September 24, 2022

Even with multiple ways to add talent this offseason, the list of potential candidates the Boston Celtics can attract with either the mid-tier taxpayer exception or their most voluminous traded player exception is, well, disappointing.

Maybe there will be an opportunity to splurge on an attacking-minded wing (think Kevin Huerter or Luke Kennard). We’re not sure this meets Boston’s greatest need and likely comes at a high cost in terms of salary and project assets. Maybe the team can add wing depth, or a big third string except for the mid level, but there aren’t many options you can get at 6.4 million dollars that are decidedly better than what Boston already has in-house.

That’s why we keep dreaming of ways to bring Kyle Anderson to Boston. The free forward feels like he might just be the missing piece in Boston. And he could be Al Horford’s long-term succession plan.

Alas, unless Dennis Schroder dries up in the market, it’s hard to see Anderson taking a pay cut to play in Boston.

This may be where Ime Udoka can help. Udoka was an assistant at San Antonio when Anderson was drafted with the 30th overall pick in 2014. Udoka – along with the core of the Celtics team – could make a strong case for using Anderson in an important role in goal to limit wear. and tear apart Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and especially 36-year-old Horford.

Anderson, 28, ticks all the boxes for Boston: he has size (6-9), is content to play a reserve role (58 of his 69 appearances last year came off the bench), defends at a high level , and is an excellent ball handler/playmaker. Even with his slower ways, he would solve much of what ailed the Celtics in transition last season.

We thought of ways to land Anderson at something north of the ratepayer MLE. The Celtics could sign him at full mid-level value — a four-year deal worth $45 million with a starting salary of $10.5 million — but Boston would be capped at the tax apron (156, $9 million) for the entirety of the season, and even struggled to fill a roster even though they paid to dump their salary.

Then we thought of a sign and trade with Memphis where the Grizzlies would pick up Daniel Theis ($8.7 million) and Aaron Nesmith ($3.8 million), along with a first-round pick and money, to deliver Anderson on the same full- MLE Agreement. The Celtics could bring him back into TPE Fournier and generate a new TPE Theis. But we ran our pie script in the past sky our fellow cap guru Ryan Bernardoni and the Celtics don’t appear to have enough room under the hard cap after bonuses and minimum charges to fill a 14-player roster.

Sigh.

Celtics offseason: Key dates for Brown’s extension, other roster deadlines

Maybe the Celtics can target a power forward on a rookie deal that would be more easily equated to a TPE, and just pay a higher cost in asset drafts to nab a backup Horford (our pal Wayne Spooney suggested PJ Washington on a recent Celtics Reddit Podcast).

Perhaps the Celtics should consider using the TPE to be a facilitator when teams start negotiating. Perhaps there is a way to replenish the now sparse treasure chest (including the four paid second-round picks to essentially turn the Gordon Hayward TPE into the Evan Fournier TPE).

Or maybe the Boston brain trust has something more creative up its sleeve than we might imagine. The Celtics really only need one good batting this offseason and, if they land an impact talent that matches that core, we’d be even more optimistic about their chances of making it back to the Finals next season. .

The salary cap projection rose slightly for the NBA on Wednesday. But not enough to make our Anderson math work. What it does is add extra money to what those teams with the full mid-level taxpayers can offer. And makes it even more difficult for taxpayers to win this showdown.

Maybe that puts Boston in wait-and-see mode on Thursday when teams can (officially) start talking to free agents. But Udoka and Co.’s first call should always be to Anderson, just to let him know he’s wanted.