It’s just hours into the start of free agency, yet already the Boston Celtics are dipping their ladle into the soup. While it can’t be chalked up as a retooling rather than a rebuilding just yet, this offseason, the Celtics are looking to address some of the deficiencies that likely kept them out of the playoffs last year and gave them the sixth-worst record in the NBA.
Exit: Kevin Love and Carmelo Anthony; enter: Jordan Hill, Isaiah Thomas and Kent Bazemore.
Out of those three, Thomas is certainly the most skilled. Multiple sources are reporting that the Celtics were one of five teams to already act on their interest in the 5-foot-9, Sacramento Kings point guard.
If acquired, he would almost certainly come off the pine for the Cs, but Thomas has proven to be effective in that role as recently as last season, when he averaged 17.8 points and 4.9 assists in 18 games backing up Greivis Vasquez. It’s unclear as to how willing the 25-year-old is to take another bench-role, but regardless, the Celtics are certainly doing the right thing inquiring about someone who is as gifted a scorer as Thomas.
One thing that has to be kept in mind: Thomas is a restricted free agent, and he has just come off a season in which he put up All-Star-caliber numbers, posting 20.3 points and 6.3 dimes a contest, so it’s going to take quite a bit of coin to pull him away from Sac-Town.
Next on the list is Hill, who for the past three seasons has spent his time with the enemy: the Los Angeles Lakers.
Hill didn’t have the breakout season many expected him to when Dwight Howard bolted for the Houston Rockets, but 9.7 points and 7.4 boards in just 20.8 minutes a night is nothing to sneeze at. Perhaps the best facet of Hill’s game is his defense. He has a relentless motor and is a great athlete for a 6-f00t-10 big. He is a solid shot blocker, sending back just under one shot a game, but he alters many more than that. He can move well laterally, so he excels at defending the pick and roll, and his on ball defense is some of the best for his position. There aren’t too many back-to-basket centers in today’s NBA, but with the emergence of the Charlotte Hornets, Brooklyn Nets and Washington Wizards as playoff teams in the East that all feature such a player, Hill could be a valuable asset.
Bazemore isn’t nearly as established as Thomas or Hill, but his ceiling has the potential to be much higher than both.
After going undrafted back in 2012, Bazemore was signed by the Golden State Warriors at the start of the 2012-13 season and played a season and-a-half with them before he was traded to the Lakers as a part of the Steve Blake deal.
With some decent playing time, Bazemore looked like a heck of a basketball player. In 23 games wearing the purple and gold, he averaged 13.1 points while shooting 45.1 percent and 37.1 percent from the field and three-point line, respectively. Defensively, Bazemore was close to a stud, using his 6-foot-11.5 wingspan to rack up 1.3 steals per contest.
At the ripe age of 25, Bazemore presents enough upside for the Cs to take a gamble on him this offseason, and reportedly, Brad Stevens made a personal call to the young wing, a sign that Boston sees the potential in him as well.
Nothing is set in stone, but the Celtics already reaching out to undervalued players with the hopes of snatching them right up can’t be anything but a good sign.