If this last 48 hours have been any indication for fans, this Boston Celtics offseason is bound to be a fast-paced carousel of roster turnover and salary cap creation to round out the roster into more of a contender, or even further, potentially land a bigger fish. With the Josh Richardson trade to Boston now made official, what does new President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens have up his sleeve for the rest of the offseason and beyond?
What Is The Boston Celtics’ Plan After The Josh Richardson Trade?
Welcome Josh Richardson
To say the Josh Richardson trade came out of nowhere may be a bit of an undersell, but it is not exactly a bad fit between the two sides whatsoever. Richardson is an above-average two-way wing that definitely enhances the Celtics’ ability to switch of defense, while also providing a helpful scoring load on offense. Not a go-to scoring option, Richardson still provides a steady contribution on a nightly basis that was surely missed on the roster a season ago with the team never being fully present on the court.
While he spent the last two seasons as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers and Dallas Mavericks, fans may remember Richardson from his run with the Miami Heat. In each of his four seasons in Miami, Richardson progressed in an upward trajectory year after year, as he flourished as the team’s point guard when they decided to go big and rely on their size and athleticism that the team possessed. With Kemba Walker now gone, and the league moving towards a focus on taller lead guards, perhaps Richardson could recapture some of that efficiency as the lead guard in spots for Boston.
If the Celtics have a bigger picture in mind for how the offseason is set to go, then the Josh Richardson trade should make them par for the course for the moment.
Patty Mills Rumors
First off, not only did Boston welcome Josh Richardson on Friday night, but the team also acquired Kris Dunn and Bruno Fernando from the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for Tristan Thompson (more on him later). Dunn provides the team with added depth and another perimeter defender, while Fernando is still a raw talent. However, the Celtics are also linked to another veteran point guard on the market: Patty Mills.
Mills, who will be 33 when the 2021-22 season starts, is the epitome of minute insurance in the NBA. He is among the few role players in the league who could theoretically be plugged into any of the 30 teams in the league and flourish in just about any role they put him in. As a member of the San Antonio Spurs for the last decade, Mills’ game is a product of one of the most excellent and efficient franchises in league history. He is just the type of player that the Boston Celtics have been missing from their team these last two, three seasons.
Backup point guard minutes are extremely valuable in today’s NBA. Having someone who is capable to facilitate and pace the offense while the starters are off the floor is so crucial to not just regular-season success, but specifically the postseason in a seven-game series. Not the flashiest name, Mills is perhaps even the perfect fit to play and pace alongside Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown in the starting lineup as well. If Boston is truly in play for Mills and can manage to bring him in on a team-friendly deal, then that could be an under-the-radar move with one of the bigger impacts this offseason.
From Too Many Bigs To Not Enough?
24 hours ago, the Celtics had an absolute logjam at center, with minutes having to be dispersed amongst Rob Williams, Al Horford, Tristan Thompson, and Moses Brown. Now, with the Josh Richardson trade made official, the Celtics shipped out Thompson and Brown and look like they are gonna ride with Timelord and “Average” Al this season. Moving on from Thompson seemed like a likely move for Boston this offseason, as he makes just over $9 million, which is a very movable contract and opens up a little extra spending money for Boston to make other moves. Trading Brown just 43 days after getting him was a bit of a surprise.
After having talked myself into believing Brown may have a role on this team, it was a disappointment to see him go so quickly without the slightest glimpse of a sample size. His upside is extremely intriguing as a 21-year-old, especially after watching him grab over 20 rebounds against Boston last season, but as of Saturday, July 31, it looks like Boston believes in Rob and Al the most of the four options. With the two now splitting minutes at center, it’ll be interesting to see which sees the starting lineup come October.
Does Ime Udoka see Williams as the long-term center on this team, despite his injury history reading like a CVS receipt, or does he still have some developing to do behind 35-year-old Horford? Horford is still capable of having an impact on this team, but will it impact Williams’ growth with him more than likely be the focus alongside Tatum and Brown now?
Is Evan Fournier Still In Play?
As of July 31, contract talks have stalled between the Celtics and Evan Fournier with the Frenchman having asked for $80 million paid over four years. Boston has been unwilling to comply with the French Olympian, which is understandable after the Josh Richardson trade is now official and the organization in play for plenty of other fish in the sea.
The question that Boston should be asking themselves is “What Evan Fournier Are We Paying For?” Will it be the one that joined the team at the deadline that was inconsistent due to minutes regression, a COVID diagnosis, and a lesser role, or is it the one that thoroughly outclassed every member of Team USA in the Olympics? If the Celtics do decide to extend Fournier, are they sacrificing their chances of acquiring a Bradley Beal-esque player in the offseason or potentially next free agency?
Unfortunately for Boston, Fournier signed with the Knicks on August 2nd.
There are tons of unanswered questions in this piece, but one thing is certainly for sure for the Celtics after the Josh Richardson trade. Brad Stevens has balls. Fans have been clamoring for a leader who is not afraid to make a move and stop sitting on his hands, and Stevens has done just that in just over a month. He is far from done, but at the moment, we have no reason not to trust Brad and his judgment. If he keeps making moves like the ones he has so far, then we may be on the cusp of a roster capable of contention sooner than later in Boston.