We still don’t know for sure what the Boston Celtics roster will look like on opening night, but at least for now after a wild week in the NBA, the dust is settling on the rapid-fire updates.
A lot has been happening. Around the league and with this team in particular.
Between negotiations with free agents and for extensions, trades and the virtual NBA Draft that happened last week but feels like forever ago, there was a lot to digest after the busiest week of the NBA offseason.
Let’s get all caught up.
Jayson Tatum essentially has confirmed his extension
Tatum thanked God in a tweet on Sunday night after reports that he and the Celtics worked out a five-year extension. As you can imagine, Boston fans had similar reactions.
Because while the 22-year-old basically has secured generational wealth, the Celtics have him under control through the next seasons.
Tatum will play the 2020-21 season on the last year of his rookie deal before a contract that could be worth up to $195.6 million kicks in for 2021-22. In a telling move, the team allowed him to negotiate player option before the final year, which you don’t see often and speaks to how much the wing is valued in this league already.
And the Celtics will get him for the beginning of his prime.
Hopefully, that fifth-year opt out is just an opportunity for the borderline superstar to sign the supermax sooner.
Gordon Hayward is gone and Boston seemingly has nothing to show for him
Speaking of “opt-out,” the Celtics have lost Gordon Hayward in free agency after he declined his player option and signed a shockingly enormous offer from the Charlotte Hornets.
Hayward thanked fans for his time here. His wife Robyn bid Boston farewell in her own strange way. But whether or not rumors were true that Hayward badly wanted to leave Boston for the Indiana Pacers, with a late night phone call, Michael Jordan made Hayward an offer he simply couldn’t refuse.
Seriously, though. No one else in the world was going to sign Hayward to a four-year, $120 million deal. During a pandemic!
For that reason, you can’t really blame Danny Ainge. Just a few weeks ago, Hayward opting in felt like it was going to be an absolute lock. The Celtics seemed to be the best option for him financially and to win. But when that kind of money is thrown around, how do you not take that deal. What is a president of basketball operations supposed to do?
Reports Sunday night indicated that a sign-and-trade was still on the table between Boston and Charlotte, but nothing has dropped yet. You would like to see something come of that as to not deal with the reality that the Celtics have nothing to show for Gordon Hayward’s departure aside from and what could have been?
The team managed a strong run into the NBA Playoffs without him, but there was something to be said about the former All-Star’s consistency at knowing when to let the young guys go off and when to take over. But Hayward as the fourth guy last year was a luxury that couldn’t last forever. Understandably, he came here to be the guy. Unfortunately, he instead dealt with a really bad break with injuries — literally and figuratively — from the get-go that allowed Tatum and Brown to make their ascensions.
Simply put, it will be hard for Boston to replace him.
Boston did make solid upgrades elsewhere, though
Before the Tatum extension news dropped, news that the Celtics had signed two new free agents cheered up Celtics fans.
With Enes Kanter being traded away to the Portland Trail Blazers in a three-team deal with the Memphis Grizzlies, and Brad Wanamaker continuing his incredible journey in the NBA by signing with the Golden State Warriors in free agency to be Steph Curry’s backup, the Celtics had a glaring need at center and with ballhandlers off the bench.
Ainge upgraded in both areas.
By reportedly signing Tristan Thompson to a two-year, $19 million dollar deal, Boston builds a versatile rotation of bigs between him, Daniel Theis and Robert Williams. It also allows Grant Williams to play some more 4. Tristan is a hard worker and tough on boards and will provide a traditional big presence that allow the shooters to do less off the defensive glass and get way out in transition. Theis proabbly gets the starting job, but of course that could be subject to change. Especially as coach Brad Stevens experiments with matchup tailored lineups.
This addition hopefully will be worth the Kardashians coming to town.
Boston also signed Jeff Teague in free agency from the Atlanta Hawks to add some much needed scoring to the bench, and the veteran guard could be a solid replacement for Wanamaker, which will be crucial as Marcus Smart likely makes his way to the starting lineup in Hayward’s absense.
And apparently, Stevens has been high on Teague since the Celtics coach ran Butler University’s program and was trying to recruit the former NBA All-Star out of high school.
So ultimately, between free agency and the draft so far, Boston have addressed glaring needs that bugged them through last season’s deep run. Hayward’s contributions, of course, will be near impossible to replace next season, but in the 2020 Playoffs the Celtics did a good job to compensate by committee.
Of course, we’ll wait until the roster is finalized. But if they run all that back, will the other moves made so far make them better this upcoming season?