Shams: Celtics plan to make a push for free-agent center Nikola Vucevic
By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Celtics didn’t make any major moves on draft night, but they still have room to target one of the bigger free agents on the market. According to the latest from top NBA insider Shams Charania, they’re going to target a big man in the wake of Al Horford’s impending departure – specifically, the Magic’s Nikola Vucevic.
Sports network Stadium tweeted a report from Shams overnight on Friday where he says that Vucevic “is going to be one of the top priorities, potentially, for the Boston Celtics as a free agent in July.” He notes the Celtics’ salary-shedding moves, most recently sending Aron Baynes to the Suns on Thursday night.
Now, it appears that Danny Ainge’s main focus on the open market will be to find a replacement for Horford. Other UFA options at center this summer include DeMarcus Cousins, DeAndre Jordan, Jonas Valanciunas, and the Lopez twins, Brook and Robin.
Vucevic would certainly be a replacement for Horford in terms of his size (7 feet, 260 pounds) and the position he plays, but his style would be a departure from what Horford brought to the team.
The 28-year-old big man finished third among all centers in the NBA (minimum 60 games) last season with 23.9 points per 36 minutes, fifth in win shares with 10.1, and seventh in rebounds with 13.8. However, his defense away from the ball leaves much to be desired. Vucevic is a very good rebounder and has improved his play without the ball, but he’d still be a step back from Horford in that department.
But as solid as Horford was when called upon offensively, Vucevic would represent an upgrade at that end of the floor. If Vucevic does sign with the Celtics, it would be up for debate whether that shift makes the Celtics better or worse. But it would certainly make them different.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at email@example.com.