Boston Celtics Mailbag: Rudy Gay Trade, Al Horford’s Future, Free Agent Big Possibilities

We run a weekly mailbag during the Celtics off-season. If you have questions about the Celtics or the NBA, send an email brobb@masslive.com or tweet @briantrobb

Which experienced big man do you think they should sign before the end of the summer? Should they play the 2-way guys with some of the starter/rotation guys in preseason to see what they have? Who do you think will contribute the most, PP or Hauser off the bench as 11/12. Man? — Whirl

The list of available bigs out there is uninspiring to say the least. I’ll have a full breakdown of options here at MassLive over the next week, but one name that’s still out there that would intrigue me a bit is Cody Zeller. He’s recovered from an injury that caused him to be left out of the Blazers roster last year, but he’s still in his 20s. If he can get it right, his topside is a little more attractive than the rest of the veterans.

We won’t see 2-way lads in the usual rotation in the post-season, but a guy like Kabengele will certainly be in the mix to contend for the 11th or 12th man in the squad to play Al Horford in the evenings and/or Rob Williams could see limited reruns. Pritchard will definitely be in for a regular rotation spot in the mix, despite the team’s depth in backcourt. Could see Ime Udoka scaled down with some bench units to buy him a few minutes if he earns a place in training camp. Hauser has it a lot harder for minutes because of the talent in front of him.

Thinking about possibly acting for Jordan Clarkson? —Edwin K

After trading with Malcolm Brogdon, that doesn’t happen. The Celtics would have no interest if they paid the fifth-best guard on their $27 million roster over the next two years. I’d expect Danny Ainge to cover him somewhere when Utah is completely rebuilt with a Donovan Mitchell trade, but that place won’t be Boston.

Any chance of Celts signing a new 2 year deal with Horford (no renewal) for ~35m to lower the cap hit this year and allow use of the TPE that contributes to the tax bill? It would effectively add ~9 million for one more year of service. Something I think the team would want. Win, win. – Dustin W

Good question Dustin. This would have been a possibility had Horford or the Celtics had an option for the final year of his contract. However, that’s not the case, so there’s no real way for the Celtics to lower the cap hit for this year. Horford could be waived and then re-sign for the veteran minimum, but the Celtics would not have bird rights on him in that scenario, so he would give up Boston’s ability to pay him beyond middle money in the future. The Celtics would probably prefer to use their mid-level money on someone other than him who is also moving forward.

The Celtics need to buy the ball with his full cap hit for this year ($26.5 million). After that it will be an intriguing choice for Horford. Is he trying to maximize his payday like he did in his last contract with Philadelphia? Or is he willing to strike a team-friendly deal to stay in Boston?

Explain Kornet’s multi-year contract. Why so early and so long? It blocks a roster slot for development players and is a tax hit because it’s not 1 year. I’d much rather see one of the Summer Celts get that spot. Was there actual competition for his services?

It’s only guaranteed for $100,000 per league source, but that increases to $1 million if he makes the opening night list. From this point of view, Kornet has to take the team to training camp to see a significant part of the salary for this year. It’s essentially a training camp deal with a little added financial incentive to do it in Boston. Barring better competition, he currently holds the inside lane on one of Boston’s last four rosters.

Celtics need a backup center that you think they will get. – Archie

Why didn’t they sign a replacement center for Rob? —Tim K

They’re still looking for at least one more. The signing of Kabengele on a two-way gives them extra insurance up front and adding another big one to the 15-man squad appears to be required. With most good teams currently left with just the bare minimum of veteran to offer experienced centers, I think many players and teams are bidding on potential opportunities before committing. The Celtics could try to bring a cheap size they like from overseas (see: Daniel Theis, Vincent Poirier) that they think could make a contribution, or hope they can get someone into the veteran market for short money can bring. We’ll have a full breakdown of the possibilities next week, but I’m excited to see a guy like Zeller when he recovers. However, he may be looking for a bigger role elsewhere.

I know they want depth, but do you think they’ll move a guard anyway? Maybe Derrick White because he now feels like an expensive 3rd Guardian whose skills now seem to be repeating themselves. We could potentially get another athletic wing (Crowder, Morris sr etc.) or maybe use it to seek out someone like John Collins for our long-term fourth-place Al replacement. – Jason S

After all, white could be considered a luxury from a financial perspective. Right now I think they’re going to like having the extra depth in the back to see how it all looks together. Ime Udoka lacked the ability to blend with the bench in the NBA Finals and that was ultimately one of the reasons the Celtics fell. Now Udoka has that luxury and a variety of options as a point guard, so he doesn’t have to rely as heavily on Marcus Smart or Jaylen Brown to play big minutes every night and still grab wins. White could eventually be moved as the main trade chip for a bigger fish, but moving it for an aging wing like Crowder or Morris does nothing for this group in my opinion.

Hey Brian, if the Jazz are rockin’ by the looks of it, what do you think of Rudy Gay as our used veteran grand piano off the bench? I think he would fit in the Juancho trade exception and Danny might just want to lose salary on a 2nd or 2nd round election. Thanks! mike

The 35-year-old was certainly available cheaply after falling out of Utah’s rotation in the closing months of last season. Gay has been given a $6.4 million player option for next year, so Utah would certainly be keen to move him if they go into full rebuild mode. However, it’s fair to now wonder how much gay is left in the tank. He shot a career-low 41.4 percent from the field last year and has also never been known for his defense. The Celtics could use a different wing, but ideally it’s one that can also defend a little, and Gay can’t reliably do that at this stage in his career. Given that Boston have already landed two offensive signings in Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari this offseason, I’d be surprised if they were willing to give up an asset and accept another $6 million one-man contract who might not even earn minutes a night. Aside from that, Ime Udoka likely has a relationship with him from his time in San Antonio. So if Gay is bought out by Utah, he would make a lot of sense on a minimum contract.

Please mail any questions about the Celtics or the NBA to for a future mailbag brobb@masslive.com or tweet @briantrobb

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.