This NBA offseason is going to be much shorter than years past, but that doesn’t mean the time away from game action is going to be any less exciting.
There are plenty of unrestricted free agents available this fall and winter who could be serious difference-makers. While their names might not jump off the page, they could be the piece that elevates a middle-of-the-road team to the playoffs or strengthens a contender’s chances of reaching the NBA Finals.
Perhaps the Celtics will take a look at one or multiple of these UFAs. Here are five free agents who make sense for Boston.
It’s no secret the Celtics’ most pressing needs is in the front court, and Harrell would help address this issue and then some. While he’s only 6-foot-8, Harrell is an OK interior defender and likely would improve Boston’s rim protection. The 26-year-old also is coming off a career season offensively, as his 18.6 points per game ranked third among the Los Angeles Clippers behind Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, respectively. Harrell plays with a certain edge and mean streak, which undoubtedly would be endeared by Green Teamers.
Harry Giles III
Plenty of injury concerns surround Giles, but the young big man has proven to be an effective player when healthy. The 22-year-old last season averaged 17.1 points and 10.1 rebounds per 36 minutes with the Sacramento Kings. Giles finally started to showcase his high upside, but not enough for the Kings to pick up his fourth-year option.
As such, the Celtics potentially could land this engaged defender for fairly cheap. Not to mention, he’s close friends with fellow Duke product Jayson Tatum.
Any team with legitimate championship aspirations should have some level of interest in Grant. While his impact in Denver often was overlooked due to the attention on Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, Grant can provide pretty significant value, specifically on the defensive end. The 26-year-old is capable of guarding all five positions, which would be a major plus for a Celtics team that often likes to tinker with lineups and rotations. Grant isn’t a dynamic scorer, but he’s shot roughly 39% from 3-point range in each of the last two seasons.
While it kind of seems like Ibaka has been in the league forever, he turned 31 back in September, so he probably has plenty of good basketball left in him. The veteran big man had a great 2019-20 season with the Toronto Raptors, averaging 15.4 and 8.2 rebounds per game. Ibaka also has added a respectable 3-point shot to his game, so he’s capable of stretching the floor in addition to being a stout interior presence. Ibaka, a key cog of the Raptors’ 2019 championship group, likely would be a great addition to Boston’s locker room as a veteran leader.
Much of this fit would depend on Rondo’s attitude. It’s easy to envision the ex-Celtic not being crazy about joining a team led by two players in their early 20s. But if Rondo bought in, he would be a nice fit as a backup point guard. Rondo still is a great floor general, and as we’ve seen, he tends to turn his game up multiple levels during the playoffs. Following Kemba Walker’s injury-plagued 2019-20 season, Boston surely could benefit from adding a point guard who can be plugged into the starting lineup at a moment’s notice.