BOSTON (CBS) — Let’s start by saying this: The Boston Celtics are not going to land a top free agent this summer.
It just doesn’t happen in Boston, not on the hardwood. The biggest name free agent they’ve ever attracted was Shaquille O’Neal, and he was further away from his prime than Dominque Wilkins was when he donned green in the mid ’90s. The only free agents the Celtics will land this season are off the second tier, and if that doesn’t work out, they’ll likely have more success on the trade market (it’s a lot easier when the player has no say in where he’s going).READ MORE: I-Team: High School Failure Rates In Massachusetts Jumped During Pandemic
So you can keep dreaming about LaMarcus Aldridge and Marc Gasol, but I don’t recommend that. It’s just going to hurt more in the end when Alridge ends up on the Spurs, Knicks or… brace yourself… the Lakers.
So here are some realistic free agents the Celtics could target when the clock strikes midnight tonight.
16.4 points per game, 9.7 rebounds per game
If you’re going to have one pipe dream this summer, Kevin Love can be that dream. There is a very, very, very, very slim chance the Celtics might be able to convince him to ditch LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and title hopes with the Cavs to come be the guy in Boston (for a very big payday) rather than the third wheel in Cleveland.
Can Love be the guy on a title contending team? That remains to be seen. He struggled at points in Cleveland and was just starting to look comfortable when Kelly Olynyk ripped his arm out in the playoffs. But there’s no denying his offensive game, and he would immediately boost Boston’s rebounding, which was to put it lightly, terrible last season.
He may not be a superstar, but he’d be a very good start and a building block towards getting another star to Boston. Signing Love may prove difficult given the competition on the market, and it may require a sign-and-trade. Those are all things Danny Ainge and company will have to weigh if they decide to make a run at Love.
Update: Forget about this one. Love is going back to Cleveland for a lot of money.
15.9 ppg, 10.2 rpg
Monroe would certainly fill a very big need on the Boston roster, and he’s a beast in the paint. He averaged a double-double for the first time in his career last season, and that was with Andre Drummond pulling down 15 boards per game.
His defense is a little iffy, but the Celtics need a big man who can rebound and is dangerous in the paint. Don’t let your jaw hit the ground if he ends up getting a max deal though; Monroe will likely get ridiculous money from anyone who loses out on Aldridge, Gasol and DeAndre Jordan. And though free agency is still a few hours away, there is one report that Boston is already out of the running for Monroe, with the Knicks the favorites to overpay him.
16.7 ppg, 7.8 rpg
Millsap has a great motor and always plays hard, two things Brad Stevens loves in his players. The former second-round pick has spent the last two seasons in Atlanta, and could bring some solid rebounding to the Celtics.READ MORE: 'Had A Heart Of Gold': Construction Worker Killed In Newton Identified As Russell Harron
Update: Millsap is heading back to the Hawks.
Tobias Harris (RFA)
17.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg
Harris is the one name we’ve heard a lot connected to the Celtics, and he could be just what they need at the wing. He’s one of the best young forwards in the game at just 22-years-old, and would slide right into Boston’s starting lineup. He shot a career-high 36 percent from downtown last season, hitting 3.5 threes per game, and he’s a pretty good rebounder for the position as well.
The problem with Harris is he’s a restricted free agent, and he’ll likely command a pretty penny of an offer sheet. He might command max money, which he isn’t worth, but this is the NBA and money is about to get really crazy next year.
Update: The Magic missed out on Millsap, so they will reportedly match any offer sheet on Harris. That means the Celtics are out of the running.
12.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg
If the Celtics can’t land Harris, Carroll isn’t a bad backup plan. He’s developed into a solid starter for the Hawks thanks to his effort on the floor and is coming off his best shooting season, hitting 48 percent of his shots from the floor and 40 percent from three-point land.
UPDATE: Carroll agreed to a deal with the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday.
9.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg
The other Lopez is the ultimate consolation prize among the available big men, but he’s a player Celtics fans would love because of his hard work on the floor. He’d be a big body in the paint that pulls down rebounds and plays some defense, which is all the Celtics can ask for if they miss out on bigger names.
5.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg
Koufos has spent his career as a backup center, but he’s been a solid one at that. If they Celtics strike out everywhere else on the free agent market, he’s worth looking into.MORE NEWS: 'I Don't Want To Be A Vigilante': Mikayla Miller's Mother Demands Justice At Hopkinton Rally