We’re running a weekly mailbag during the Celtics season. If you have questions about the Celtics or NBA, email firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @briantrobb
What early big men trade targets are out there for the Celtics? — Nick B
It’s a bit too early to dive into the trade weeds since every team around the league is still trying to take stock of the talent they have and a lot of players (including free agents signed this offseason) aren’t eligible to be traded until December. Throw in a few surprise starts by expected tanking teams (Utah, San Antonio) and this is a situation that Boston is going to have to wait on. With that said, there are a few spots of could be of interest to Boston. One is Orlando, who have started 0-5 as usual and have a glut of potentially useful big men on their roster. Once Jonathan Isaac returns, it will be intriguing to see whether they would be willing to kick the tires on an odd man out in their rotation. The same goes for the Pistons with a defensive-minded guy like Nerlens Noel available on the cheap with Detroit focused on younger talent. A prized piece in my mind would remain Jakob Poeltl, who could shore up Boston’s interior defense in a backup role.
Will the Cs add a real center? — Robert D
Big men are a popular topic this week! I’ll reiterate that I believe the Celtics will be prioritizing this position on the trade market down the line but don’t expect any movement to come until December, at which point we will get a clearer understanding of Rob Williams situation. In the meantime, a true big man free agent isn’t going to be brought in anytime soon. There’s a reason guys like Dwight Howard and DeMarcus Cousins are still available for anyone to sign and still remain on the market. They may be able to help solve Boston’s rebounding problems but their limitations will outweigh those pros. The Celtics should just be looking for players who can help for the long haul and no one on the free agent market fills that void at this point.
Hello Brian! How long do you think they give the backup bigs before looking for a new 1 if they don’t perform well, & which do they use against teams with double bigs like Cleveland, next to Al? How do they fix the perimeter defense lately so rim protection is easier for the bigs? — Eddy F.B.
Alright, a question more for the present. Friday’s matchup against the Cavs with Grant Williams suspended will dictate we get a broader look at the Celtics big options down the bench. The Cavs have a sizable frontcourt in Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen along with true bigs coming off the bench in Kevin Love and Robin Lopez so the Celtics could be in line for trouble if they stay small against them. I’d expect Boston to go with their usual starting five but we will get a glimpse of how Joe Mazzulla trusts the most out of the remainder of his bigs. Noah Vonleh has been the top choice so far outside of Grant Williams but a chance at extended runs for Blake Griffin, Luke Kornet and perhaps Mfiondu Kabengele who could be in uniform for added depth with the Celtics down so many bigs. Given Boston’s rebounding woes, going with double bigs should help on that front but could take away some offensive upside. Nights like this will be crucial for evaluation Boston’s current bigs though as the team determines what upgrades are needed via trade later in the year.
As far as the perimeter defense goes, I think that’s been as big of an issue as anything so far in the team’s subpar defense. Boston’s wings and guards have not done well fighting through screens and that’s opening the door for a lot of open looks. Look for a renewed commitment on that front starting Friday night after a full week of practice for Mazzulla to hammer in on it.
Aron Baynes worked out for teams a few weeks ago. Is he a viable consideration to bring in as a backup center? -- Ted
Not yet. Baynes ended up signing in Australia with the Brisbane Bullets after that workout, although he likely has an NBA out in his contract. He looked sharp in the Bullets’ first win last week (17 points, 14 rebounds) but the Celtics or any other NBA team are going to have stay see a lot more consistency to give him another NBA shot. It would make for a great story if it happens but it feels unlikely at this juncture given Baynes’ age.
Do you think the team will look to move PP (is there a market?), or keep him around as injury insurance? — Evan P
Injury insurance for now. Things could change in December though once the trade market picks up or if Boston’s roster is hit with another frontcourt injury. Dug more into the Pritchard situation last week in the mailbag.
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