Are the Celtics okay with Luke Kornet as their backup center?

The Celts knew what they had in Daniel Theis.

That praise may be lukewarm toward the veteran big man – and as much as his return to Boston has advanced through his NBA Finals seat – Theis has built so many relationships with core members of the Celtics over the course of nearly five seasons that his presence has given him some comfort behind Alhorford. and Robert Williams III. It wouldn’t be amazing if he ended up with the team again before his career was over.

However, Theis’ $8.7 million salary has become a necessary component of Malcolm Brogdon’s trade, leaving the Celtics without a reserve position that scored significant time for serving the NBA in the green. There is likely to be a glaring gap in the roster now filled with stars that it would be disappointing to see the cost of a team with legitimate aspirations for the championship.

There are several options to fill, but Boston has moved slowly in filling out the last three list points as they search for that reliability and convenience, some of which they see already on the list. The expiration of the $17.1 million trade exemption period closed one avenue to address it.

Horford and Williams staggered third in the five minutes last season and spelled out their respective minutes. The desire to reduce Horford’s workload and persistent concerns about an injury to Williams III made Theis’ presence all the more important. The burden Horford endured when Williams III tore his meniscus and the long post-season run that followed created an even greater burden on Horford’s rest this season. As it stands, it could be hard to underestimate him if Williams III is injured. With Danilo Gallinari and Grant Williams focused on providing Horford insurance at 4, only Luke Kornet projects to feature exclusively at the center.

Brad Stevens and Amy Odoka have confirmed the Celtics’ intent to bring another big man into the fold during the Summer League. It’s unclear if Mfiondo Kapengel is significant after he signed a two-way contract last week.

Stevens and Udoka praised Kornet’s abilities, while previewing smaller squads and the possibility of a larger Gallinari winger spending some time indoors as well. Grant has played center stage as a rising player and constantly senior goalkeeper, so there is a possibility that the Celtics could fill in for Theis’ loss creatively. It seems increasingly likely that this will be the route they will take the free agency, but there are still options on the market.

“We will continue to look at what adds to our team,” Stevens said. Celtics advance this month. “I think in the end, even though we’ve started big for most of the last year with Al and Robb, we often play one of them. I think, as I said earlier, we’re better prepared to play ‘smaller’ than we were just because of the size (Brogdon and Gallinari). Sitting next to us I got a lot of different options in there We’re really at a high level with Luke, we’ve been really at a high level with Luke, we thought he had a great season in the G-League and we think he could step right in and be a pass player and manager For a ball, an engine, a check, a cylinder when needed… We really believe in Luke, not only as depth, to clearly fill the roster, but also be willing to help us out and help us win. I think at that point where he can do that. We’re still looking, and we’re still adding a body At least one in what we call position five nowadays.”

Dwight Howard, DeMarcus Cousins, Montrezel Harrell, LaMarcus Aldridge and Tristan Thompson top the remaining spots available for signing. It’s a pretty uninspiring, low-key aging group that didn’t help their teams significantly a year ago.

Its availability also confirms the low demand for depth centers. Some teams moved towards small ball later in the matches and used the increasingly diverse talent pool in the league to play multiple positions. Think of the Cavaliers – who started with three center-sized players and still find cheap backup in Robin Lopez, or Warriors of Draymond Green and Kevon Looney.

But the timing made Boston particularly vulnerable, as they traded Theiss after a flurry of free signings with agencies like Lopez or Andre Drummond. Traditional Backup 5 such as Theis, who himself could play all four more efficiently than the above players, brought a narrow set of skills that became less realistic as the playoffs progressed. Drummond was knocked out in the last first round of the season.

What the Celtics need, except for emergencies, is cannibals. Someone who, along with an increasingly interchangeable spin, can maintain Boston’s defensive standing and provide a solid 10-15 minutes through the middle parts of regular season games.

This would require more minutes, stability from Williams III and generally consistent availability from Horford. That’s a gamble, but one that has reduced Boston’s ability to play two or even three guards alongside Jaylen Brown and Jason Tatum, as long as one position is available. If Williams III manages to score more than 35 minutes, that’s part of Odoka’s focus on indoor growth, along with keepers and strikers while Horford is seated, that leaves little difference on the inside.

Kornet wouldn’t elicit much confidence compared to Williams III, Horford, or even the big middle man who started. He just needs to compare it with Thess, who wasn’t at his best, averaging 7.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and 0.7 pieces per game on a 59.8% shootout (10/28 3PT) last season in Boston. Kornet scored 4.4 PPG, 2.9 RPG and 1.4 BPG in shooting by 47.3% in the Celtics period of 2021, while averaging 14 minutes in his instant appearance. He made strides in ten Maine posts this year, shooting 50.6% from the field, 31.4% from three with 11.9 PPG, 7.6 PPG, 3.9 APG and 2.6 BPG. This production should translate into respectable backup production if Boston’s position declines in the short term.

“We talked about another big addition,” Odoka said in the Summer League. “With the nights when Al is a little bit older he might take a night’s rest or Rob, he might have another potential start. We obviously have Luke Kornet, who’s slept all season too, some of the guys I’ve seen.”

Kornet and even Kabengele can step into the backup role once in a while, not playing at all in the post-season. These regularly received DNP-CDs. Given the Celtics’ unconventional starting line-up, which Udoka has hinted will likely remain the same, Kornet’s role could be dispensed with, especially as Boston have created one of the league’s most interchangeable squads. It’s part of the league’s evolution out of position, Stevens noted.

Size matters if the label Center Not though. While Grant could move into the middle and Gallinari might be able to play some drop defense on the inside at 6’10”, neither of them provide ample experience for being Larger A man on the ground, guarding the interior, bounces at a high rate or keeps competitors away from the glass. The features you are still looking for from hubs.

basketball reference Gallinari is credited with playing 36% of his 2021 minutes in position, then 24% in 2022 having never played a position before. Grant has played 6% of his indoor time as a rookie, 7% in 2021 and then 3% this year, moving to nearly an exclusive 4 minutes under Odoka. Gallinary’s indoor role coincided with Atlanta’s porous defenses, averaging 4.4 RPGs and 0.2 barrels of bullets over the past two years, while allowing 48.8% of opponents to fire in 2022. It’s a roving interior bruise.

“My position will support the number 4,” said Galinari, “but whatever must be done, I will do.” CLNS media A- Podcast List. “I can play in different positions, I did not play 5 times, but if something needs to be played, I will play. No problem. All that needs to be done.”

Versatile edge protection also contributed to the system that made Boston the best defense in the league. Horford thrived on a drop plan while Williams’ third roaming away from weak surrounding threats and away from Big Man’s missions proved to be a frontier revolutionary. Udoka’s instincts tend toward playing with size, and while Kornet emulates some of these traits defensively, he’ll need to pick-and-pop and smash glass to affect the attack.

If there’s an emergency where the Celtics lose several big guys, they may need to take a pilot on a free agent or take advantage of their $5.9 million or $6.9 million trade exceptions – which expire near the trade deadline. Kim Birch, Jackson Hayes, PJ Washington, Gavel McGee, Joja Petadze and Boban Marjanovic are some of the names that fit in with the smaller TPE and could become available later if conditions worsen.

This is probably the Celtics’ bet – don’t force a listing that isn’t necessary now, trust the depth and versatility of the listing to see those minutes and buy later at a lower cost. They can add up to six other players until the end of the training camp. Kornet’s new contract is guaranteed at $300,000 on August 15, with greater guarantees starting on opening night.

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