As the trading block gets up and running this offseason, the Celtics’ staff needs to determine who is part of their future. These rankings take a look at who has the most value for the franchise right now. Factors taken into consideration were talent (obviously), age and current career trend, trade value, and contract situation. The team’s two-way players, Jabari Bird and Kadeem Allen are not included in this list. Let’s dive right in.
15. Abdel Nader, SF
Abdel Nader doesn’t bring anything to the team. He played sparingly over 48 games this season and averaged three points a game, all while contributing negative win shares. Though he’s young and could have room for improvement, he just underwent wrist surgery. It’s unlikely he’s on the roster for much longer.
14. Guerschon Yabusele, PF
Yabusele didn’t perform all that well for the Celtics this year either. He averaged 2.4 points and two rebounds over 33 games this year. However, scouts still see massive upside in “The Dancing Bear”, and he’s just 22 years old. The team still has hope that he can develop into the player they think he can be. Yabu has also become a fan favorite with his childish charm, and there’s always value in guys like that.
13. Greg Monroe, C
Though Monroe is unlikely to re-sign, he could still bring value to the team if he did. In 26 games with Boston, he averaged ten points and six rebounds after being acquired via the disabled player exception. If Boston wanted, they might be able to get him cheap on another one-year deal. Monroe is only 28 years old. However, there might not be a role for him this year behind Horford, Theis, and Baynes if he is re-signed.
12. Shane Larkin, PG
Shane Larkin had a decent year for the Celtics until injury sidelined him in the playoffs. Though he only averaged four points and two assists per game, he provided a nice spark off the bench. He also played an important role in several of the Celtics’ late-season games. The major thing that holds Larkin so low on this list is that this season, he’ll be fourth on the depth chart. Kyrie Irving, Terry Rozier, and Marcus Smart will all be before him in the rotation. It’s unlikely that he would see the court in most games. However, if the Celtics end up trading one or both of Smart and Rozier, it is possible he can see a role.
11. Semi Ojeleye, PF
Ojeleye doesn’t provide much offense, but Brad Stevens loves his defense. It’s easy to see why. This year, the team routinely looked to him to take the toughest defensive assignments. He defended the likes of LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo with relative success. He was also a rookie and has three years remaining on his deal of $1.5 million per year. At that price, Ojeleye is a steal for the team. However, like Larkin, he will be stuck low on the depth chart with Gordon Hayward returning.
10. Daniel Theis, PF/C
Theis had an excellent first year coming over from Europe. He averaged five points and five rebounds over 63 games, serving as a reliable backup to Al Horford before a torn meniscus ended his year in March. The 6’9″ German is already locked up for next year for $1.8 million. If Aron Baynes returns, the two will compete for minutes. However, Theis has a great chance at becoming an important player for the Celtics.
9. Marcus Morris, F
Marcus Morris provided big scoring boosts off the bench most nights throughout the season. Over 54 games, he averaged 14 points and 5.4 rebounds. He’s a bruiser and physical player, but he has a beautiful isolation jumper. Morris, still just 28, is locked up next season for $5.5 million. However, he is an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2019. If Danny Ainge looks to make a big trade this summer, Morris could be an eye-catching piece in any potential offers. If he stands pat, Boston gets another season’s worth of contributions out of Morris.
8. Aron Baynes, C
Baynes filled the center position admirably last season. He played in all but one game and averaged six points and 5.4 boards. His willingness to go up against rim attackers (although often only to be posterized) proved valuable to the depleted core. His development of a three-pointer during the playoffs was incredible, and Boston should attempt to re-sign him. However, he is 31 years old, and if the price is too high, the Celtics may walk. Nonetheless, Baynes returning to the team would boost the size of a smaller Boston team.
7. Marcus Smart, G
Marcus Smart is below Terry Rozier on this list because though he probably has more value to the team than Rozier does in the big picture, he doesn’t garner as much trade value as Rozier does. However, it’s impossible to overstate what Smart does for Boston. He’s the everyman, and everyone who’s watched him play knows what he brings to the table for them. The stats might not be the flashiest, but it’s what isn’t in the box score that makes him so valuable to the Celtics. However, Smart is a restricted free agent, and if he receives an offer into the $18-20 million range, the Celtics may not be willing to keep him.
6. Terry Rozier, PG
Scary Terry balled out in the playoffs and put the league on notice. As previously mentioned, Rozier earns this spot not because of his contributions to the team (though those were also hefty), but for his trade value. He’s been mentioned in numerous trade rumors already this offseason, and it’s easy to envision Ainge putting him into a package for a star player. Teams love his ability to create his own scoring opportunities. Rozier is under contract for one more year and then becomes an RFA. His team value, though, takes a hit this coming season with the return of Kyrie Irving. It will also be interesting to see if Rozier’s postseason inflated his ego, and prompts Trader Dan to ship him out a la Isaiah Thomas before he has to take a backseat to Irving.
5. Al Horford, PF/C
Arguments can be made for Al Horford having been the MVP of this team this season. In his All-Star campaign, his consistent play and leadership gave the young guns guidance throughout the year. Horford was undoubtedly a cornerstone piece for the Celtics, both this year and last. The reason he falls down on the list is that Al now finds himself at 32 years of age, and winding down his career. His current contract with the team, though unlikely, has a chance to be his last, as he is signed next season and then has a player option in 2019-20. Horford probably won’t be included in any packages this season, because a player like him just won’t gather much interest. That’s just fine for the Celtics, though they’ll be glad to have Al hang around for a little while longer.
4. Jaylen Brown, SG/SF
Jaylen Brown is one of the hottest players on the market right now. His breakout sophomore season drew attention around the Association. He has sky-high trade value right now, and his play will only continue to improve. His stats jumped up in every category this year, and at just 21, it’s likely to be the case again next year. The Celtics could certainly put together an attractive trade package with him at the center. If he stays, he’s guaranteed a spot in the starting five. Right now, there’s no limit to how far he can progress.
3. Kyrie Irving, PG
Kyrie finally got to become the leader of a team, and it paid dividends. The flashy point guard had himself one heck of a season, even throwing his name into the MVP discussion before he joined the list of injured Celtics. The reason he’s third here is because his future with the team has become foggy. Terry Rozier emerged as a legitimate starting point guard during his absence. Irving has also become extremely noncommittal to a future with the Celtics, leaving some to wonder if he’ll be gone next season. However, Irving is a star and if the team manages to hang on to him, championships could be in the team’s future.
2. Gordon Hayward, F
Gordon Hayward was on the court for all of five minutes last year, but he is nearing the end of his recovery and rehab and appears ready to get back on the court this season. When he does, he’ll immediately assume his position at the focus of the team’s offense. After an All-Star season two years ago in Utah, Hayward is hungry for some real action in Boston. He’s also locked up for the next two seasons, and a player option after that. Prepare to see Hayward lead the Celtics for years to come.
1. Jayson Tatum, F
The clear-cut choice for number one on this list. Jayson Tatum is going to be a superstar in this league. At just 20 years old, the sky is the limit for the dynamic forward. He’s on his rookie contract for three more years with the team. If Ainge decides he wants to go after an Anthony Davis or Kawhi Leonard, Tatum could be more than enough to make the deal. However, given his performance this year, he seems untouchable, and for good reason. Tatum could lead this team for many years to come.