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Celtics should be eyeing these free agents 06.30.16 at 9:25 am ET
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Mar 10, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Atlanta Hawks forward Al Horford (15) shoots the ball against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Hawks 104-96. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Celtics reportedly will target Hawks forward Al Horford in free agency. (Tom Szczerbowski/USA Today Sports)

Assuming the Celtics don’t land Kevin Durant, they’re going to need to shift their focus to signing other key free agents to improve their roster.

According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, the Celtics will target Al Horford when free agency officially begins July 1, and will be one of many teams, including the Lakers, Rockets, Magic, Pistons, Nets and Wizards, interested in the nine-year pro. (A Thursday report indicated the Thunder also plan to make a push for him.)

If the Celtics don’t land Durant or Horford, what kind of players do they need?

“We need good players,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said last Friday as the team introduced five of its six draft picks in Waltham.

Brad Stevens was more specific.

“The biggest needs as we look at it are continuing to grow ourselves on the offensive end and what we decide to do with regard to protecting the rim,” the coach said.

There are a handful of players available who could help in scoring and rim protection, which could push the Celtics into contending with the champion Cavaliers.

However, the most talented players come with an expensive price tag. The Celtics will have to weigh their options and target the players who are worth the big bucks, while also looking to at second- and third-tier options who offer plenty of upside.

Here are four free agents the Celtics could sign this summer.

2015-16: 15.2 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.5 blocks

Horford sits atop the list — his ability to stretch the floor on offense and defend opposing big men makes him a great fit in Boston. His leadership qualities will be beneficial for this young Celtics team — along with his experience. Horford, who turned 30 earlier this month, is also consistent — while his 15.2 points and 7.3 rebounds last season aren’t numbers that are going to amaze you, his dependability will make a big impact. He would give the Celtics their first consistent scoring big man since Kevin Garnett. And much like Garnett was for the Celtics, Horford is a great pick-and-roll guy who can knock down shots and score in the post. He is a max guy, but is one of the exceptional players of this free agency class who deserves a contract worth over $20 million annually. Placing an All-Star like Horford alongside Isaiah Thomas would bring this Celtics team to the second round of the playoffs, with potential to go beyond.  It would be a huge step toward contenting with the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference.

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Read More: Al Horford, Evan Turner, Ian Mahinmi, Nicolas Batum
2012-13 Celtics free agent options at small forward 06.28.12 at 11:48 am ET
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Two-thirds of the Celtics roster that came within a game of reaching a third NBA finals in five years joins NBA free agency on July 1. Anyone from Kevin Garnett to Keyon Dooling can leave Boston on July 11 once the league’s audit determines the salary cap (an estimated $58 million). We’re examining the C’s free agent options at each position. Now starting: Small forwards (Also see: Centers, shooting guards and power forwards).

Believe it or not, Paul Pierce‘s ailing foot and Jeff Green‘s season-ending heart problem meant the Celtics began last season with Sasha Pavlovic as the starting three and Marquis Daniels as his backup. Of course, Pierce returned, and the signing of Mickael Pietrus helped solidify the position in Green’s absence. The C’s first order of business after convincing Garnett to return should be re-signing Green. Pietrus seems intent on coming back, but Pavlovic and Daniels will likely be shown the door, so the they may still need one more player for depth.

The Celtics have four players under guaranteed contracts in 2012-13 for a combined $34.5 million (Pierce, $16.8M; Rajon Rondo, $11.0M; Avery Bradley, $1.6M; JaJuan Johnson, $1.1M). Pending decisions on or by Garnett, Ray Allen, Brandon Bass, Greg Stiemsma, Ryan Hollins, Chris Wilcox, Green, Pietrus and Dooling, C’s president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will have anywhere from $0-33 million to spend in free agency.

As a result, expect the Celtics to be linked to just about any and every free agent on the market. Nobody is out of their league. Without further ado, let’€™s take a look at the options that should be available to the Celtics at small forward, separating the current free agent players into three categories.

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Read More: 2012 NBA Free Agent Rumors, Boston Celtics, gerald wallace, Jeff Green
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