Boston Celtics

  • BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JUNE 08: Jaylen Brown #7, Jayson Tatum #0, Marcus Smart #36 and teammates high five during a timeout in the third quarter against the Golden State Warriors during Game Three of the 2022 NBA Finals at TD Garden on June 08, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – JUNE 08: Jaylen Brown #7, Jayson Tatum #0, Marcus Smart #36 and teammates high five during a timeout in the third quarter against the Golden State Warriors during Game Three of the 2022 NBA Finals at TD Garden on June 08, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

    The Boston Celtics appear to be done making moves. Big ones, anyway. So it’s time to stop and take a breath, and look at the roster as it stands in July.

    Despite fizzling out in the 2022 NBA Finals, the Celtics’ future remains bright, with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown seemingly locked in atop the depth charts. Despite the media’s best efforts to wish into existence a Kevin Durant trade or whatever.

    Beyond the two main stars, the C’s are running it back with many of the same pieces that powered them to an elite second half and a somewhat unexpected run to the NBA Finals. Then, in the off-season, Celtics President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens was able to add an impact player without giving up any of those key pieces, and supplement the bench as well.

    The off-season hasn’t been without disappointments. Most recently, the Celtics allowed their $17.1 million traded player exception expire, which means they essentially traded Evan Fournier for nothing a year ago. It seems that Stevens opted for targeting a player in a separate trade, and he was comfortable counting that as their big move.

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  • The Celtics still have lower-level TPEs available, but don’t have to use them imminently. For now, the roster appears set, if only because they’re now well into the luxury tax after their big trade. With all that in mind, let’s take a look at their roster and depth charts as currently constituted…

    Projected Starters

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - MARCH 16: Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics talks with Al Horford #42 during the second half of their game against the Atlanta Hawks at TD Garden on March 16, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics defeat the Hawks 129-120. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – MARCH 16: Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics talks with Al Horford #42 during the second half of their game against the Atlanta Hawks at TD Garden on March 16, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics defeated the Hawks 129-120. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    PG Marcus Smart
    SG Jaylen Brown
    SF Jayson Tatum
    PF Al Horford
    C Robert Williams

    It seems unlikely that the addition of Malcolm Brogdon would do much to break up this group of five, which suddenly gelled and went on a tear in the second half of the regular season. But perhaps Brogdon (more on him below) will end up cutting into Smart’s starts and minutes, depending on performance and matchups.

  • The rest of the starting five is locked in. Horford is a bit of a wild card, since he will be 36 years old and it would be a tall order to expect a similar level of play that we saw during the Celtics’ NBA Finals run. And that relates to what we’re looking at beyond the starters…

    Projected Bench

    Mar 18, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon (7) takes a three-point shot against the Houston Rockets during the fourth quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

    Mar 18, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon (7) takes a three-point shot against the Houston Rockets during the fourth quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

    Backcourt

    G Malcolm Brogdon
    G Derrick White
    G/F Danilo Gallinari
    G Payton Pritchard
    G J.D. Davison
    G Brodric Thomas

    The Celtics are truly set at the guard spots, assuming no one else is headed out the door. So set, in fact, that they’re running the risk of a “Too Many Cooks” situation.

    One of the challenges ahead for head coach Ime Udoka will be to manage the minutes – and egos – of Brogdon and Smart – and White and Pritchard, for that matter – and getting them all pulling in the same direction. After their mid-season turnaround this past season, there’s reason to be confident that he can figure that out. But early bumps in the road are possible.

    Gallinari is set to be leaned on as a dependable scoring wing off the bench, who can spell Jayson Tatum and/or Jaylen Brown and produce reasonably as a replacement. The Celtics missed that type of player off the bench in the NBA Finals.

  • Frontcourt

    F Grant Williams
    F Sam Hauser
    F/C Luke Kornet
    C Mfiondu Kabengele

    Williams is an asset as a “three-and-D” guy who can defend multiple positions and knock down open shots when the opportunity’s right. The team has high hopes for former undrafted free agent Sam Hauser to provide more sharpshooting off the bench; he’s coming off a season in which he shot 43.2 percent from three in limited minutes.

    But this is where the roster, generally, thins out a bit. There’s no reasonable 1-for-1 replacement for Robert Williams, and no one with the experience or versatility of Horford. The Celtics are likely to be in the market for a big for this reason, perhaps even before camp.

  • So what’s the rotation?

    SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 02: Head coach Ime Udoka of the Boston Celtics speaks to his team during a timeout in the fourth quarter against the Golden State Warriors in Game One of the 2022 NBA Finals at Chase Center on June 02, 2022 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

    SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 02: Head coach Ime Udoka of the Boston Celtics speaks to his team during a timeout in the fourth quarter against the Golden State Warriors in Game One of the 2022 NBA Finals at Chase Center on June 02, 2022 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

    Overall, the Celtics got better and deeper this off-season. That means Udoka may be able to lengthen his playoff rotation when the time comes.

    If Udoka keeps it to just eight players, who’s left out? Tatum-Brown-Smart-Horford-Robert Williams-Brogdon is locked in as a top-6, however they are configured. From there, White, Gallinari, Grant Williams, Pritchard, Hauser, and rookie J.D. Davison are going to compete for minutes. The rest should be considered non-factors for the main roster until further notice.

    The C’s may have improved depth, but that’s going to lead to questions of how the minutes will shake out. That’ll be one of the most important big-picture topics to follow for the 2022-23 season.