This Summer has been incredible for us basketball fans. We’ve seen the NBA’s largest ever contract signed with Steph Curry and his $201 million deal, huge trades like Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets and Paul George and Jimmy Butler moving to the Western Conference...and yet there’s more!
On Independence day Gordon Hayward announced he would be signing with the Celtics in a 4 year/$128 million deal. Though Utah Jazz fans will be very disappointed as their rising team has lost its star player, basketball fans around the world will salivate at the thought of Gordon Hayward teaming up with Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Al Horford.
This move was for one purpose; to truly challenge LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers. Although this move is certainly huge, the fact that Boston was so utterly annihilated in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals points to the fact that the Celtics will need even more firepower to beat the King.
Al Horford, although very skilled isn’t a natural fit at his current position of center. He has a great jump shot and has good passing abilities from the top of the key. He needs to play at the power forward position. This means another star big needs to be added; and here are my top four suggestions.
4. Nikola Vucevic - Orlando Magic
It always amazes me how much Nikola Vucevic is overlooked; the guy averaged 18.2 points and 13 rebounds per 36 minutes last year and is great mid-range shooter, knocking down 44.1% of his mid-range jumpers over his career. Last year it was reported that he was growing frustrated with the Magic’s front office with Orlando struggling for yet another year to win games. This is his way out
Boston last year was simply abysmal on the boards, ranking 27th in the league in total rebounds. They need a guy who will chase after every board, desperate to get another possession for his team and Vucevic can certainly do that. Horford could space the floor with his ability to hit the three and Vucevic could bang down low, given the Celtics an inside scoring option to accompany their already potent outside threat.
3. Hassan Whiteside - Miami Heat
The Miami Heat were one of the three teams in contention to sign Gordon Hayward, with Hassan himself advertising the incredible beaches and climate Miami has to offer. Whiteside would be very disappointed that Hayward didn’t come to Miami, but that doesn’t mean the two won’t be teammates next year.
Whiteside is one of the premier centers in the league who averaged 17 points and 14.1 rebounds along with 2.1 blocks last year. He’s right in his prime 27 and could easily anchor the Celtic’s defense.
The Heat are in a state of flux right now; they won’t win big with their current squad, nor are they getting any good draft picks. The time is right to completely move on from the era of Dwayne Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh now that they’ve waived the latter. This means a full-scale rebuild and an offload of big contracts, which definitely includes Whiteside.
The Celtics could offload Kelly Olynyk, Amir Johnson and James Young along with Marcus Smart to make cap space and rid themselves of any deadweight on their squad.
2. Marc Gasol - Memphis Grizzlies
Big men that can pass are a rare commodity in the NBA. 7 footers are usually not known for their ability to handle the ball and control the tempo, but those who can are incredibly valuable. It gives you another angle from which to operate your offense from and can lead to some breath-taking highlights along the way.
Marc Gasol is one of this bigs and hooking him up with Al Horford, another good passer would give Brad Stevens a lot of options from which Hayward and Thomas could attack from. Gasol is also a good rebounder with a career average of 7.6 and scored 19.5 points a game last season. He can hit the three and shot 83.7% from the free-throw line last year, a terrific stat for a big man.
The addition of Gasol again would mean the Celtics could offload their ineffective big men and mean that they would have real quality players 1 through 5, a challenge for Cleveland if ever there was one.
1. DeAndre Jordan - LA Clippers
One of the problems so called ‘super teams’ face is the problem of there being only one ball. Stars are used to having the rock in their hands a lot and if they find themselves on the side a lot they can get disgruntled and disinterested. There are however a select bunch of stars who have made it their business to be extremely effective without the ball, meaning they could go to any team and be effective.
DeAndre Jordan is the prime example of this.
Jordan has never had a polished offensive game, he scores his points from lobs, rebounds and pick and rolls, and that’s perfect for the Celtics. He sets amazing screens where he set the 4th most screen assists last season, he rebounds like crazy (13.8 rebounds a game) and has lead the league in field-goal percentage for the past 5 seasons.
His free throw shooting is a problem that needs a huge amount of work. He only shot 48.2% last season but Brad Stevens is a great coach who I’m sure would really help DJ. Even though he is a liability from the charity stripe, his overall skillset makes him more than worth it. He lead the league in offensive rating last year with 129 meaning that on average if he was on the court for 100 possessions his team would score 129 points and his defensive rating was 10th last year as well at 102.4.
Chris Paul is gone from LA, the Clippers won’t be a contender for a while now. Jordan, if he wants to win a ring needs a change of scenery. He would fit immensely well with the scorers of Thomas and Hayward, and would mean that the Boston Garden would be treated to some of the most thunderous dunks we’ve ever seen.