Danny Ainge Rode With Celtics Centers In 2020; But How About Next Year?

Will Boston see an upgrade to the unit this offseason?


Danny Ainge stuck with the centers he had through the trade deadline this season.

And all things considered, with how deep the Boston Celtics made it into the playoffs and how little they spent on the position, it worked out fine.

But a major question entering this offseason is whether they’ll make a move in the offseason to bring in a new big.

Daniel Theis had a solid season stepping up after Al Horford’s departure proving he could get the job done on defense. But if we’re being honest, there are some fellow bigs who outmatched him physically, and playing with Theis in foul trouble was a bit of a liability.

That happened often in the NBA playoffs this year, and when it did, there was no clear-cut backup matchup.

Enes Kanter was great on the glass, but couldn’t be trusted defending the perimeter, pick and roll or fast break attacks. Grant Williams showed he can hang on defense, but despite some games when he got hot from deep, his offense has some growing to do. Then there’s Robert Williams, who showed he can make a huge impact with the energy he brings to the court, but for some reason didn’t earn more time off the bench.

Still, the Celtics president of basketball operations rode with this rotation of centers through the trade deadline, and had great things to say about it after the end of the season.

“We saw Grant finish up pretty strong with a few short-minute opportunities,” Ainge on Thursday said in his first media availability of the offseason, via Celtics reporter Taylor Snow.

“Robert had a good finish to the season. Enes gave us a big boost many times throughout the year. Daniel Theis had a terrific year. I think there‚Äôs a lot we learned about each of the individuals and about our team collectively.”

Theis is locked up through next season for a team-friendly $5 million. Kanter has a player option where he could opt-in for another year in Boston for about $5 million as well. The Williams, of course, still are on their rookie deals, so Boston’s budget bigs has given the team its money’s worth — and then some.

But can the Celtics actually win with this position group is the question?

It would be easier to determine that had the team played healthy for longer stretches of the season, or during the playoffs at the very least.

But even if they want to bring in someone new to add more depth at center, or sign or trade for a big name to upgrade the frontcourt, the financials depend on if forward Gordon Hayward opts in to the last year of his deal.

Once that is sorted out, and the NBA gets a better idea of what the salary cap will be for the 2021 season, the pieces will start to fall into place.

Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images

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