Bradley's an asset, not a liability, to the Celtics

Bradley's an asset, not a liability, to the Celtics
July 15, 2014, 5:45 pm
Share This Post

It's been almost two weeks since the Celtics and Avery Bradley agreed to a four-year, $32 million deal.

Have we all calmed down yet? Are we going to make it? I'm looking at you, Gary Tanguay!

Relax. Life is good.

Tanguay beat the drum on how bad a deal this was for the Celtics. I noticed some C's fans equally as skeptical.

That's what we do here in Boston. We hate everything. Rick Pitino was right about one thing, anyways: The negativity in this town sucks.

Negativity is one thing. Being wrong is another.

I admit, $8 million a year is nothing to brush off. But this ain't your father's $8 million. Can we stop acting like it's this crippling albatross of a contract that halts Boston's rebuilding process for the next four years?

Because it's not. In fact, if anything it's part of the rebuilding process.

The Celtics didn't wait around for another team to swoop in with an offer sheet. By signing Bradley before this happened, it allows them to trade him this year if a bigger deal comes along. Had Bradley signed an offer sheet with another team for, say, $7.5 million, Boston would have matched but not have been able to trade Bradley for a year. Just a minor detail, but who knows; maybe it played a small part in the decision. At the time, Kevin Love was still an option (and still is, technically).

Before I go on, I'll address the major -- justified -- complaint of the masses: Bradley can't stay on the court.

Yes, Bradley's been on the shelf for way too much of his Celtics career (although he did play all but two games of the 2011-12 lockout-shortended season). But is he coming off a torn ACL? Does he have bad knees? Are his previous injuries considered "chronic"? Is he a head case? A loose cannon? A bad apple? A shot-chucker who doesn't do anything else? Is he on the wrong side of 30?

I think all of those answers are "no". And here's a big "yes": Yes, he plays hard on defense. In fact, he probably misses a handful of games missed per season because of the defensive effort he puts in.

I'll concede another "no": No, he's not a superstar. He's not even an All-Star right now.

But you want another "no"? No, he's not old. He's still a kid. Bradley is just 23 years old. Twenty-three! By the time this deal expires, he'll be entering the prime of his career. Bradley's trending in the right direction, and is still younger than most, if not all, players entering the fifth year of their careers.

And, by the way, can we take a look around the NBA for a second?

Who in their right mind thinks the Celtics could have gotten Bradley for $6 million a year? And who really thinks they should have held firm on that and let him walk? If that's the case, don't expect to ever land -- or keep -- a halfway decent player.

Simply letting him walk because of a few million dollars over four years in a league that sees the salary cap grow every year? Come on! This season the cap will rise 7.5 percent. The price of gas is going up, folks, and so is the price of an NBA free agent.

Boston is not a small market, but in NBA terms it almost has to act like a small-market team, especially right now. For many reasons, Boston -- mainly, because the team isn't ready to contend for a championship -- is not currently a destination for high-grade free agents. It has to hold onto the talent that it's grown.

It's why, on a larger scale, Charlotte offered Gordon Hayward the max of $63 million, and why Utah matched. Is that a steep price? Yeah. But no other stars are heading to Utah (or Charlotte for that matter). Same with Boston -- currently, anyways -- to an extent.

And there was Tanguay again last Wednesday raining on Celtics fans' parade by saying the Celtics still don't have enough assets to land Kevin Love even after the trade with the Cavs. (Boston acquired Tyler Zeller and a first-round pick.)

He's right.

But he's the same guy who wanted to let an asset walk the week before. Yes, Bradley -- while carrying a heftier contract now -- is an asset, whether it's this year or the next, or the one after that.

That's why this deal had to happen. Boston had to keep Bradley. He's an asset. Maybe it cost, what, $4 million extra over four years? Let's stop acting like that's going to sentence the Celtics to cap jail.

Tanguay may see Bradley as a "role player on a contending team," but I see more. Not now, maybe, but in the future.

And that future will be on the Celtics, unless . . . hey, anything can happen. Danny Ainge has allowed for that.