OFFSEASON

Ainge still searching for reliable center

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Ainge still searching for reliable center

WALTHAM Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, likes what he sees thus far with his roster.

Ainge ALWAYS likes what he sees with his roster.

But that has never stopped him from adding a player or two if he feels they can help the C's chances of being successful.

And when you look at their roster as it stands now, it's clear that the C's will at the very least, continue to search high and low for a center.

When asked about whether there was a need to add a center, Ainge said, "Yeah, probably so. That would be nice."

But Ainge was quick to add, "not just a big, but someone that can play and is big."

The free agent market on big men is drying up, but there are a couple that are still available that might be good fits with the Celtics.

Although Kwame Brown appears close to re-signing with the Charlotte Bobcats, he is a player that was on the C's radar last summer when he was a free agent. Another possibility is Joel Przybilla who, like Brown, spent last season with the Bobcats.

After giving their 3 million mid-level exception to Chris Wilcox, the Celtics only have veteran minimum contracts to offer free agents or they could try and work out a sign-and-trade similar to what they did to acquire Brandon Bass from Orlando.

"We knew coming into the summer that we had limited resources," Ainge said. "And it's proven to be very challenging. It's been a chaotic week. There's been a lot of time put in. We're still trying to build our roster, but we like the guys we've signed, the team that we have."

OFFSEASON

Celtics must address needs with free agency on the horizon

Celtics must address needs with free agency on the horizon

BOSTON -- With more salary cap space than they've ever had along with a slew of clear and well-defined needs, the Celtics are sure to be one of the busier teams when free agency begins on Friday.

And while the Celtics’ needs may be all over the place, there is one thing that head coach Brad Stevens and the rest of the Boston Celtics have made no secret about wanting to come away with this offseason.

“The need for increased versatility,” Stevens said.

Indeed, Stevens envisions the NBA becoming more of a position-less league going forward.

When you look at the Cleveland Cavaliers rallying from a 3-1 deficit to knock off Golden State, of course LeBron James was brilliant as well as Kyrie Irving. 

But one of the more stealth keys to that series that factored into its outcome, was the way Cleveland's 6-foot-9 power forward/center Tristan Thompson was able to hold his own defensively against two-time league MVP guard, 6-3 Stephen Curry.

His play was as clear an example of the value in having players with defensive versatility as you will find.

It also has value on the offensive end of the floor as well. 

That helps explain why LSU’s Ben Simmons was selected with the top overall pick, a player with power forward size (6-10, 240) with point guard-like vision.

And in many ways it speaks to why the Celtics decided to draft Jaylen Brown with the No. 3 pick instead of a playmaker like Providence College’s Kris Dunn or sharpshooters like Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield or Kentucky’s Jamal Murray.

Brown stands 6-7, weighs 223 pounds and has a 7-foot wingspan with elite athleticism and quickness getting to the paint. 

“Very few guys can move like Jaylen, can move at his size and at his length,” Stevens said. “So the defensive versatility is a big piece of that; that should be transferable right away.”

As for free agency, the same mantra – seek out versatile players – will remain in effect for Boston.

Of course Kevin Durant is at the top of the Celtics’ free agent wish list after Durant reportedly included Boston on the list of teams he will meet with in New York shortly after free agency begins.

In addition to the Celtics and his current team Oklahoma City, Durant is also planning to talk with officials from the following teams: Golden State, the Los Angeles Clippers, Miami and San Antonio.

Along with Durant, the Celtics are also expected to express interest in Atlanta’s Al Horford; New Orleans’ Ryan Anderson; and possibly Golden State’s Harrison Barnes who will be a restricted free agent which often serves as a deterrent for potential suitors. However, Barnes could wind up being an unrestricted free agent if the Warriors feel as though they will land Durant.

Regardless of which free agents wind up in Boston, you can count on versatility being one of their strengths.

“I only look at the game in four spots; ball-handlers, wings, guys that can play that three-swing spot (some power forward as well as small forward) and bigs,” Stevens said. “The more versatile, the more position-less, the better. That overall provides more opportunities than it does not. That’s a positive when you talk about guys that can do different things at different positions.”