No members of the Boston Celtics front office have any fireworks-related injuries to report this summer ...
There weren’t any fireworks.
After an NBA Draft that saw the Celtics stay put and make their four picks, NBA free agency came along ... and the Celtics again were quiet.
But it wasn’t due to lack of effort on management’s part. Danny Ainge reportedly tried to make trades on draft night to no avail, and reached out to top tier free agents as soon as the clock struck midnight on July 1. But the best of the best weren’t interested in Boston, and most of the others were asking for too much money.
So Ainge signed versatile forward Amir Johnson from the Raptors to a two-year deal that reportedly includes a non-guaranteed second year. He then re-signed Jonas Jerebko to a two-year deal and Jae Crowder to a five-year deal. Tuesday, Ainge traded for forward David Lee from the Golden State Warriors. Lee is the biggest acquisition the Celtics have had since Isaiah Thomas came to Boston, but he's not the type of player who will instantly propel the C's into title contenders.
As it stands, the Celtics will look similar to last season. Drastic changes to the make-up of the roster will have to wait another year – but at least Ainge didn’t do anything to prevent that from happening.
By standing pat at the draft and not over-spending on B-level free agents this year, the Celtics are still able to make a splash going forward, whether it be using their remaining assets to swing another trade during the season, or going after free agents next offseason when the NBA salary cap expands.
Already we’re hearing whispers that two starters – Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins and Phoenix’s Eric Bledsoe – may become available. The hope is that the C’s can still pull something like this off, and if not, wait for yet another free agency period that will provide its own set of stars, headlined by Kevin Durant (no, the C’s don’t have a chance at him… sorry).
In the meantime, they’ll look to develop their young players.
The Celtics spent the most money on Crowder during free agency, $35 million over five years. Crowder was an afterthought in the trade that sent Rajon Rondo to Dallas, but once he got an opportunity to play, he quickly became a fan favorite in Boston due to his energy and hustle. Crowder needs to improve his outside shot, and if he can do that he will prove to be a steal in a league that sees players at his position making double the money per season.
Like Crowder, expect Johnson to become a fan favorite in Boston.
Johnson fits Stevens’ style of play, as he can maneuver around the court and guard multiple positions, while occasionally hitting the outside shot. Johnson started in Toronto but didn’t have a major role on offense. If the Celtics look to him more there, that second year of his deal might be more enticing.