Now that the NBA has officially announced a return date to resume its season, we also learned the dates of the draft lottery, NBA draft, and when free agency begins. Free agency is scheduled to start on October 18th, which is less than a week after a potential game seven would be played in the NBA Finals.
Free agency would begin in the middle of October, giving teams about a month and a half to make signings before the new season starts on December 1st.
The Boston Celtics will enter the 2021 season with most of their key players back. Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, Daniel Theis, Robert Williams, and Grant Williams are all expected to be back.
Gordon Hayward and Enes Kanter are expected to pick up their player options to return for at least one more season. Then you have bench players like Brad Wanamaker, Carsen Edwards, Semi Ojeleye, Romeo Langford, and Vincent Poirier who might not have secured their spots on the team just yet. Yes, a lot of these players are still under contract, but Trader Danny doesn’t hesitate to pull the trigger on a trade if he thinks it’ll benefit the team.
The Celtics are also expected to have three first-round picks for this upcoming NBA Draft. I wish I could say that the Celtics won’t use all of their picks and instead trade out of the draft or trade for a role player, but I can’t do that. Last summer, the Celtics had four picks in the draft and didn’t trade any of them. I honestly can’t imagine Danny Ainge adding three more rookies to this team, but who knows at this point.
Assuming the Celtics make some room to add a key rotational player or two, there are a few players in mind who I believe Boston should target to give their bench a much-needed boost next season.
The 6’6 sharpshooter is set to hit the market this offseason, and it’s unknown if the Nets will try to bring him back or go after another superstar to pair alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. This past season Harris was averaging close to 14 points (47% FG, 41% 3PT) and a little over four rebounds a game. He has shot 42 percent from three throughout his NBA career.
The Celtics need shooting, and they would benefit massively from having somebody like Harris on their squad. He’d fit in perfectly, and provide the Celtics with a spark off the bench, but can also hang with the starters if they need shooting out there. It would require the Celtics to make a few minor moves, but Joe Harris could, and should be, on the Celtics radar.
Losing Aron Baynes really sucked for Boston. Ultimately, it helped clear cap space to sign Kemba Walker to a max contract, but it still sucked. Baynes was a fan favorite in Boston, but besides being a fan favorite, he was a hard worker who gave 200% every time he stepped on the court.
He improved his three-point shooting drastically during his last season in Boston and became an even better shooter and scorer while in Phoenix. Besides shooting, Aron Baynes provides rebounding, shot-blocking, and grit that the Celtics need. Boston would have to part ways with one or two of their centers, like Poirier and Kanter, but Baynes would make up for their loss and then some. He knows the team and the system all too well for this to not work.
The 24-year-old forward was beginning to make a name for himself in Detroit after Andre Drummond got shipped to Cleveland. After the Drummond trade, Wood found himself averaging 22 points and 10.2 rebounds a game while shooting 54 percent from the field and 37.3 percent from behind the arc. And not for nothing, he tweeted that he wants to win, and honestly, that won’t happen in Detroit.
This signing would be a lot trickier compared to the players I mentioned above because Wood will be looking for a decent payday this offseason. The Celtics would definitely have to make a few moves to make this work, but it would be a spectacular signing if they can pull it off. Wood was somebody the Celtics targeted at the trade deadline, so we’ll see if he’ll be on their radar once again when free agency starts.
There were a ton of question marks surrounding Dwight Howard before he arrived in Los Angeles at the beginning of the season. Nobody knew if Howard would not only accept a smaller role on a championship contender but if he had much left in the tank. To make a long story short, he excelled as a backup center and has plenty left in the tank.
It would be hard for him to leave LA considering he’s played so well there, but if he were to leave for another championship contender, Boston would be a fantastic landing spot for him. He’d be a phenomenal backup center for Boston, and might even find himself starting in some situations, depending on the matchup. He proved he can still provide rebounding and shot-blocking to a contender, and that’s exactly what Boston needs.
Screw it. This is most likely a pipe-dream and somebody the Celtics won’t be able to afford to sign, but Marc Gasol could take the Celtics to the next level. Look what he did when he got traded to Toronto. He elevated them to another level, and they ended up becoming NBA champions.
Gasol has the perfect set of skills that could put the Celtics on the same level as teams in LA and Milwaukee. Between his playmaking, rebounding, and scoring abilities, he’d provide the Celtics with more than what they could ask for from a center. I can’t forget to mention Gasol is a former Defensive Player of the Year, so throw in his defensive abilities, and the Celtics have a starting center that would complement the entire lineup so well.
Toronto has some decisions to make as far as who they’re going to re-sign. They have to sign Fred VanVleet to a new deal, but also have to worry about bringing back Serge Ibaka too. While the Raptors have tough decisions to make, the Celtics can swoop in and steal Gasol from Toronto. Will this happen? Probably not, but let me dream.
Those are five free agent targets that I believe the Celtics should at least consider looking at this offseason. A few moves would have to be made to sign some of these players, but those moves can turn the Boston Celtics into a legitimate championship contender. These guys can take the Celtics to the next level. It’ll be interesting to see what Danny Ainge has up his sleeve this offseason.
Photo: AP Photo/Michael Dwyer