Boston Celtics

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 22: Marcus Smart #36 of the Boston Celtics reacts in the third quarter against the Brooklyn Nets during Game One of their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series on May 22, 2021 at Barclays Center in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The Celtics need a point guard, badly. Right now, they have Marcus Smart, Payton Pritchard, Tremont Waters, and Carsen Edwards in the backcourt. That is a lot of youth, and not a lot of talent.

Boston doesn’t have enough cap space to sign some of the biggest names this offseason, but they will have plenty of space next year. So, the C’s don’t want to spend too much now and ruin their opportunity to hit on a big fish in the future.

With all of that said, the Celtics most likely won’t be in the Kyle Lowry/Mike Conley/Goran Dragic sweepstakes, but there are some enticing free-agent depth guards. Here are three options Boston should target this offseason to alleviate the backcourt problem:

Reggie Jackson: One of the more underrated free agent guards this offseason. Jackson may not be his old self, but he can still score pretty easily. Jackson averaged 10.7 points, 3.1 assists. 2.9 rebounds in 23 minutes per game this season. He also shot 43 percent from three.

He can create for himself, but is also not a needy player that requires to have the ball each possession, which is good because the Celtics don’t need that type of guy. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown will garner the most offensive attention, so they just need a solid tertiary scoring option. Jackson can be that.

What is most enticing about Jackson is his defense. According to StatMuse, Jackson had a defensive rating of 113.3 this season. To put that in perspective, Marcus Smart, who is widely believed to be one of the best defensive guards in the entire NBA, had a 113.2 defensive rating.

Wherever he goes, his value has gone up. Jackson is most likely in the $8-10 million range. The Celtics could afford that.

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 13: Reggie Jackson #1 of the LA Clippers reacts following a three point basket during the third quarter of their game against the Charlotte Hornets at Spectrum Center on May 13, 2021 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Lou Williams: His name precedes him. The veteran guard has won NBA Sixth Man of the Year three times, and he’s a walking bucket. Williams has been a consistent double-digit scorer throughout his career, and can get others involved, too. Plus, he’s a spark off the bench that can carry the load for the second unit, which the Celtics have lacked in recent years.

The one downside is Williams is getting up there in age, and he is starting to wear down. He was traded from the Clippers to the Hawks this past season and almost retired because of it. It’s unclear if Williams will keep playing or if he wants to move yet again. However, in the $7-9 million range, he is financially attainable for the Celtics.

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – JUNE 25: Lou Williams #6 of the Atlanta Hawks moves the ball against Jrue Holiday #21 of the Milwaukee Bucks during the second half in game two of the Eastern Conference Finals at Fiserv Forum on June 25, 2021 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Elfrid Payton: The Knicks guard isn’t the flashiest of names on the free agency list. Payton is coming off the worst season of his career, but he is still a serviceable point. The 27-year-old is a buy-low type of asset.

Before the 2020-21 season, Payton consistently averaged more than six assists and a steal per game. He is also an above-average rebounder for his size. He didn’t put up gaudy numbers in New York, but he lost minutes due to a busy backcourt.

Payton’s contracts have bounced up and down throughout his career. After this past season, his stock is a little down, so the Celtics could probably sign Payton for a very doable contract in the $5 million range.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – FEBRUARY 21: Elfrid Payton #6 of the New York Knicks reacts during the second half against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Madison Square Garden on February 21, 2021 in New York City. The Knicks won 103-99. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Old Popovich Quote Sheds Light On Ime Udoka

Celtics new head coach Ime Udoka has had his name in the mix for coaching vacancies for years, going as far back as a half decade. In a 2015 ESPN story, Kevin Arnovitz named Udoka as a top prospect saying he “probably has a couple more years of seasoning ahead of him, but it’s not long before he hits the interview circuit.”

Arnovitz was spot on with his assessment and also gave us a gem of a quote from Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich:

“He exudes a confidence and a comfort in his own skin where people just gravitate to him. He’s a fundamentally sound teacher because he’s comfortable with himself, he knows the material and players read it. Oftentimes, I’ll say, ‘Ime, can you go talk to so-and-so? Go talk to Patty Mills, go talk to Timmy, go talk to Kawhi.’ And he’ll do it better than I would do it – and I’m not blowing smoke.”

SAN ANTONIO, TX - OCTOBER 24: Patty Mills #8 of the San Antonio Spurs, assistant coaches Becky Hammon, Ime Udoka, and head coach Gregg Popovich watch action against the Indiana Pacers from the bench during an NBA game on October 24, 2018 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. The Indiana Pacers won 116-96. (Photo by Edward A. Ornelas/Getty Images)

SAN ANTONIO, TX – OCTOBER 24: Patty Mills #8 of the San Antonio Spurs, assistant coaches Becky Hammon, Ime Udoka, and head coach Gregg Popovich watch action against the Indiana Pacers from the bench during an NBA game on October 24, 2018 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. The Indiana Pacers won 116-96. (Photo by Edward A. Ornelas/Getty Images)

Being able to talk to players better than arguably the best coach of all-time is quite high praise. Popovich went on to say: “The only thing I don’t like about him is that he doesn’t drink, so I can’t enjoy a glass of wine with him. He’s really boring at dinner.”

It is a classic line from Popovich, who likes to joke around with the media, but it also shows how serious Udoka is. From everything being reported, the new Celtics head coach is all business and ready to take over his new role.

Celtics Stay Busy Scouting Before NBA Draft

The Celtics don’t own any first-round draft picks this season, after trading away the 16th overall pick in the Kemba Walker trade. Their sole selection comes right in the middle of the second round at No. 45 overall. Despite that, Boston is staying busy leading up to the NBA Draft, according to Chris Grenham.

Just last week, the Celtics worked out and interviewed over a dozen players while also scouting all of the guys at the NBA Combine. Most notably, Florida State’s Scottie Barnes, Virginia’s Sam Hauser, and Gonzaga’s Corey Kispert were all in communication with the C’s.

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – APRIL 05: Corey Kispert #24 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs looks on during the National Championship game of the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament against the Baylor Bears at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 05, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Most of those players are projected to be selected before the Celtics’ second-round pick, but Brad Stevens and company are doing their due diligence. With few future draft assets to offer and not many roster moves imminent, it is doubtful Boston will move up to grab any of those guys.

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