The Boston Celtics have traded away Avery Bradley and a 2nd round pick to the Detroit Pistons for Marcus Morris. This move was made by Danny Ainge to clear caps space in order to officially sign Gordon Hayward to a max contract and make him a Celtic.
This is a deal that makes sense for the team, but is still tough to see. As a Celtics fan, I watched Bradley develop over the years and become a great basketball player. He was drafted 19th overall in 2010 by the Celtics for his defensive prowess, but his offensive game was always a question mark. He made great strides over the past couple of seasons and you could really see how much work and effort he put into his offense, while still playing lock down defense.
Bradley is coming off a career-best season for Boston, as he averaged 16.3 PPG, 6.1 RPG and 2.2 APG. He also should’ve been named to his 3rd all-defensive team, but voters like Chris Broussard who don’t have much knowledge leave him off “because Devin Booker put up 70 on him.” Well actually, Bradley did not even play that game and let’s not forget the fact that Suns were intentionally fouling the Celtics in the 4th quarter down double digits so Booker could continue scoring. I’m not trying to take anything away from Booker though as 70 points is unreal, but Bradley wouldn’t have let him do that if he was playing.
Now let’s get to Morris. Marcus was drafted with the 14th overall pick in 2011. He is a 6’9″ in between forward coming off a season where he averaged 14 PPG, 4.6 RPG and 2 APG. Morris has the size to play a power forward position, but his game translates to more of a true small forward (which is apparently the position the Celtics love). Morris is a wing player who can stretch the floor with his shooting ability. What sticks out to me though is his rebounding numbers, or lack-thereof. A career average of 4.2 RPG is not something you like to see from someone as big as Morris. I don’t know if it’s an effort thing or if it’s just because he likes to spend more time around the perimeter, maybe even both, but rebounding will be crucial for the Celtics with the current small-ball roster they employ.
The deal had to happen, however. Bradley will be a free agent after next season and will likely rack up a huge contract in free agency that the Celtics probably wouldn’t have offered him. This is also a good deal for the Celtics because with the contract Bradley is currently on, it’s hard to find a good player who is on an even favorable deal, which they needed in order to free cap space for Hayward.
The addition of Marcus Morris now leaves the Celtics with 5 small forwards on their roster who are all capable of starting on NBA rosters. They have Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Jae Crowder and now Marcus Morris. Crowder’s name has been thrown around in trade rumors recently but with Bradley departing, they’ll most likely hang onto Crowder as he’s on a team-friendly contract.
Brad Stevens recently came out and noted that he doesn’t have 5 positions like a traditional NBA team would. “It may be as simple as 3 positions now, where you’re either a ball-handler, a wing or a big,” Stevens’ claimed. With the 5 small forwards the Celtics have, they all have capability to play other positions on the offensive end, but can they guard multiple positions on defense? The Celtics were a great perimeter defensive team last year, but down low they struggled with defense and rebounding. Horford guarding opposing centers is not ideal, but with the makeup of this team he’s going to have to. The addition of Morris is good as far as finding a solid NBA starter to replace Bradley, but the position of small forward is now stacked on the Celtics and I wonder how they will manage the playing time of these players and how the lineups will shake out. Or maybe Ainge intends on trading for someone like Marc Gasol, whose name has been in Celtics rumors lately. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Back to Bradley leaving, he was the longest tenured Celtics player and it was great watching him grow up in Boston and continue to develop his game every season he was in the league. He turned himself into a player that opposing ball-handlers hated for his defensive ability and the fact that he developed a smooth jump shot was just icing on the cake. Bradley will be missed in Boston and I wish him the best for the remainder of his career.