With Celtics’ Reported Interest, Would Larry Nance Jr. Be A Good Fit?

Let's assume the Cavaliers are willing to part with the one player in the league who wants to be in Cleveland...


March 6, 2021

For a team that hasn’t executed a mid-season trade in six years, the Boston Celtics have been named in a number of rumors suggesting they’re eager to make a move.

The latest name they’re rumored to be interested in? Larry Nance Jr. of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

This storyline was a tidbit in a report by Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. It should be noted, however, that the Cavaliers have not indicated any interest in shopping Nance Jr.

After all, the Akron, Ohio native has no real interest in leaving his hometown team. That’s not a sentiment Cleveland has been used to, and there’s no telling what that’s worth to the team.

But here’s what we do know:

— Danny Ainge doesn’t believe this team is good enough to contend for an NBA title as it stands.

— What he thinks Boston does need is an offensive threat with size who can also play really good defense.

— The Celtics have been mentioned in all sorts of rumors involving players that at least kind of fit this description this week. (Blake Griffin, Jermi Grant, Nikola Vucevic and Nemanja Bjelica).

Nance is one of those who kind of fits that description.

He isn’t necessarily the super-skilled shooter the Celtics seem to be after, but he can kind of stretch the floor and is quite an underrated player.

The 28-year-old was shooting 38.1% from 3-point range with an average of 9.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game, but a fractured finger has kept him off the court since Feb. 6.

Nance doesn’t provide a ton of offensive firepower. But with Kemba Walker looking healthy these days, maybe that’s something you’re willing to move down on your hierarchy of priorities. And it would suggest Boston is buying back into defense.

In that case, Nance offers a lot of versatility on that side of the ball. Something that perhaps has been the C’s biggest issue thus far save for injuries and COVID-19.

Couple his hustle and defense with pretty solid contributions passing and he would add some good depth, presumably replacing Grant Williams and Semi Ojeleye in the rotation.

Would it put them over the top? Certainly not. But he’d come at a decent value on an $11.7 million contract this year that declines to $10.6 million and $9.6 million, respectively, the subsequent two seasons.

Of course, that’s why he’s also reportedly has drawn the eye of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Philadelphia 76ers, New Orleans Pelicans, Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks.

Tristan Thompson’s outgoing $9 million salary is a good filler, though you might have to get another team involved so he isn’t getting sent back to Cleveland. And we’ll see how much it would take additionally, or if the Celtics would use part of their TPE.

Because, as mentioned, Nance actually wanting to be there probably is worth a lot to Cleveland.

And we throw Thompson in because Boston already is struggling to manage minutes between their three competent centers. The former Cavalier is playing well, but Daniel Theis and an improved Robert Williams fit better with what the Celtics are trying to do.

Nance’s game is more of a step towards the direction they’re trying to go in, we guess…

Verdict: Intrigued, but not really moving the needle here. The Celtics need wings, not more bigs.

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