BOSTON (CBS) — With the first overall pick in next week’s draft and cap space to sign a big name free agent, the Boston Celtics have the opportunity to light some actual fireworks this offseason.
It seems all but certain that Markelle Fultz will be a Celtic come next Thursday night, and the rumors are already swirling on the free agent front. But what’s Danny Ainge’s actual master plan this summer? The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach joined The Adam Jones Show on Wednesday night to give a Celtics’ forecast for the offseason, and said it starts with drafting Fultz on June 22. On the free agent market, Himmelsbach said it’s no secret that the Celtics covet Jazz forward Gordon Hayward. The swingman would be a solid addition to a team that just went to the Eastern Conference Finals, and he’s already familiar with head coach Brad Stevens from their time together at Butler.
But on Wednesday, it was Blake Griffin who dominated the Celtics’ rumor mill, which should really come as no surprise. Hayward may be the best fit, but Ainge is going to leave no stone unturned this summer.
“The Celtics have made no secret and will tell you over and over again when big names come up, they’ll tell you all year that if there’s a big name out there, they’ll do their due diligence. It wouldn’t surprise me at all for them to at least have contact with Griffin,” said Himmelsbach. “But realistically, and the guy who fits their system, who knows Stevens a little bit, Hayward would be a good situation. Add him with Fultz to the core you have back, they wouldn’t win a title but it’s the continued growth and development.”
It sounds more like Griffin would be a Plan B for the Celtics, given his lengthy history of injuries, but the Clippers big man would certainly fill a glaring need on the Boston roster.
“There’s no doubt the Celtics could use some help in the post and could use some rebounding. If you essentially swap out Amir Johnson for Blake Griffin, that is a pretty sizable upgrade to your starting lineup,” Himmelsbach noted.
The Celtics and the rest of the NBA are kind of stuck in limbo at the moment, with Golden State’s assembled super team likely winning the next handful of titles. Still, that won’t stop Ainge, who Himmelsbach noted is trying to win a title now while also building for the future.
“There’s no doubt that it has to annoy the hell out the league, the situation the Warriors are in,” said Himmelsbach. “Barring something crazy, they’re going to have a stranglehold on the league for a couple of years, and I think everyone realizes that. But if you’re the Celtics you don’t go ‘well let’s not go after Gordon Hayward because we’re not going to win it anyways, let’s just be a little bit worse.’ There is no gain in doing that either. You want to be the best team you can be at this time.”
Himmelsbach also touched on Stevens doing his homework on Fultz, Al Horford’s first season in Boston and the team’s need for a rebounder. Listen to the full podcast above!