2014 NBA free agent shooting guards available to Celtics
|06.28.14 at 9:58 am ET|
With NBA free agency opening Tuesday, we continue our annual examination of the options available to the Celtics at each position. Today’s focus: Shooting guards. Unlike recent seasons, C’s president of basketball operations Danny Ainge is expected to have more flexibility than any summer since 2007 when the league’s moratorium on free agent signings is lifted and the salary cap (an estimated $63.2 million) is officially set on July 10.
The Celtics have eight players under guaranteed contracts in 2014-15 for $48.5 million (Rajon Rondo $12.9M; Gerald Wallace $10.1M; Jeff Green $9.2M; Brandon Bass $6.9M; Joel Anthony $3.8M; Vitor Faverani $2.1M; Kelly Olynyk $2.1M; Jared Sullinger $1.4M) as well as $4.1 million in cap holds for first-round picks Marcus Smart and James Young. Pending decisions on or by Kris Humphries, Avery Bradley and Jerryd Bayless, the C’s could have as much as $10 million in cap space — or more if they use the stretch provision on Wallace.
Given Bradley’s unrestricted free agency and potential to command as much as $9 million annually, the Celtics face a difficult decision with no reliable shooting guard on the roster and limited options to upgrade the position through free agency. Ainge sounded optimistic about the possibility of re-signing Bradley when discussing the potential of a Rondo-Smart-Bradley guard rotation after the draft, but he’ll still need to bolster that corps in the coming months.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at their options, separating the current free agents into three categories.
THE AVERY BRADLEYS
Always known for his defense, Bradley took a step forward offensively, adding a reliable jump shot. His stock as a two-way player is still rising. Likewise, his quiet nature off the court and fierce competitiveness on it are pluses. Still, his injury history has to be a concern. Should Ainge consider his asking price too steep, few alternatives exist.
RICH MAN: LANCE STEPHENSON
2013-14: 2,752 min, 13.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 4.6 apg, 56.4 TS%, 14.7 PER
Why not? The Pacers want Stephenson back, so it will take an expensive offer to lure him away, and his baggage isn’t getting any lighter with a hefty salary.
COMMON MAN: NICK YOUNG
2013-14: 1,810 min, 17.9 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 1.5 apg, 56.4 TS%, 16.0 PER
Why? There are few, if any, things the Celtics need more than scoring, and Swaggy P brings that by the bucketload. Somehow, losing never seems to curb his confidence, and the C’s actually good use a bit of that swagger.
Why not? There aren’t a whole lot of TMZ cameras in Boston, so it might be hard to lure Young from the L.A. nightlife. Plus, his 18 shots per 36 minutes and absentminded defense aren’t exactly winning attributes.
POOR MAN: ALAN ANDERSON
2013-14: 1,773 min, 7.2 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 1.0 apg, 52.5 TS%, 9.5 PER
Why? The Smart pick seems to suggest Stevens is hoping the Celtics develop a toughness that wasn’t quite there last season, and Anderson’s mentality — particularly on the defensive end — seems to mesh well with that style.
Why not? As much as the C’s need a veteran presence in the locker room, it’s hard to imagine them dedicating a roster spot to a 31-year-old journeyman shooting guard who can’t shoot during this rebuilding process.
HOMELESS MEN: Vince Carter (1,973 min, 11.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.6 apg, 53.9 TS%, 15.9 PER); Rodney Stuckey (1,950 min, 13.9 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.1 apg, 51.6 TS%, 14.0 PER); Ray Allen (1,936 min, 9.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.0 apg, 59.0 TS%, 12.8 PER).
THE CHRIS JOHNSONS
A natural forward, the 24-year-old Johnson took the Celtics by storm for a few weeks. Admittedly, a little effort was all it took to capture their attention. Soon, though, his progression regressed to the mean upon signing a team-friendly deal that locked him up for short money should they exercise his option. If not, here are more backups.
