Celtics Could Target ‘Bargain’ Big Man When Nuggets’ Contract Expires

Thomas Bryant, Boston Celtics

Getty Thomas Bryant, Boston Celtics

As the Boston Celtics take stock of their roster ahead of the 2023 free agency period, adding another big man will likely be high on their priority list.

According to Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley, the Celtics should take a closer look at Denver Nuggets big man Thomas Bryant, who will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

“Thomas Bryant could be a sneaky-good option to stick on the second unit, though,” Buckley wrote. “He’s a 6’10”, 248-pound ball of energy who runs the floor and adds value on both ends. The 25-year-old can’t create offense or switch assignments on defense, but he’ll contribute on the interior with blocks, boards, and easy buckets.”

Despite struggling to see the floor during Denver’s run to the NBA Finals, Bryant is still season as a solid young big man who can provide upside during the regular season. This season, Bryant has played in 59 regular-season games, splitting his time between the Los Angeles Lakers and Nuggets.

During those 59 contests, the 25-year-old has averaged 9.8 points and 5.7 rebounds while shooting 62.3% from the field and 44.1% from deep.

Jalen Smith Listed as Another Potential Celtics Target

According to Sports Illustrated’s Bobby Krivitsky, Jalen Smith is another big man who could be a potential target for Brad Stevens and the Celtics’ front office.

“Jalen Smith is someone Boston expressed interest in leading up to the 2022 trade deadline,” Krivitsky wrote. “The tenth overall pick in Pritchard’s draft class (2020) is coming off a campaign where he averaged 9.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, and nearly a block per game in 18.8 minutes. For Indiana, it’s a chance to add a competitive on-ball defender who can play with and without the rock at the other end and showed himself well in the 2022 playoffs.”

Unlike Bryant, Smith would likely fit the Celtics system, as he can operate as a rim-runner, is mobile enough to be utilized in a switch-everything system, and can operate on the perimeter and as a roll man inside.

Smith played in 68 games for the Indiana Pacers this year, averaging 9.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1 assist per contest while converting his shots at a 47.6% clip from the field, but struggling from deep, hitting just 28.3% of his looks.

Celtics Could Trade Payton Pritchard to Lakers

While there is certainly a big interest in potential new faces joining the Celtics this summer, there is also the issue of moving on from some of the current roster. After losing his spot in the rotation following the addition of Malcolm Brogdon, Payton Pritchard could be one of the players on his way out of Boston.

According to Keagan Stiefel of NESN, the Lakers could emerge as a logical trade partner as the Celtics look to send the third-year guard to a team where he could garner legitimate playing time.

“The Lakers haven’t been able to shoot the ball for the majority of LeBron James’ tenure, which is something Pritchard could help with,” Stiefel wrote. “DeAngelo Russell and Austin Reaves are question marks, so a big-time backup plan could be bringing in a man who shot 46/40/100 in his second season.”

Pritchard was the 26th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft and had been a genuine role player for Boston during their run to the finals in 2022; as such, there will likely be multiple teams interested in adding him to their roster this summer.