Much has been made in the immediate aftermath of the Celtics’ elimination from the NBA playoffs regarding Marcus Smart and his restricted free agency. Smart is looking for $12 to $14 million on the market, and the Celtics will surely be hesitant to pony up that kind of cash.
If Smart is “overpaid” by another NBA team, one option for the Celtics would be to look toward another defensive genius who has thrived under Brad Stevens’ watch – that being Avery Bradley.
The Celtics traded away Bradley last summer in order to make room for the signing of Gordon Hayward in NBA free agency, but the departure was amicable as the two sides have had nothing but praise for one another since the move. The Celtics even trotted out an Avery Bradley tribute video before a game last November against the Pistons.
Bradley, who had been focusing in on cashing in during the summer of 2018, did not have a glorious stay in Detroit. In fact, the Pistons traded Bradley after just four months to the Clippers in late January as part of the Blake Griffin trade.
Bradley played just seven games with the Clippers before being shut down for the season with an adductor injury.
Bradley’s offensive numbers took a slight dip this past season, as he averaged 15.0 points per game in Detroit after averaging a career-high 16.3 points per game last season with the Celtics. Bradley’s shot improved drastically under Stevens’ watch as the 2-guard saw his scoring average climb from 9.2 points per game in the season before Stevens’ arrival to 14.9 points in 2013-14, and to 15.2 points per game in 2015-16.
No doubt, Bradley’s stock took a hit this past season – opening the door just a crack for a Celtics reunion. The Celtics will not be throwing $20 million Bradley’s way (which is what he was reportedly seeking), but if the market is dry on AB after the initial free agent rush – look for the Celtics to strike.
The Celtics will have the full mid-level exception and the bi-annual exception to use in free agency this summer.