Rival Looking to Reunite Ex-Celtics Starter With Gordon Hayward: Report

Hornets eyeing ex-Celtic Daniel Theis

Getty Daniel Theis #27 and Gordon Hayward #20 of the Boston Celtics celebrate after defeating the Orlando Magic in a NBA basketball game.

The Charlotte Hornets — a team already littered with former Boston Celtics players on their roster — may be looking to bring yet another into the fold this offseason. According to The Charlotte Observer’s Rick Bonnell, there is a belief around North Carolina that the team could make a run at ex-Celtic turned Chicago Bulls big-man, Daniel Theis.

“Mitch Kupchak (Hornets GM) said yesterday that he could see adding multiple centers this off-season,” Bonnell tweeted. “A name I’ve heard might be on the list of options: Free agent-to-be Daniel Theis.”

Kupchak recently spoke to reporters where he made no qualms about his team’s lacking frontcourt — specifically the center position. “You’d love to get some rim protection, some better rebounding,” said Kupchak, who later noted, Charlotte could add “a center, or several centers,” this summer.

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Celtics Missed Theis This Season

Undrafted in 2013, Theis spent three-and-a-half seasons in Boston before being dealt to Chicago at last March’s trade deadline. The German big man averaged 9.6 points and 5.5 rebounds per game over 65 games split between the Celtics and Bulls this season.

While the numbers are far from gaudy, his presence along the C’s frontcourt was sorely missed down the final stretch of this season.

“He [Theis] was a big reason why we were defensively ranked where we were,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens admitted prior to a mid-April tilt vs. Chicago, via the Chicago Tribune. “Our defense has gotten better here, but we’re still learning to communicate as well as he did and direct as well as he does — He’s a guy that we miss, but I’m happy for him. He’s playing really well there. He’s a very versatile player who cares about winning, so he’s a guy that you want on your team.”

In 236 career regular-season games (106 starts) with the Celtics, Theis averaged 7.2 points on 55.4% shooting from the field and 34.5% from beyond the arc. He also added 4.9 rebounds and 0.9 blocks. Theis saw his scoring output climb to new heights upon his arrival in the Windy City, as his 10.0 ppg average over his 23 games (14 starts) with the Bulls this season marked a new career-high.

If Theis were to ultimately find his way to Charlotte, he’d be surrounded by a handful of familiar faces, including the likes of former Celtics teammates Gordon Hayward, Terry Rozier and Brad Wanamaker.

Hornets in Desperate Need of a Big Man

Bismack Biyombo and Cody Zeller did most of the heavy lifting at the five-spot this season for the Hornets. The serviceable, albeit underwhelming, duo is set to hit unrestricted free agency. As for youngsters such as 2020 second-round picks Vernon Carey and Nick Richards, Kupchak admits it would be a “stretch” to think they’d be able to hold down the majority of minutes at the center position come 2021-22.

While they may be lacking in the frontcourt, Kupchak believes the aforementioned tandem of ex-Celtics Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier, alongside rookie phenom LaMelo Ball, will be enough to turn Charlotte into a free-agent destination spot.

“I think free agents around the league look at the pace we play, and players want to play that way. I think we have a player’s coach,” Kupchak said, via Bonnell. “And if (free agents) remember why (Ball) is so much fun to play with — his ability to pass — I don’t know why players wouldn’t want to come here to play with him.”


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