The Boston Celtics have not been too active in free agency, the only notable signing being the deal to keep Avery Bradley in Boston. The only other move the Celtics made this offseason was the trade with Brooklyn and Cleveland that brought Tyler Zeller and Marcus Thornton to the C’s.
Let’s take a look at these players and grade how the summer has been so far for the Celtics.
As discussed before, Bradley was arguably the Celtics’ most important piece of their starting lineup, producing above average Real Plus-Minus and WAR stats. He is notorious for his defense and for annoying the other teams’ guards all game.
If he can improve on his offense, the Rondo-Bradley backcourt could be one of the scariest in the league. Even without improving on his offense, the Rondo-Bradley pairing, and really any combination of Rondo, Bradley, and Smart should keep the league’s best guards in check.
Zeller will be a a solid backup center. He is above league average in both PER and Real Plus-Minus, and slightly below average in WAR. Between Zeller and Kelly Olynyk, the Celtics should be able to develop one of the two into a center capable of starting in the NBA.
Zeller also provides the option of moving Jared Sullinger into the power forward position, as a combination of Sullinger/Zeller should provide a more meaningful impact on the game than a combination of Brandon Bass/Sullinger.
Thornton has the ability to provide some solid backup minutes behind Bradley and Marcus Smart. He is a below average guard, but with a career field goal percentage of 43%, he should provide some instant offense off the bench. He is also on an expiring contract, and could be used a potential trade piece down the line. I feel like that is the most likely scenario.
While the Celtics did not have the flashiest offseason, I would still give it a respectable B- grade. Locking up Bradley was important and they basically received Zeller and Thornton for free. They gave up their 2015 2nd round pick, but it is top-55 protected. If the Celtics don’t send it to the Cavs in 2015, they have no obligation to send anything else. That was a great deal, considering Zeller was a top-20 pick two years ago and Thornton’s contract could be a valuable trade chip.
I would have liked to see the Celtics be a little more aggressive in free agency, or to have finalized a deal for Kevin Love before LeBron signed with the Cavs. There still is plenty of time before the trade deadline to make some moves, and next summer should be more exciting when the Celtics have more cap room. If the roster stands as is, the Celtics do have a chance at competing for the 8th seed in the wide-open Eastern Conference. They are only a few pieces away from being a true contender.