The Boston Celtics were forced to sit on their hands as big-money deals were quickly given to All-Star caliber players like Chris Paul, Kyle Lowry and Mike Conley.
That wasn’t much of a surprise. Paul re-signed with the Suns while Lowry was part of a sign-and-trade with the Miami Heat, each player receiving $30 million per year. Conley, fresh off his first All-Star campaign, was given $72.5 million over three years to remain with the Utah Jazz, an average of $24 million.
It was expected those players would prove too costly for the Celtics entering Monday, and it quickly was confirmed.
What was a bit more disappointing was the $85 million thrown at Lonzo Ball by the Chicago Bulls over a four-year span; the fact the New York Knicks reportedly agreed to a four-year deal with Evan Fournier, who the Celtics acquired at last year’s NBA trade deadline; and even T.J. McConnell returning to the Indiana Pacers on a four-year deal worth $35 million.
The Celtics were rumored to be among the teams interested in Ball while McConnell, a relentless defender and efficient facilitator, would have been a good and inexpensive fit for the Celtics. No deal.
Fournier is the biggest disappointment, though. And not so much because of the fact the Celtics didn’t offer him four years or $78 million — they weren’t going to offer that much or that long. They were out-bid by a team which has far more financial flexibility. But more so than that was the realization that the organization botched the Gordon Hayward traded player exception last year. They got 16 games from Fournier in the short term and nothing in the long term.
McConnell was the cheapest of contracts mentioned, but he wasn’t completely alone. Doug McDermott, who could helped the Celtics with his shooting ability, reportedly signed a three-year deal worth $42 million with the San Antonio Spurs. P.J. Tucker, who had been linked to the Celtics in the past, signed a two-year, $15 million with the Miami Heat.
Free agency is just getting started, but it has been somewhat of an underwhelming first day for the Celtics.