With the Celtics sitting at 30-37 for the 8th seed in the NBA Playoffs there is much to be excited about with this team. Ever since the trade deadline we have been seeing a new competitive spark that we did not see for most of this year and all of last season. At this rate they will probably be looking at an 8th to 6th seed and may have a chance to make some noise in the playoffs and pull off an upset. However, I always like to think about the future and as a die hard Celtic fan I want to see them competing for conference titles and championships. It is no secret that this offseason the Celtics will certainly be big players so I want to take a look at some viable options that could give the Celtics the jump to the next level.
Al-Farouq Aminu (Unrestricted). Dallas Mavericks, Forward
Not the biggest star out there on the market, but he is a young athletic wing with some size that could potentially start on this team. He is a strong perimeter defender that could chase around some of the better small forwards in the league. He has long arms and the ability to steal the ball pretty well. On offense he is athletic, can get to the rim and shoot the three from the corner. His stats may not jump out at you with 5.4 points per game, but he is currently playing on a very deep Dallas team with very inconsistent minutes. He has all the physical tools to become an NBA starter and the Celtics could be the perfect fit.
Draymond Green (Restricted) Golden State Warriors, Forward
Draymond Green has received recognition of late for his contributing role in what has become the most successful season in franchise history for the Warriors. At 6’7 and 230 pounds, he has emerged as a major defensive presence and has been considered by some to be a sleeper pick for Defensive Player of the Year. He has the ability to defend on the perimeter and get inside to box out and collect a lot of rebounds. Something in particular that could help the Celtics as his average is 8.2 rebounds per game. On offense he has a solid three-point stroke, connecting on 35 percent of his threes. He is a restricted free agent so the Celtics would have to make a pretty substantial offer of at least five years, but he would be well worth it and is my personal favorite on this list.
Brandon Knight (Restricted) Phoenix Suns, Guard
Although the Celtics have a plethora of young talented guards between IT4, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart, adding Knight could certainly help this team. I am not by any means saying we should have a log jam in the back court, but if we were to sign Knight I think it would be best to trade Avery Bradley. Although he is still young and has started the last two seasons, he has certain weakness in his game that are difficult to improve. Knight is a much more complete player. He has the ability to run the offense and play off the ball. He is a tremendous three-point shooter, making 40 percent from downtown. He also is a gifted slasher and can get to the rim at will, posting averages of 17.2 points per game this season. On the defensive end he is not as tenacious as Bradley, but he is longer and has the ability to check bigger guards on that end of the floor and picks up some steals here and there. He is only in his third year and could potentially become one of the best guards in this league a few years down the road. Since he is restricted it will take close to a max deal to pry him away from the Suns who just acquired him, but the Suns tend to be very weary of dishing out big contracts. This could be the Celtics opportunity to throw Knight close to max money.
Greg Monroe (Unrestricted) Detroit Pistons, Center
The Center position has become a rare commodity in this league and Greg Monroe is certainly one of the top centers in this free-agent class. He is young, has size at 6’11 and has a very strong inside game. He is very efficient, shooting close to 50 percent and averaging 16 points per game. He has a variety of post moves and will only gain more as his career goes on. He also is a very strong rebounder and holds an average of 10.4 r.p.g this season. Rebounding has been a weakness for this team in the past and Monroe could quickly turn that around for the Celtics. He would be what I consider the first imposing force we have had at the Center position since Kendrick Perkins. He is unrestricted and due for a big pay day, but I would have no problem with the Celtics dishing out a max deal to Monroe. He has the potential to become an All-Star enforcer in the paint for decades.
Paul Pierce (Unrestricted Player Option) Washington Wizards, Forward
Need I say more? Paul Pierce coming back to the Celtics should happen purely based on sentimental reasons and what he means to this franchise and city. He is the modern face of the Celtics franchise and will always be a Celtic in our hearts. However, I truly feel that he could help this team for basketball reasons as well. Even at his age in a more limited role he can still fill the state sheet every once and a while. He still has solid average of 12.8 ppg in a much more limited role than when he was with the Celtics. I am not saying we need him to be a star and go out and score 20 points every night. He could provide great depth at the wing spot, which is currently very thin and add a veteran presence that this young team could use. The playoffs can be tough, especially on young teams and having a guy like Pierce, who has won a championship and played in many meaningful games, could be a tremendous help. If he decides to opt out, which I think is probable based on the Wizards poor play as of late, I think he would certainly look at the Celtics as a probably destination because of their recent success. The only possible competition I would see would be the Clippers because Pierce is from LA and could play for Doc Rivers.
By Spencer Roush @El_Spence_Man