The Boston Celtics entered the 2022-23 NBA season with as realistic of championship dreams as anyone.
So, falling short of those expectations must feel deflating, particularly on the heels of last season’s Finals loss.
Boston had a chance to make history Monday night and become the first NBA team ever to climb out of a 3-0 hole. But the Celtics instead suffered a season-ending, Game 7 loss on their home floor.
That’s a brutal way to go out. It’s not, however, an obvious signal that major change is needed, which is just as well since brokering a blockbuster trade would probably require giving up All-Star swingman Jaylen Brown.
Assuming the Shamrocks aren’t eyeing anything that dramatic, they could invest an asset or two into adding a role player who could strengthen this rotation. The following three players might top the wish list, then.
The Celtics need to find more reinforcements for the interior, particularly if they don’t plan on bringing back restricted free agent Grant Williams.
Jericho Sims could prove a sneaky-good (and cheap) option.
The New York Knicks are loaded at center, which hasn’t allowed Sims to fully spread his wings. Still, the opportunities he’s found over his first two seasons have allowed him to flash promising potential as a low-maintenance rim-runner. He’s a career 75.8 percent shooter with per-36-minutes averages of 10.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks, per Basketball-Reference.
His game doesn’t have a ton of layers to it, but he wouldn’t need many to fill a helpful backup role behind Al Horford and Robert Williams III. And should Sims show more growth going forward—he’s only 24 years old—he could fill a more prominent role when Horford makes that proverbial trek into the sunset.
The Celtics have two of the Association’s best wings in Brown and Jayson Tatum, but they have little behind them.
Adding Cody Martin to the mix would help change that.
A knee injury effectively wiped out his 2022-23 season—he suited up all of seven times—but if he gets healthy this summer, he can build off what appeared to be a breakout campaign the season prior. He posted a slew of personal-bests in 2021-22, including 7.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.2 steals and all three layers of his 48.2/38.4/70.1 shooting slash.
Hustle and defense are probably his primary selling points, but he has shown flashes of playmaking, off-the-dribble creation and ignitable outside shooting.
It’s possible Dorian Finney-Smith will cost more than the Celtics can—or, at least, are willing to—give up in a trade. It’s also possible the Brooklyn Nets simply won’t let him go.
But if neither of those things are true—Boston might sense a big enough need to justify paying a not insignificant price, and Brooklyn might be in the market for more assets—he’d be a home-run get.
The 6’7″, 220-pounder is a tireless defender who can extinguish fiery scorers of nearly all sizes and play styles. He’s also a much better shooter than he showed this past season (33.7 percent, down from 38.9 the three seasons prior). Assuming his erratic shooting was just a one-year fluke, it could actually be a blessing in disguise, since it might lower his trade cost.
The biggest question for Boston to tackle here might be whether it has enough minutes available to justify the investment. That feels like a gamble worth taking. Much like Malcolm Brogdon, Finney-Smith might not log major minutes, but he’d be a positive presence during his floor time and, if everything broke just right, perhaps a member of this club’s closing unit.