BOSTON While all eyes are focused on the Boston Celtics and their quest to move past Philadelphia Saturday night and on to the Eastern Conference finals, the C's are quietly going about looking towards the future by bringing in potential targets for next month's NBA draft.
The Celtics had a handful of players in town on Friday, a group that included St. Bonaventure star Andrew Nicholson.
Nicholson, who is 6-foot-9 with a 7-4 wingspan, told CSNNE.com that the workout in Boston "went well," and added that it was the first of many he would have between now and next month's draft.
"I've got 13 more (workouts) lined up," said Nicholson, who said he plans to be in Oklahoma City on Saturday for a workout.
Several draft boards project the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year and honorable mention All-America as a late first-round pick, which would put him squarely in the cross hairs of the Celtics as a possible first-round selection.
Boston currently has their own pick at No. 21, and the next pick at No. 22 pick as part of last year's Kendrick Perkins trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
In addition to Nicholson, other big men participating in the Celtics workout included Kevin Jones of West Virginia, Mike Scott of Virginia, Michigan State All-America Draymond Green and Detroit Mercy forward Eli Coleman, who has already had workouts with the Los Angeles Lakers and the New Jersey Nets.
While the needs of the Celtics may be many this offseason, there's little doubt that the C's will target size and versatility in this year's draft.
Boston has five players under contract for the 2012-2013 season, a total that does not include center Greg Stiemsma who is expected to get a qualifying offer of 1.05 million, and in all likelihood sign a multi-year deal with the C's.
Among the five players under contract is Brandon Bass, although he may opt-out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent this summer. While Bass has said that no decision has been made, multiple league sources anticipate he will test the free agent waters in search of a multi-year deal on par with the four-year, 26 million deal that his childhood friend Glen Davis agreed to with Orlando as part of the sign-and-trade that sent Bass to Boston and Davis to the Magic prior to the start of the 2011-2012 season.
Bass signed a four-year, 16 million contract in July of 2009 that will pay him 4.25 million next season if he chooses to not opt-out and become a free agent.
Regardless, the need for size is definitely there for the Celtics who were among the NBA's worst rebounding teams. Only the woeful Charlotte Bobcats were a worst rebounding team than the C's and their 39.1 rebounds per game average.
As a senior, Nicholson averaged 18.5 points per game, along with 8.4 rebounds and two blocked shots per game. In his four seasons with the Bonnies, he never shot worst than 56 percent from the field. And knowing how the Celtics love to use pick-and-rolls and pick-and-pops to free up their big men, Nicholson could be a major asset with his perimeter shooting skills. As a senior, he shot a career-best 43.4 percent from 3-point range.
Of course Boston will look into adding big men via free agency and possibly by way of a trade. But with this considered one of the more deeper drafts in recent years, adding a big man like Nicholson late in the first round might prove too tempting for the C's to pass on.