured superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo to a long-term deal with the Bucks. But now, Milwaukee will desperately attempt to replace some of that loss, this offseason, and Connaughton’s outside touch bodes well for Boston’s offense and lack of efficient shooting. The Celtics finished outside the top-10 in 3-point shooting (37.2%).
While averaging 6.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.2 assists, Connaughton’s shooting percentage from behind the arc spiked up from 33.1% to 37.1% in Milwaukee, this season.