The Need at Point Guard
The Boston Celtics are moving on from Kyrie Irving. To put it more accurately, Irving is moving on from the Celtics. This means the Celtics enter the 2019-2020 season with one point guard (pg) on their roster: Marcus Smart. Terry Rozier has a $4.3 million (M) qualifying offer, but a cap hit of $9M, which means he’ll be restructured if he comes back at all. The Celtics clearly need another PG, which has been discussed here.
What are the Boston Celtics options? The is a lot of potential in tonight’s draft. The question is: Do the Celtics really want to pair a rookie PG with their young stars in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown? Even drafting a generational talent such as Ja Morant, an almost impossible scenario, would not solve the Celtics immediate issues. It was reported today the Celtics are shopping Aaron Baynes’ $5.4M contract. If the Celtics lose Baynes their team averages 23.5 years old; even with Baynes the team averages 24.7 years old. The Celtics need a young, veteran point guard to help lead the other young Celtics to the next level.
Put Snapchat in the Past
One qualifying player that immediately comes to mind is De’Angelo Russell. I’ve written about the possibilities of signing Russell, but questioned his maturity. It could be argued those issues were put to rest after this last season with the Brooklyn Nets, on which Russell was an All-Star and led Brooklyn to the playoffs. The 2016-2017 All-Rookie member averaged 21.7 points per game, 3.9 rebounds per game and 7 assists per game in 2018-2019, on shooting splits of 43.4/36.9/78.0. Russell’s PER was 19.4, ranking 7th among PGs, and 37th in the NBA.
The 23-year old 6’5” PG could be the perfect fit in Boston. The 2nd pick in the 2015 NBA Draft would also be a nice prize from a draft in which the Celtics essentially only managed to draft Rozier. Russell has the skill set, the demeanor, and now the experience, both in the playoffs and living up to his original hype. People will point to Russell’s Snapchat blunder, which ultimately cost him his spot with the Los Angeles Lakers. I point to alternate perspectives. The Snapchat “victim” was Swaggy P, a.k.a. Nick Young. Young, although older, is arguably more immature than Russell. Consider: Russell was outing Young for cheating on – and bragging about cheating on – his longtime girlfriend. Forget “bro code” in 2019, who’s the immature one in this scenario? I rest my case.
They say desperate times call for desperate measures. The Boston Celtics have now lost Irving and reportedly could lose Al Horford. When a city mourns the potential lose of Horford and his $30.1M cap hit you know there’s a serious problem. That problem is veteran bodies to pair with a handful of young budding stars.
De’Angelo Russell barely qualifies as that veteran, but he does. Picture pairing All-Rookie members from 2014-2017 and that’s what you’d have with the Boston Celtics (Smart; Russell; Brown; Tatum). Marcus Smart, the heart of the team, was also a member of the 2017-2018 All-Defensive team. Add two-time All-Star Gordon Hayward, who should continue to get back to form, and things don’t look so bad. The Boston Celtics might be entering desperate times, but signing De’Angelo Russell is no desperation move. It’s the right move, and a move that could keep the Celtics competitive in the Eastern Conference for years to come.