BOSTON (CBS) — With Kyrie Irving and Al Horford expected to depart Boston in the coming weeks, the Celtics are facing an offseason filled with uncertainty. There are a number of ways Danny Ainge can go to revamp the franchise, though none of them are as appealing as the future the Celtics thought they just one year ago.
The Celtics don’t have to go the full rebuild route, with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown solid building blocks, but chances are the Celtics won’t be adding any players that will turn them back into immediate contenders. And according to Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports, Boston could focus in on signing away other team’s restricted free agents this summer. It’s similar to the gameplan the Brooklyn Nets had after all the dust settled from their 2013 trade with Boston that brought in Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, but stripped the team of their future assets. That didn’t work out very well in Brooklyn, which just made it back to the postseason last season after a three-year stint in the NBA’s basement.
But Smith says there is “building chatter” that the Celtics could target Milwaukee’s Malcolm Brogdon and Washington’s Thomas Bryant and Tomas Satoransky on the restricted free agent market this summer. To land any of those three, Boston would need the player to agree to their offer sheet and then wait for their current team to either match the contract or not.
For Brogdon, that could turn into a pretty pricey endeavor. The guard played a major role in Milwaukee finishing as the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference last season, averaging 15.6 points off of 50 percent shooting, 4.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. Add in Brogdon’s defensive prowess, and it would likely take close to a max offer sheet for Boston to lure him from Milwaukee — and that may not even get the job done. The Celtics could go the “poison pill” route and backload the annual values of the contract, in hopes of scaring the Bucks away. In that instance, the Celtics could force the Bucks into an uncomfortable luxury tax situation in order to keep one of their main contributors.
Santoransky and Bryant would be much easier targets this offseason, but they don’t carry the same cache as a player like Brogdon. Santoransky is a 6-foot-7 shooting guard who can handle the ball and is a versatile defender. He had a career-year offensively for Washington last season, averaging a career-high 8.9 points off 49 percent shooting from the floor and 40 percent shooting from three-point range. The 6-foot-11 Bryant averaged 10.5 points and 6.3 rebounds for Washington last season, starting 53 of the 72 games he played in.
The Celtics have been working hard to clear up some cap space for this summer, and could have nearly $34 million to work with if they renounce their own free agents Terry Rozier (restricted), Marcus Morris, Daniel Theis and Brad Wanamaker. The Celtics would likely have to use the majority of that space if they hope to land Brogdon on an offer sheet.
None of this is ideal for Ainge or the Celtics, but it’s the reality they find themselves in after a disappointing 2018-19 season.