When Darko Milicic took his leave from the Celtics this week, many fans immediately recognized what that meant. Their team now had an open roster spot, and there was a name on the list of free agents who most of them recognized.
Kenyon Martin has become the name du jour for Celtics fans, much like Austin Rivers was the guy everybody wanted to know about in the run-up to the draft. But there is no hurry to find another big man, and the Celtics are not convinced that their struggles on the glass and on defense can be fixed simply by adding new personnel.
If Darko Milicic leaves, will the Celtics look into Kenyon Martin?
— Kyle Moule via Twitter
It is fair to assume the Celtics will look into several players, and Martin’s name reportedly has been brought up by the Celtics players themselves. But if team president of basketball operations Danny Ainge was itching for a chance to talk with Martin, he had a funny way of showing it. In the immediate aftermath of Milicic’s departure and the team granting his request to be waived, Ainge was out scouting college players, according to Doc Rivers. That is not the behavior of an executive who thinks his team needs to add a 34-year-old forward/center whose game always relied on his athleticism, and who has gotten progressively less bouncy over the years.
That is not to say Martin could not help Boston. If he were willing to accept a minor role for the veteran’s minimum and with no promise of playing time, as Leandro Barbosa was, the Celtics would sign Martin in a heartbeat and stick him at the end of the bench as insurance. But Martin would be unlikely to hop over Chris Wilcox in the depth chart and Rivers has made it clear that he has no use for old-school, bruising power forwards apart from Brandon Bass. In that case it might be Martin who says thanks, but no thanks.
What’s Kevin Garnett’s favorite mythical creature?
— Michael Gruber via Twitter
You think you are being clever, Michael. (You’re not.) But this question actually has an answer. Garnett hinted last season that he is a fan of the 1980s cartoon Voltron when he mentioned that Rajon Rondo is the black lion, or the head, of the Voltron robot. Voltron counts as mythical, right?
Any chance the Celtics trade for Marcin Gortat?
— Patrick Cahill via Twitter
Now there is a fun thought. Many folks might not realize that Gortat has gotten really good since he was traded to the Suns in 2010. He blossomed as a pick-and-roll partner with Steve Nash, but then again, everybody does. Even more impressive is that he has kept it up this season with Nash in Los Angeles. Gortat still averages close to a double-double and he has gotten even better defensively. He currently sits second in the NBA with 3.0 blocks per game.
Gortat would be a great addition to the Celtics. He would help address their issues protecting the rim and would allow Kevin Garnett to move back to power forward, forming an impenetrable front line. But nothing comes without a cost. What are you willing to give up for Gortat, Patrick?
Take Jeff Green and Brandon Bass, whose contracts most closely line up with Gortat’s $7 million salary, off the table right away. Both of them were signed using Bird rights, so neither can be moved until January. If you want to move Courtney Lee or Jason Terry, you also have to wait, although not as long. Newly signed free agents cannot be traded until Dec. 15.
Furthermore, the Celtics are well above the $58 million salary cap. They have obligations of about $71 million and cannot exceed a $74 million threshold as a stipulation for using the $5 million midlevel exception on Terry, so they would have to send out salary equal to or greater than what they acquire. Sending Avery Bradley or Jared Sullinger, or a package including the two, on their rookie deals therefore would not be possible under the NBA’s collective bargaining rules. If you want to ship out Rajon Rondo for Gortat, this might work, but I have a feeling you don’t really want to do that.