Blakely: Bradley deal makes sense for Celtics

Blakely: Bradley deal makes sense for Celtics
July 2, 2014, 4:30 pm

WALTHAM, Mass. — The Boston Celtics were one of the first teams to strike during the free agency period by coming to terms on a four-year, $32 million deal with Avery Bradley.

There are those who see the signing of Bradley as a waste or too much money on a player who doesn't quite provide the sizzle many hope the Celtics will be able to have this summer. (note: It's been two days, folks! Two days of free agency!)

Others believe the Celtics should go into Tankapalooza 2.0 and do everything they can to gut this roster, guarantee another trip to the NBA lottery, and maybe the basketball gods will reward them with the No. 1 overall pick even when such efforts around these parts in the past have turned up futile, every time.

But the Boston Celtics didn't come to terms with Bradley just so he could help sell t-shirts with his name and face on them, or bring the TD Garden crowd to their feet the minute he enters the building.

The Celtics are trying to put together a winning puzzle and Bradley is just another piece; a talented piece but just a piece nonetheless.

He's a 23-year-old combo guard who has already established himself as one of the best defenders in the NBA, a player whose scoring has improved every year.

The deal he has agreed to recognizes his proven track record as an elite defender and an emerging scoring threat, while recognizing the potential he has shown going forward to improve in those areas and others.

But he has his flaws, for sure.

You can't speak of Bradley and not at some point address his lengthy track record with injuries. It is a factor that the Celtics or any team for that matter, has to weigh.

But Bradley is one of the few players who can take over a game without scoring a single point. And when you look at players pulling in a comparable salary, few possess that ability.

The things that Bradley does well, are the things that aren't sexy or necessarily highlight-worthy.

He defends.

He pokes.

He gets physical.

Most fans would much rather see a player strolling down the lane for a dunk than watch Bradley's defensive artistry at work.

But as Brad Stevens and the Celtics try to build a strong foundation and a winning culture, you need players like Bradley who not only want to play at a high level, but want to play in Boston.

And with a salary expectation that's in line with what a player with Bradley's skills, experience, etc. would get from most teams, why would you wait around to get a deal done?

The Celtics wisely chose to act quickly and lock up another piece to what they hope will be a winning puzzle sooner rather than later.