RICH MAN: JODIE MEEKS
2013-14: 2,556 min, 15.7 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.4 spg, 60.1 TS%, 14.7 PER
Why? In his second season on the Lakers, Meeks, 26, emerged as the starting 2 guard in Kobe Bryant‘s absence, shooting 40 percent from 3-point range.
Why not? Outside of his scoring prowess on a weak Lakers roster, Meeks didn’t bring much to the table in the passing, rebounding and defensive departments.
COMMON MAN: THABO SEFOLOSHA
2013-14: 1,584 min, 6.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.3 spg, 51.7 TS%, 10.4 PER
Why? A starter on a Thunder squad that has won 50 games in each of the past four non-lockout seasons, the 30-year-old Sefolosha brings defense, grit and all the intangibles you’d want from a bench wing.
Why not? After two straight seasons of shooting better than 40 percent from 3-point range, Sefolosha’s long-range shooting dipped to 31.6 this past winter, partially due to a calf strain that cost him 20 games.
POOR MAN: JIMMER FREDETTE
2013-14: 519 min, 5.6 ppg, 1.3 apg, 1.1 rpg, 57.8 TS%, 15.8 PER
Why? Ever since Fredette broke Ainge’s career scoring record at BYU, it seems the undersized shooting guard with a deadly long-distance stroke has been linked to the Celtics in one rumor after another.
Why not? Despite a career 40.1 3-point percentage, the same knocks against him coming out of college (size, defense) still follow Fredette, leading to his buyout two years removed from being drafted No. 8 overall.
HOMELESS MEN: Anthony Morrow (1,426 min, 8.4 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 57.0 TS%, 13.9 PER); Ben Gordon (279 min, 5.2 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 42.2 TS%, 6.4 PER); Kent Bazemore (911 min, 6.0 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 1.4 apg, 51.5 TS%, 11.2 PER).
THE CHRIS BABBS
Either not worth the asking price or not worth any price, these guys are a dime a dozen and wouldn’t be an upgrade over Babb or any other available shooting guard at the league minimum. Thanks, but no thanks.
MarShon Brooks: 316 min, 4.5 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 55.1 TS%, 15.5 PER
Shannon Brown: 251 min, 2.2 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 41.9 TS%, 4.7 PER
Jared Cunningham: 80 min, 2.0 ppg, 46.4 TS%, 8.5 PER
Malcolm Delaney (Europe): 1,908 min, 12.3 ppg, 4.4 apg, 3.3 rpg, 58.2 TS%, 17.2 PER
Andrew Goudelock (Europe): 1,236 min, 19.3 ppg, 2.9 apg, 2.0 rpg, 59.6 TS%, 24.1 PER
Richard Hamilton (2012-13): 1,088 min, 9.8 ppg, 2.4 apg, 1.7 rpg, 48.1 TS%, 10.6 PER
Othyus Jeffers: 47 min, 1.5 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 58.0 TS%, 6.9 PER
Dahntay Jones: 1,016 min, 3.4 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 48.2 TS%, 6.4 PER
Keith Langford (Europe): 1,967 min, 17.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.3 apg, 61.8 TS%, 20.3 PER
E’Twaun Moore: 1,506 min, 6.3 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 1.4 apg, 51.3 TS%, 11.1 PER
Mickael Pietrus (2012-13): 386 min, 5.3 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 47.2 TS%, 6.0 PER
Garrett Temple: 638 min, 1.8 ppg, 1.0 apg, 43.1 TS%, 7.8 PER
If, as expected, Dwyane Wade opts into his $20.2 million deal this season, Bradley becomes the second-best 2 guard on the market. And since the Celtics have the right to match any offer for Bradley, it would be a lot easier to keep him than chase Stephenson’s services. The question is how much it’ll cost. While four years and $28 million seems like a fair deal for Bradley, don’t be surprised if another team drives that up to $8 or $9 million annually.
If Bradley squeezes an extra couple million out of the C’s, they might split minutes for Green, Wallace, Young and Johnson at shooting guard and small forward in order to avoid dedicating more dollars on the wing. Fredette could be an inexpensive addition, since he’s still just 25 and could be a nice fit as a role playing 3-point specialist.