Friday, May 16, 2014

Some Key Free Agents

With the Draft Lottery four days away the fate of the Celtics is still up in the air. Danny will have his hands full on decisions to make, which include looking at key free agents already on this current roster (Bayless, Humphries, Pressey, and Bradley), and some good players that are available around the league. Besides the LeBrons and Melos that can opt-out, here is a list of candidates I came up with that Ainge should consider come July 1st.

Point Guards:

Rodney Stuckey (14 PPG, 2.2 APG, 44 FG%) 2013-14 Earnings: $8.5 Million
Despite a disappointing 29-53 record for the Pistons, Stuckey was a bright spot in the lineup this season after the previous two lackluster years for the guard in Detroit. He can start and come off the bench, and has been a consistent sixth-man his whole career. He can sub in for Rondo or play with him at the two spot. Rodney definitely is an upgrade over Bayless in my opinion. With Stan Van Gundy as the newest team president and head coach, he might put up a fight to keep the longest tenured Piston in Motown.

Ramon Sessions (10.7 PPG, 4.7 APG, 43 FG%) 2013-14 Earnings: $5 Million
Always been a very serviceable and underrated guard for a long time. Unfortunately he has bounced around the league for the last four years (four different teams). When given the chance he is a good playmaker and shooter. Could be a nice fit behind Rondo and he won't demand much, money wise. Could start or come off the bench, he’s pretty coachable. It’s a win-win if the Celtics decide to bring in a veteran, who can play either guard position for cheap. I don’t think he’s a part of Milwaukee’s long-term plans.

Honorable Mentions: Del Harris, Kirk Hinrich, and Shaun Livingston

Shooting Guards:

Lance Stephenson (13.8 PPG, 4.6 APG, 47 FG%) 2013-14 Earnings: $981,349
Obviously this would be ideal if Boston decides to not bring Avery Bradley back. Giving the last two-three months in the Pacers’ locker room and their dropping tranquility levels, most signs point to Stephenson as the main culprit. So does Danny take a risk on a ‘hot head’ for the greater good? I see Lance and Rondo as easily the best backcourt in the East, possibly the league if these two were to be paired together. At least the best rebounding backcourt in the NBA as the Pacer guard averaged 7.2 boards this season. Someone is clearly due for a good contract, despite how Indiana’s postseason ends.

Jodie Meeks (15.7 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 46 FG%) 2013-14 Earnings: $1.5 Million
Meeks was the Lakers best scoring option, second to ‘Swaggy P’ in a horrible year in Los Angeles. He can thank Kobe for being out all season for his playing time. He showed he’s a great shooter especially from behind the arc. He’s due for a boost in his salary and I think he could call Boston home and he won’t break the bank. Can come off the bench and start, either way he’s pure offense (1.8 APG). I think he’s a wild card that few teams will look at this summer.

Honorable mentions: Thabo Sefolosha, Alan Anderson

Small Forwards:

Luol Deng (16 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 43 FG%) 2013-14 Earnings: $14 Million
Having been injured for most of this season, and was traded to Cavs so the Bulls could clear up cap space to jump in the Melo sweepstakes. Deng’s numbers were slightly down this year, considering the team making a push towards the playoffs. There is no guaranteed market for the forward giving his recent health struggles. Is he a max contract player? It’s hard to say, but if the Celtics look to trade Uncle Jeff or move him to the four, Luol could flourish with Rondo as his point guard. The question is how much is he worth according to Ainge? Could he be Paul Pierce 2.0?

Gordon Hayward (16.2 PPG 5.1 RPG, 41 FG%) 2013-14 Earnings: $3.4 Million

Though he is a restricted free agent on this list, Utah could see their forward of the future slip through their fingers. Especially since they didn’t offer Hayward an extension, a team could pay him a lot more than $4.7 mil a year (his qualifying offer). The Celtics could very well be that team if they choose to move in a different direction in terms of their offense on the wing. Did I mention the Butler alumnus is a great passer (5.2 APG)? I don’t think coach Brad Stevens would appose to the idea.

Honorable Mentions: Paul Pierce, Trevor Ariza, and Danny Granger

Power Forwards:

Pau Gasol (17.4 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 48 FG%) 2013-14 Earnings: $19 Million
I don’t think he is a max-contract guy anymore, but is still a premier frontcourt presence. When healthy he is still one of the most complete power forwards/centers in the game. If the Lakers look to start from scratch and look elsewhere for a big, the Celtics could be a landing spot for the Spaniard. He is very much the two-way player Danny needs on this roster. A change of scenery and a pass first point guard could get Gasol back to his all-star level.

Andray Blatche (11.2 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 48 FG%) 2013-14 Earnings: $1.4 Million
For a player that once averaged 20/10, he’s too talented to be only making what he made this season. With a toxic team like the Wizards of three four years ago, plus his off court indiscretions, Blatche is a team player now, looking for a permanent home address. For a low risk high reward kind of player he is, the Celtics offense could be a system where he can be utilized better in than Brooklyn’s. Then again Boston already has a ton of players at the four to begin with.

Honorable Mention: DeJuan Blair


Greg Monroe (15.2 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 50 FG%) 2013-14 Earnings: $4 Million

With the arrival of Josh Smith and the continued emergence of Andre Drummond, Monroe became the odd man out in a high expectation type season in Detroit. Now the Celtics can reap the benefits to address their center needs and steal away another restricted free agent ($5.5 mil qualifying offer). If Danny does not draft or plan on taking a big next month, then the target should be on this man in July. Though his numbers didn’t improve from his previous season, he still can get the job done especially with Rondo feeding him on the low post or in transition. Do we sense a theme here yet folks?

Marcin Gortat (13.2 PPG, 9.5 RPG 54 FG%) 2013-14 Earnings: $7.8 Million
The most underrated center in the game that has never found a permanent team in his seven years in the league. Got a good raise in his third year in Orlando (summer of 2009 as a restricted free-agent, when Dallas tried to steal him away for $34 million) and was barely seeing the floor, only to be traded in 2010 and became a double-double machine in Phoenix. Bet the Suns would have made the playoffs if they kept him around. Gortat would be perfect here in Boston, and become a fan favorite and probably an all-star. The market for him will depend if the Wizards want to bring him back as one of their core pieces for the future in a weak Eastern Conference.

Honorable Mention: Spencer Hawes

The better free agent class is clearly next summer in 2015. Available players include the likes of Roy Hibbert, Brook Lopez, Robin Lopez and even Kenneth Farid. Others names include LaMarcus Aldridge, Marc Gasol and of course Kevin Love who all will be looking for new deals. But there are some diamonds in the rough in this year’s class that could be locked up and lead to even bigger and better signings come next offseason. It should be interesting for your green team in the upcoming weeks.

What do we in Celtics Nation live by these days?  ‘In Danny we trust,’ right?

Joel Pavón

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