Celtics ‘Will Have Interest’ in Spurs’ Versatile Forward: Report

Celtics interested in Rudy Gay

Getty Rudy Gay #22 and DeMar DeRozan #10 of the San Antonio Spurs during the second half of the play-in tournament game against the Memphis Grizzlies.

NBA free agency begins on August 2nd at 6 p.m. ET. And when it does, the Boston Celtics “will have interest” in [veteran] Rudy Gay, alongside Brooklyn Nets forward Jeff Green, per Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe.

“According to a league source, the Celtics prefer to pursue a player with extensive experience and are focused on adding size and shooting,” wrote Himmelsbach.

Gay would seemingly fit that mold.

While no longer the 20.0 points per game scorer he was earlier in his career with Memphis or Sacramento, the now 34-year-old Gay has settled in as a quality combo forward with a budding ability to stretch the floor during these latter years. Never making more than 34.7% of his shots from 3-point range over the entirety of his other three other stints in the NBA, Gay has extended his range since arriving in San Antonio in 2015. The UConn product has hit on 36.4% of his attempts from beyond the arc with the Spurs, including 38.1% this past season. His 3-point shooting percentage of 40.2% in 2018 remains a career-best.

In 2020-21, Gay appeared in 63 games (one start) with the Spurs, averaging 11.4 points per game. The 6-foot-8-inch, 250 pounder is interchangeable at either forward position and has even moonlighted from time to time as a small-ball big, averaging 5.6 rebounds per game since 2018.

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A Common Theme

Gay is the latest in a number of reported or rumored players that the Celtics are expected to have interest in adding come free agency — all of which fit an eerily similar MO.

As we are all very much aware of at this point, Boston isn’t the most financially endowed franchise out there this summer. In other words, adding a bonafide star player alongside Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown isn’t very likely. Then again, with the way president Brad Stevens has been operating over these past few months, we wouldn’t dare rule out such an outcome.

Still, the most likely scenario is adding quality pieces around their stars as opposed to another star alongside the two Jays. And Boston clearly has their preferences when it comes to potential depth adds and secondary contributors on the open market.

Gay, the aforementioned Jeff Green, point guard Patty Mills, big man Kelly Olynyk, they’re all highly thought-of veteran presences with at least some sort of tie to the Celtics’ organization. Gay and Mills have both played under Celtics coach Ime Udoka, who served as an assistant on Gregg Popovich’s Spurs staff for seven years. Green and Olynyk, on the other hand, are former Celtics players, each of whom played under Stevens during his eight-year stint as Boston’s head coach.


Olynyk too Pricey for Celtics?

As for Olynyk specifically, it feels as if ever since he signed with the Miami Heat as an unrestricted free agent in 2017, the Celtics have had their eye on reuniting with the Gonzaga product. However, a stellar finish to last season may ultimately spoil any chances of the two parties getting back together.

Per Himmelsbach, “Olynyk’s strong finish to last season after being traded to the [Houston] Rockets could keep him out of the Celtics’ price range, but Olynyk loved his time in Boston and kept a home here after departing in 2017.”

In 27 games with the Rockets, Olynyk averaged 19.0 points, 8.4 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.8 3-point field-goals per contest. Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley helped put those numbers in perspective, highlighting that “only six players [in the NBA] averaged 18 points, eight rebounds, four assists and [one] three this season, and they either were All-Stars or have been in the past.”

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