With NBA free agency officially beginning on Thursday, June 30, the Boston Celtics will hit the open market looking for new talent in order to stage a run back to the Finals. The Celtics strung together an impressive season in 2021-22, highlighted by their second-half run which culminated in an NBA Finals appearance.
Now, they’ll look to further fortify their roster in order to run it back through the gauntlet of the Eastern Conference. However, since Boston is already over the luxury tax, any additions signed to the team will likely be at a lower price. The C’s do have a $6.39 million traded-player exception at their disposal. That could be a very valuable tool for them this offseason, but there are a few players they must avoid targeting at that cost.
With that in mind, here are three players the Celtics should avoid in free agency.
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3 players Celtics must avoid in 2022 NBA free agency
3) LaMarcus Aldridge
Aldridge is on the tail-end of a career that could see him head to the Basketball Hall of Fame, but that does not mean he should head to Boston this offseason.
There is no denying Aldridge’s best years are behind him, as he averaged his third-lowest point total (12.9 PPG) of his 17-year career last season. While he still has respectable offensive production, his rebounding ability has trailed off, and most importantly, his defensive game has shown some significant lapses lately.
The Celtics could probably afford the seven-time All-Star, but his age–and unfortunately, his health–provide more questions than answers. Plus, with a veteran like Al Horford, the Celtics already have an aging big who is much better defensively. The fit for Aldridge just isn’t there, and he realistically wouldn’t make the Celtics a much better team.
2) TJ Warren
Although he once dominated the NBA Bubble, Warren may never get back to that same level of play due to some serious injury history.
The small forward has played just four games over the last two seasons for the Pacers. Yetm since he had a spectacular end to the 2019-2020 season, he may have a higher price tag than some safer free-agent options. This hasn’t stopped the Celtics from showing interest in Warren though, per Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer.
Regardless of health, Warren typically needs a high volume of shots to produce. In the last three seasons in which he played major minutes, he averaged more than 14 shots per game. This style of play may not mix well with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, as they need the ball frequently and would be better supported by a three-point specialist who camps out beyond the arc. While Warren may be intriguing, he represents way too much of a risk for a team that doesn’t have much flexibility in the offseason.
1) Kemba Walker
Brad Stevens has an affinity for bringing back the former Celtics (see Daniel Theis, Horford, et cetera), but Walker should not join this list for Boston’s own good.
According to NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski, Walker is nearing a contract buyout with the Pistons that will make him a free agent again.
Four-time All-Star guard Kemba Walker and the Detroit Pistons are finalizing a contract buyout, sources tell ESPN. Once Walker clears waivers, he’ll join free agency.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 30, 2022
Following a largely unsuccessful tenure with the Celtics, Walker then struggled with the New York Knicks, eventually leading to his benching for a large portion of last season.
The four-time All-Star does fit into a position Boston needs to improve upon, however, it is impossible to ignore his lingering injury problems. At best, Walker would be a temporary point guard for the Celtics who could provide short-term depth. Given his knee issues and overall decline though, the veteran is not worth the higher contract he might ask for. He doesn’t provide much value defensively, and he’s most effective when scoring and shooting at a high volume, which is not what Boston needs out of free agency.