With Brad Wanamaker hitting restricted free agency, the Boston Celtics must gauge his value by observing the open market.
Brad Wanamaker is the lone official Boston Celtics free agent this offseason, as he enters restricted free agency off of his second year in green. This year, Wanamaker struggled in some regular-season games, but got it together in the playoffs, giving the Cs capable backup point guard minutes, and knocking down open shots from the perimeter.
The 31-year-old averaged 6.9 points in 71 games in the 2019-2020 season, while shooting just under 45 percent from the field, 36 percent from three, and a league-best 92.6% from the free-throw line.
Along with those shooting stats, he recorded two rebounds, 2.5 assists, and just shy of a steal per contest. He improved immensely on defense, as with his 210-pound frame and his quick feet, he always had the tools to guard opposing one guards. Coach Brad Stevens called on him for almost 20 minutes a game this season, indicating his precision on both sides of the ball.
Wanamaker has proven he can work well in the Boston Celtics’ system, with 89 percent of his three-point attempts being assisted on. This means that the better Celtics ball handlers such as Jayson Tatum and Gordon Hayward can drive to the paint and kick out to the Philly native, getting him frequent open looks.
In the playoffs, the sophomore guard used his short release to get off his shot even more, draining 44 percent of his shots from beyond the arc, forcing opponents to respect his ability to hit from deep.
As well as being able to play off-ball, over 80 percent of his attempts on the year were from either within 10 feet of the basket or a three-pointer, something that the Boston Celtics coaching staff and front office love to see. This means he’s taking efficient shots from a mathematical perspective, following the natural trajectory of the league.
As for contract negotiations, Boston would obviously love to keep him around. Being a restricted free agent, he will likely get offers from other teams, but Beantown has the right to match any potential offer that he receives. Danny Ainge will try to lock Wanamaker up for at least two years, securing above-average backup point guard play, which is essential for teams trying to compete for a championship.
As for comparable deals, look to T.J. McConnell with the Indiana Pacers, as he signed a two-year deal worth $7M last offseason. This would put the annual salary at $3.5M, which would allow the Celtics a little bit of room to improve, while not expending too much money to retain a rotational player.
That said, do not expect the team to offer more than $5M annually, as that would put the shamrocks even deeper into the tax, a bill they want to limit as much as possible without cutting down their chances at competing.
If another team were to offer more than $5M per year, which is unlikely, expect Ainge to cut their losses on Wanamaker and develop another backup ball-handler, or look to the draft for a guard.
Fortunately, C’s fans can expect Wanamaker to be on the team for next season, as both sides most definitely want to get a deal done.