With the Milwaukee Bucks taking home the 2020-21 NBA Championship, the focus is now 100% on next season around the league. Of course, around these parts, that’s been the focus since the Boston Celtics were on the receiving end of a five-game beatdown at the hands of the Brooklyn Nets this past May/June.
After the new President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens dealt away the C’s first-round draft selection (#16) in the 2021 NBA Draft to get off of Kemba Walker’s contract, the focus has narrowed to solely the trade market and free agency.
Stevens may not have the ammunition to pull off another major blockbuster if he isn’t willing to part with long-time rotation members, 2021 All-Star Jaylen Brown and 2X All-Defensive First Team member Marcus Smart, in a deal. Besides, many feel that another blockbuster isn’t the answer anyway.
Instead, it could be finding a bench capable of maintaining at least a decent scoring pace while the starters are on the pine. The second unit’s scoring output placed them squarely in the middle of the pack in 2020-21 and was the primary culprit preventing them from consistently hanging in there with top teams for the full 48 minutes.
Chowder and Champions’ Tarringo Basile-vaughan believes that San Antonio Spurs free agent Rudy Gay could make for a worthwhile addition for the struggling Cs bench mob:
"The 34-year-old veteran has been linked to the Celtics in the past, but now he should be an affordable pickup for the team. Last season with the San Antonio Spurts, Gay averaged 11.4 points while shooting 38.1 percent from behind the three-point stripe.As a valued veteran coming off the bench, that kind of production could be a great addition to the Boston Celtics bench. If Stevens looks to pursue Gay, new head coach Ime Udoka is familiar with him as his former assistant coach with the Spurs. In all, this would not be a sexy free agent signing, but given the midlevel exception value, it would be a great add given Rudy Gay’s experience."
Gay hasn’t been the same since he ruptured his Achilles tendon in 2017, though he did just have his finest shooting performance from the 3-point line of his career, averaging 38% from downtown on over four attempts per game. His previous career-high in a season in which he shot over three attempts per game came in his truncated 2016-17 season that was robbed because of the aforementioned Achilles tear.
At this stage in his career, Gay is no longer the isolation threat he was during his days with the Toronto Raptors and Memphis Grizzlies, or even the early days of his Sacramento stay. Instead, he has become a role player that can finish when provided easy looks and create a bucket or two for himself scoring on second units.
The Boston Celtics could use a familiar face for new head coach Ime Udoka to help get his message across in the locker-room. Gay could be that guy, serving the role on the roster Jabari Parker tried to in 2020-21.
We’ll see if Stevens will use his MLE on another wing, or if the PG spot will be more of a focus in free agency.