Analyst predicts Luke Kornets' non-Boston Celtics offseason destination

Sacramento Kings v Boston Celtics
Sacramento Kings v Boston Celtics / Omar Rawlings/GettyImages

Luke Kornet went from languishing at the end of the bench to a perennial fan favorite who has carved out a critical-depth role during his tenure with the Boston Celtics. His quirky yet endearing personality has made him a refreshing change of pace in the typically egotistical NBA. From the "Kornet contest" to his wacky celebrations, he stands out in the best possible way.

There's only one problem: Kornet will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Bleacher Report's Zach Buckley thinks the big man's time in Boston is running out.

"The 7'2", 250-pounder has more than held his own as a rotation regular and is quietly producing perhaps the finest season of his career," Buckley said. "He is someone the Celtics should want to keep. The question is whether they can afford him. Kornet is helpful to have, but is he a necessity? That probably hinges on how the market views him."

Buckley predicted Kornet would reunite with former Celtics teammate Marcus Smart and sign a deal with the Memphis Grizzlies.

Luke Kornet should be welcomed back to the Boston Celtics

Even after extending Jrue Holiday to a long-term contract, the franchise still has to extend Jayson Tatum and Derrick White. Kornet and fellow frontcourt mate Xavier Tillman are on the outside looking in as players who would likely need to take a pay cut to stay with the team.

It's a tricky situation for both parties. Kornet has improved drastically on the court. He has transformed himself into a viable rim-runner who can protect the paint and be a threat at the dunker spot. His intensity has even gone up a notch, gobbling up boards at the best rate of his career and creating an extensive collection of explosive putback slams. Even at his best, he hasn't carved out a consistent role in the rotation.

Brad Stevens can only give Kornet a few million dollars because of the club's financial constraints. Despite his inconsistent minutes, Kornet has proven he is a serviceable backup center. With his 29th birthday on the horizon, he will likely prioritize getting the best contract he can.

The Celtics can likely lure a big man during free agency to chase a ring at a discounted rate. Kornet's energy and presence would be a tough loss, but his play is replicable. Plenty of other teams could use his services, as he could be an immediate spark in the locker room and has the potential to excel with an expanded role. 

If, for whatever reason, his options are scarce, the C's should welcome him back with open arms and feel fortunate they were able to retain his services.