The Boston Celtics are in the enviable position of not really having any pressing needs.
After a slow start to the season, the Celtics have been one of the NBA’s best teams since right around Thanksgiving. It took a bit for them to get going, sure, but they’ve since begun living up to the lofty expectations set for them prior to the season.
Really, the only area the Celtics — who do have an open roster spot after trading Jabari Bird to the Atlanta Hawks in a salary-clearing move — probably could benefit from adding to is at center. Daniel Theis has come around lately, but Boston’s primary big man, Aron Baynes, has struggled with injuries this season. At this point, Robert Williams can’t be relied on to be a meaningful contributor down the stretch. Though Al Horford can play the five, if the Celtics run into a team with a true center and Baynes is out, Boston will get manipulated on the boards.
With that in mind, here are a few potential buyout candidates who might make sense for the Celtics if/when their current team cuts them loose (Note: March 1 is when a player has to be on their new team’s roster in order to be eligible for the postseason).
The Bulls big man has been a buyout candidate for most of the season with Chicago trying to develop its young talent. He told the Chicago Tribune he doesn’t want to make a fuss, but one has to think he’ll get bought out eventually.
Celtics fans probably don’t have the best memories of Lopez, as he worked over Boston on the glass early on in the C’s 2016-17 first-round playoff series against the Bulls. This season, he’s averaging 6.2 points per game, marking the first time since the 2014-15 campaign that he hasn’t averaged in double figures. He’s been used mostly in a bench role and could serve as a nice depth option with some postseason experience.
Lopez reportedly would sign with the Golden State Warriors if bought out, but the Bulls have been unwilling to cut the veteran big man loose to this point.
We’ll admit, this is a fascinating prospect purely because it would get the Morris brothers back together, as Markieff and Marcus haven’t played together since their days on the Phoenix Suns.
Markieff, who currently is dealing with a neck injury, was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans from the Washington Wizards and promptly was waived. An efficient scorer off the bench, Markieff is averaging 11.5 points with 5.1 rebounds this season.
His health is a concern, but it would be interesting to see the Morris brothers join forces providing Markieff is healthy.
In the postseason you can never have enough pure shooters, and Ellington fits the bill perfectly.
Ellington was sent to the Phoenix Suns as a salary dump in the Tyler Johnson-Ryan Anderson trade, and he’s already been waived. With the Miami Heat this season, the 31-year-old is averaging 8.4 points, shooting .368 from 3-point territory — a fairly pedestrian mark for his career.
The Celtics would benefit from some shooting depth. Morris and Marcus Smart have been good, as has Kyrie Irving and some others. Lest we forget though, the Celtics’ playoff run last season was halted against the Cleveland Cavaliers because of simply abysmal shooting by Boston in Game 7. Adding the security of a noted marksman doesn’t hurt.
Update: Ellington reportedly is nearing a deal to sign with the Detroit Pistons so it appears he won’t be donning the Green and White this season.
There’s some upside to Kanter, but there’s also a pretty big risk.
Put simply, Kanter is a defensive liability, and that probably won’t fly in Brad Stevens’ system. The big man is averaging 14 points and 10.5 rebounds per game this season, but he largely was phased out of David Fizdale’s rotation with the New York Knicks shortly before being waived.
It’s worth bearing in mind that Kanter put up those numbers on a garbage Knicks team, so his role on a contending team likely would be more similar to what he saw toward the end of his tenure in New York. In short, he’d probably get a lot of DNPs.
But the offense is enticing, so maybe the idea of some frontcourt scoring is too intriguing to pass up.
This is more about familiarity than anything else.
Monroe signed with the Celtics last season after getting bought out by the Phoenix Suns. He joined the Toronto Raptors in the offseason, was traded to the Brooklyn Nets at the trade deadline and waived shortly thereafter.
Although not nearly as effective as, say, his days with the Detroit Pistons, Monroe still can be a fairly useful big man. If the Celtics find they want to sign a true center but strike out with some of the bigger names, bringing Monroe back might be wise since there presumably would be a far shorter acclimation window.
Thumbnail photo via Kamil Krzaczynski/USA TODAY Sports Images