BOSTON (CBS) — Danny Ainge is a busy man these days. With NBA free agency just a few sleeps away, rumors surrounding the Boston Celtics are coming in fast and furious.
News broke Thursday morning that the Celtics are now considered the frontrunners to sign free agent point guard Kemba Walker when free agency gets underway Sunday evening. Now there’s a report that Ainge and the Celtics are trying to get involved in the reported Houston-Philadelphia trade, with the Rockets trying to land Jimmy Butler in a sign-and-trade with the 76ers.
According to Matt George, a sports talk radio host in Sacramento, the Celtics could be targeting Houston big man Clint Capela in the deal. Houston needs to shed some salary in order to add Butler to the high-priced duo of James Harden and Chris Paul, and are reportedly looking to move players like Capela, Eric Gordon and PJ Tucker.
Always the opportunist, Ainge could be trying to use some of his future draft picks to get Boston some much-needed depth in the frontcourt. Al Horford is expected to sign elsewhere this summer, and Boston traded center Aron Baynes on draft night to clear cap space, leaving the Celtics with just Robert Williams (their only true center), Semi Ojeleye, Guerschon Yabusele and rookie Grant Williams on their depth chart.
The 6-foot-10 Capella would be a nice fit in Boston after averaging career-highs in points (16.7) and rebounds (12.7) in Houston last season. His numbers have increased each of his five seasons in the NBA and he’s signed through the 2022-23 season, when he’ll make $20.2 million, a fairly reasonable price tag for a gifted big man.
Who and what the Celtics would send out in the deal — and where — remains a mystery, and a rather complicated one at that. If the Celtics sign Walker to a max deal, the would only have the Room Exception ($4.8 million for two years) and league minimum contracts, so they’d have to trade away someone to fit Capela’s $16 million salary.
We should have a much clearer picture by Monday morning, with free agency officially opening Sunday at 6 p.m. Until then, Celtics fans will be patiently awaiting the next rumor surrounding their team.