After a 25-57 year, anything can happen to the Boston Celtics roster. Trades, free agency, and the draft promise to alter the look of the fourth worst team in the NBA last year.
Avery Bradley is one of those players that could be on the way out, he is a restricted free agent with an injury history. The Celtics had floated out a 4-year $24 million dollar deal this winter while Bradley was in the middle of a successful stint of health. He had returned to his 2011-12 form, shooting the ball better from the field and scoring more points than ever. He didn't bite, instead deciding to test the restricted fee agency waters.
Murphy wrote, "Bradley's ongoing brittleness considered, the C's are unlikely to return to the four-year, $24 millions extension that was previously offered. The injury issue may also limit what he finds on the market this summer."
In some ways this could be a good thing for the Celtics. They could get a player that might be valued at $6 million for possibly $4-5 million a year. The length of the deal has to be a question too. Would Bradley want a short deal to prove his worth and that he can stay healthy? It's a possibility.
Bradley's strength is on the defensive end. He is an elite defender and has been named to the All-NBA defensive second team once (2012-13). Looking at some of the salaries at the shooting guard position players like Thabo Sefolosha ($3.9 million) and Kirk Hinrich ($4 million) seem like fair comparisons. The closer you get to $6 million a year the closer you get to the top 15 paid shooting guards in the league (it's tough to argue Bradley's place among the top 15 shooting guards). J.R. Smith and Wesley Matthews (two very different players than Bradley) are making $5.5 and $5.7 million, respectively.
Tony Allen, a former Celtic, made quite a splash this off-season. He showed that elite defenders can alter and lengthen a playoff series. Allen is currently being paid $4.4 million. The money Allen is paid is strictly for defensive purposes, as Allen is an offensive liability. When Allen was with the Celtics he shot the ball horribly, played a little point guard if he had to, and drove fans crazy with his bad decisions with the ball.
Bradley is nowhere near as maddening as Allen is. Bradley has showed he can play offense and he can contribute with three point shooting, a somewhat threatening mid-range game, and cutting to the basket when Rajon Rondo is on the floor.
Even with the growing offensive skills, Bradley's injury history paired with the fact that he might not be a starter on a very good team, could put him right in the Sefolosha, Allen, Matthews, and Hinrich area. Those players have bounced between starting lineups and the second unit for most of their careers. Bradley is only 23 years old, so he will have a crack at free agency again at 27 or 28.
Bradley has had his chance to prove himself, and now it's up to Danny Ainge and the rest of the league to decide what Bradley's worth. Some team could be seeking a defensive minded shooting guard for their second unit. If that's what they need to put them over the top, then he might get a nice payday.
The hope should be that the Celtics can keep Bradley around (and healthy) and find a third guard to join him and Rondo in order to improve their offensive potency.
Tags: Avery Bradley, Basketball, Boston, Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, injury, J.R. Smith, Kirk Hinrich, Mark Murphy, NBA, Rajon Rondo, Tony Allen, Wesley Matthews