Celtics Sign Efficiency Machine
The Boston Celtics signed center Enes Kanter to a 2-year $10 Million contract Monday. The former Trailblazer will make $4.7 Million in 2019-2020 with a player option for 2020-2021. Kanter averaged 13.7 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game on shooting splits of 54.9/29.4/78.7 in 67 games between the New York Knicks and Portland Trailblazers last season. The veteran center had a Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of 22.3, which ranked in the top-30. In fact, in 583 games Kanter’s career 20.6 PER would put him ahead of Chris Bosh for 62nd all-time.
The move fills a big hole for the Boston Celtics after trading Aron Baynes and losing Al Horford when Horford declined his player option. Before signing Kanter the only center on the Celtics roster was 21-year old Robert Williams. Williams averaged 2.5 points and 8.8 minutes per game in 2018-2019. Kanter isn’t the defender Horford and Baynes are, but Kanter brings the same production at a fraction of the cost. Coaching won’t help Kanter in the paint against Joel Embiid or Giannis Antetokounmpo, so the Celtics still have work to do. The addition of Kanter through the full room exception is a great step at an incredible value.
2019-2020 Roster Revisited
The 2019-2020 Boston Celtics roster is shaping up. After signing Kemba Walker and Kanter the starting lineup will likely consist of Walker (point guard), Marcus Smart (guard), Jayson Tatum (small forward) and Kanter (center). Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward will likely battle for the 5th guard/forward spot. Smart could come off the bench, but that starting unit would be a defensive liability. Neither lineup contains a power forward, but the Celtics roster currently only has two: Guerschon Yabusele and Semi Ojeyele. Ojeyele’s contract was just guaranteed, but both power forwards combined for only 16.1 minutes per game in 2018-2019. The Celtics also drafted power forward Grant Williams with their second pick in the 2019 draft.
The additions of Walker and Kanter bring much-needed offensive veteran production at relatively good value. Walker has similar on-court tendencies to Kyrie Irving, but Walker is a leader unconcerned with waxing philosophical. Kanter brings a high level of efficiency to a young coaching staff that relies on it. Boston can now focus on another defensive post presence to provide defensive stability and a mentor for the Celtics young big men. The Celtics salary cap currently sits at $103.7 Million, which leaves enough room for a veteran minimum contract. That number could also cover their draft picks or undrafted free agents. The Celtics need to make that move or use those pieces to trade for one more impact big man that will separate the Celtics from the rest of the Eastern Conference.