Celtics May Own ‘Tiebreaker’ to Acquire NBA Champions, per Insider

Celtics may own tiebreaker to sign former Spurs

Getty Boston Celtics head coach and development coach with the 2021 USA Basketball Men's National Team Ime Udoka attends a USA Basketball practice at the Mendenhall Center at UNLV.

Could familiarity help the Boston Celtics yield the services of a handful of veteran contributors this offseason?

Head coach Ime Udoka’s San Antonio ties are well documented at this point. The 43-year-old spent two separate stints with the Spurs as a player before serving as an assistant under Gregg Popovich. However, he’s far from the lone Celtics staffer with roots to the Lone Star State. Assistant Will Hardy arrives in Beantown after spending the past decade as a member of the Spurs organization. Hell, even Damon Stoudamire, who is reportedly joining the Celtics’ staff, closed out his 13-year NBA career with San Antonio.

With the Celtics suddenly feeling like the Spurs of the East, could Boston be setting themselves up nicely to serve as an ideal destination for a duo of Spurs champions and another wily vet who offers a consistent scoring punch?

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Could Udoka be the ‘Tiebreaker’ to Lure Spurs Players to Boston?

Mass Lives’ Brian Robb believes it’s certainly plausible. With current Spurs players Patty Mills and Rudy Gay set to hit the free agency market this summer and ex-Spur Danny Green also possibly on the move, the Celtics’ hiring of Udoka could pay dividends when it comes to filling out Boston’s roster. Here’s what Robb had to say regarding the prospect of the C’s taking a swing at acquiring the trio this offseason:

A pair of familiar faces in Udoka and Hardy could hold plenty of appeal to those guys if they are debating similar offers from other playoff teams. The other interesting part of this question to me will be what name on this list would appeals most to Boston’s front office.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported last month that Green ‘probably wouldn’t be a Sixer’ moving forward. Meanwhile, the Spurs are expected to be going in a younger direction as Mills and Gay hit the unrestricted market. Mills would be a great offensive spark plug off the bench but his size makes him a defensive liability. Gay provides reliable scoring as a lengthy wing and he’s added better 3-point range in recent years but he’s already 34. Green’s size also holds appeal even as his offensive game declines. A case could be made for any of the three but it’s possible Boston will be priced out of their markets. Either way, Udoka’s connection with any player in that group could be a tiebreaker in negotiations.

What Mills, Gay & Green Offer

Mills, a 32-year-old sharpshooter, looks like a highly feasible free-agent target for the Celtics. While not a clear-cut replacement for the recently traded Kemba Walker, Mills offers shooting prowess at a premium (38.8% career 3-point shooter) and has proven capable of functioning off the ball — a major bonus while playing alongside Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

As for Gay, the former No. 8 overall pick is no longer the 20-point per game scorer he was earlier in his career with the Grizzlies and Kings. What he is, however, is a highly productive rotational piece who slots in at power forward, or even possibly a small-ball 5 at times. Gay has extended his range from deep in recent years, knocking down 38.1-plus percent of his 3-point shots in two of the past three seasons. In 2020-21, Gay averaged 11.4 points per game. He’s also averaged 5.6 rebounds per game since 2018.

Green, who spent eight seasons with the Spurs from 2011-2018, has bounced around the league of late, playing for three teams in as many years. As Robb noted, it’s likely to become four teams in four years, as he’s unlikely to return to Philadelphia. Green, a three-time champion, is what he is at this point in his career. A career 40.1% 3-point shooter, the 34-year-old can knock down corner threes and play serviceable defense.

While none of these players offer roster transforming traits, they are the type of veteran pieces that help build out a contending roster. Not to mention, despite all the Damian Lillard and Bradley Beal rumors swirling, chances are these are the type of talents that the Celtics will more than likely have to settle for this offseason.

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