|2014 NBA free agent point guards available to Celtics||06.27.14 at 10:57 am ET|
With NBA free agency opening Tuesday, we begin our annual examination of the options available to the Celtics at each position. Today’s focus: point 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.
While the Celtics still have an All-Star point guard on the roster, Rondo’s name will continue to be mentioned in trade talks for the remaining year on his deal. The addition of Smart combined with Phil Pressey‘s non-guaranteed contract gives Ainge inexpensive solutions behind Rondo. Should the C’s anticipate Rondo’s departure or envision a significant upgrade over Pressey, they could still chase any free agent floor general not named Kyle Lowry.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at their options, separating the current free agents into three categories.
THE RAJON RONDOS
A four-time NBA All-Star at just 28 years old, Rondo already has helped steer the Celtics to an NBA title and could do so again with the right talent around him. Without that talent on the roster, though, Ainge could trade his captain, and the free agent market offers a number of options who could help fill the void left by his departure.
RICH MAN: ERIC BLEDSOE
2013-14: 1,416 min, 17.7 ppg, 5.5 apg, 4.7 rpg, 1.6 spg, 57.8 TS%, 19.6 PER
Why? Ainge has eyed Bledsoe since 2013, when the Clippers nearly traded him and DeAndre Jordan for Kevin Garnett. In short, he’s a 24-year-old stud.
Why not? It’s hard to imagine the Suns letting a player of Bledsoe’s caliber walk, and even if he does leave Phoenix, word is he’ll be seeking a max contract offer.
|NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Butler G Shelvin Mack||06.13.11 at 11:35 am ET|
WEEI.com continues to provide daily insight and analysis on the 2011 NBA draft. This is one in a series of profiles of players who might be available for the Celtics to select with one of their two picks (25th and 55th overall).
Weight: 215 pounds
Stats: 16.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.4 apg
What he brings: Two years ago, it would have been surprising to say the least that one of the draft’s most popular names would come from Butler of all places. But after two consecutive NCAA championship game appearances, that’s what we have in Mack, who enters the draft after three years in school. At 6-foot-3, he’d be well-sized for an NBA point guard but with his score-first skill set, he might project more as a small shooting guard, a la Monta Ellis or Stephen Curry in Golden State.
As he took on more responsibility in the Butler offense last season, his efficiency numbers took a small hit (field goal percentage dropped from .454 to .408, 3-point percentage from .391 to .354) but he would not be asked to take as big of a load in his first few NBA seasons. On the defensive end, his height and strength allowed him to cover bigger small forwards in college, but he is not believed to have the quickness to cover professional point guards.
Where the Celtics could get him: Second round
What they’re saying: ‘He’s a guy that can handle the ball, he can dribble, pass and shoot. He has great strength, he has an NBA body, and he’s going to be able to play throughout the course of an 82-game season. He also performs at his best against the highest level and always has.’ ‘ Butler coach Brad Stevens
Notes: Mack played second fiddle to Gordon Hayward and Matt Howard in college, so demanding the ball so that he might put up points shouldn’t be an immediate problem. Mack acknowledged in an Associated Press story that he is prepared to play as few as two minutes in the NBA or even head to Europe if he were to go undrafted.