Looking strictly at the Boston Celtics‘ back court, they have managed to assemble one of the more intriguing cores in the league. Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Smart should to be the most secure and safe aspects of that back court court but who will be around them in the future will be intriguing. Much of what happens will depend on the development on their youth and that may force them to make some tough decisions.
The Celtics are one of youngest team in the league but when they are thinking about their long term future, they will have to make some big decisions regarding youth vs experience. Evan Turner and Avery Bradley still remain young, but are the veterans of this Celtics squad. They are 25 and 27 years old and while that is far from aged, they are both going to be looking for a new contract in the next two years and by the time the rookies are taking on similar roles, they will be the veterans of the team.
The Celtics will have to make a decision regarding Turner this offseason and then Bradley will be up next offseason. The Celtics have been successful because of their back court and there is a case to be made that they should keep their current core of guards assembled. That means getting Turner on a relative bargain, and chances are Bradley will look for a nice pay raise after next season.
The problem will be that if the Celtics bring back the experienced Turner and Bradley, to go along with Smart and Thomas, then they will continue to stand in the way of both R.J Hunter and Terry Rozier. The two rookie guards need time to develop but if the Celtics opt to bring back both Bradley and Turner, then there simply will not be enough playing time to go around. The Celtics need to evaluate whether or not they are better off sticking with what they have, or taking a risk with the youth and potential they have assembled.
Right now, it feels as though Bradley and Hunter may be in the worse positions. Bradley is certainly the best player of that group of four but he will also be the most expensive, by far. The Celtics need Bradley’s defense and he has evolved into one of their best shooters. The problem is that the Celtics have already loved what they have seen from Rozier, and if he is a part of their future plans then it may not be worth it to pay Bradley.
Rozier still needs to develop his offense but he has the defensive ability and energy to continue their stellar back court defense. The Celtics may see Rozier’s top end potential to be better than what Bradley is right now, and if that is the case then they will be better off going with the younger option.
Hunter is in a worse situation than Rozier simply because he never established the level of comfort in the lineup like Rozier did this season. Hunter needs to work on the consistency with his shot and there are a lot of question marks surrounding his defense. The Celtics certainly cannot give up on Hunter but he needs to take over a significant role and can give the Celtics a massive boost with his three point shooting.
The Celtics still have time before they make definitive determinations with the rookies but they need to figure out what is happening with Turner and Bradley right now. In the long term, the Celtics will not be able to pay all these guards but the good news is that they have options, even if they are running out of time with Turner and Bradley.
The Celtics have an opportunity to get exactly what they want in their front court but they cannot afford to make a mistake. The Celtics depend too much on their guards to be successful and they cannot afford to let their experienced guards walk unless they know exactly what they will get out of their youth.
Depending on what kind of contract Bradley is looking for, the Celtics may hold on to all of them for the next few years but if Rozier or Hunter turn into the player the Celtics want them to be then they will eventually run into cap issues. The Celtics have great youth and they are beginning to develop experienced veterans but the future of this franchise may hinge on them making the right decisions in shaping the back court of their future.