Oh, you thought the Boston Celtics were done? Think again. Following a flurry of moves less than 24 hours after a mostly quiet draft, the Celtics now look onto the upcoming free agency class with a reworked roster that by the sound of it, will continue to alter its appearance.
According to the Boston Herald’s Mark Murphy, the Celtics are eyeing a reunion between their head coach Ime Udoka and one of his former point guards, Patty Mills.
“Hearing that the Celtics have a list of ‘seven or eight’ free agent targets, including [San Antonio] Spurs point guard Patty Mills,” Murphy tweeted.
The Australian guard appeared in 68 games off the bench for the Spurs last season, averaging 10.8 points, 1.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists. While he isn’t the youngest guard on the market (32 years old), Mills remains a vaunted sharpshooter from beyond the arc, knocking down 38.8% of his career 3-point attempts.
News of Boston’s interest in Mills comes on the heels of reports that link the team to yet another prominent point guard on the free agency market. The Celtics are expected to vie for the services of Lonzo Ball alongside the Chicago Bulls and Toronto Raptors, per Shams Charania of The Athletic.
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Can the Udoka Connection Bring Mills to Boston?
Mills, who will be an unrestricted free agent, is coming off a four-year, $48 million deal with the San Antonio Spurs. Throughout his NBA career, Mills has earned north of $61 million and could theoretically be willing to ink a team-friendly deal if it means guaranteed minutes and another run at a title — something he hasn’t sniffed since 2014. It also doesn’t hurt that he has quite a long history with coach Udoka.
The new Celtics head-man originally joined the Spurs’ staff back in 2012, one season after Mills made his way over to San Antonio after two years in Portland. Over the next seven seasons, Udoka served under Gregg Popovich, coaching up Mills along the way.
Mass Lives’ Brian Robb noted back in July, that Udoka’s connection to Mills — or really any player with Spurs ties — “could be a tiebreaker in negotiations.”
While free agent signings cannot be made official until the new league year opens at 12:01 p.m. ET on August 6th, teams are allowed to negotiate with players starting Monday, August 2nd at 6 p.m. ET.
As for whether Mills will be agreeing upon a new deal during the negotiation period, “that’s kept in the inner circle,” he told Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News. “In the Australian trenches.”
Celtics Point Guard Outlook
Mills would by no means be the answer at point guard for the Celtics. Instead, he’d serve as a quality scoring punch off the bench. Over his 10 years in San Antonio, the 6-foot-1-inch, 180-pound Mills has averaged 9.4 points per game while shooting 43.0% from the field and 38.9% from 3-point range.
As things currently stand, Marcus Smart still looks to be penciled as the starter at the position with Kemba Walker now residing in Oklahoma City. The team did just acquire former top-five pick, Kris Dunn, in the Tristan Thompson three-team trade. Yet, he shouldn’t be perceived as much of a threat to Smart at the moment. Nor should stashed guard Yam Madar — although the intrigue and upside are certainly there.
One thing that is for certain is that president Brad Stevens clearly refuses to remain stagnant this offseason, meaning more moves — likely at the point guard position — are sure to come.