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Filling The Celtics Final Roster Spots

Jayson Tatum and Blake Griffin of the Boston Celtics
Jim Davis/ Boston Globe

A championship-caliber team is usually not too worried about who the 13th, 14th, and 15th men are on their roster. It’s not because those players aren’t necessary, they…are. Conventional wisdom, though, tells us that if the end of the rotation guys are going to make or break title hopes, then the team has other issues to worry about. 


So why are those end-of-bench players important? Well, because not every player contributes to winning by being on the court. Good teammates and “locker-room guys” are wanted because they keep things light and ensure the team stays accountable. If last season was any indication, the “culture” manufactured on teams like the Miami Heat carries importance. Not every team will approach their final signings the same way. Some organizations will give contracts to young players, ex-G League-ers, and overseas guys. Others will go with a more veteran-oriented approach. 



One team that could go either way is the Boston Celtics. In recent seasons the Celtics have oscillated between adding veterans to the end of their bench and bringing in relatively inexperienced young players who have shown flashes. Equipped with two open roster spots and a taxpayer mid-level exception worth up to $5 million gives the Celtics front office room to explore options. 


Here are some of the candidates they could be looking to target: 


Crowd Pleasers


Ish Smith 

Anybody who might have caught Ish Smith playing against the Celtics over the last decade can attest to his production. Smith has rightfully earned the moniker of “Celtics Killer.” In 24 games against the Celtics, Smith has averaged 9.8 points per game on 49% shooting via data from StatHead. More importantly, Smith was a great locker-room presence as a member of the Denver Nuggets, eventually earning the honor of being an NBA champion. 


T.J. Warren 

The riskiest choice the Celtics front office could make would be signing Warren. By only appearing in 46 games since the start of the 2020 season, the North Carolina State University product could not capitalize off an impressive showing in the “bubble.” Warren could, however, provide a lot of what the Celtics were hoping to get out of Danilo Gallinari in lineups last season. At 6 foot 8 inches, Warren helps with experience and depth at the forward position. His three-point shooting and defense are question marks as he enters the second half of his career. That, and injury history, are the red flags holding the Celtics back. 


Jaylen Nowell

Nowell is a solid rim finisher for a guard, and his unique scoring skillset would give Boston another ball handler who can drive to the basket. Parts of Nowell’s game seem like they would be counter to what the Celtics want. For example, Nowell is a below-average three-point shooter, and his on-ball defense can be flakey. But as an off-ball defender, Nowell gets into passing lanes frequently. At only 24 years old, there are signs that if he could combine his strides offensively this past year (10.8 points per game) with a competitive defensive effort, then a flier on Nowell makes sense for a team like the Celtics.


Familiar Faces


Javonte Green

Green would fill that energy role that the Celtics need to replace after Marcus Smart was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies. Green’s advantage over other free agents is that he has played with the Celtics before. In a season and a half with the Celtics from 2019-2021, Green appeared in 73 games and averaged 3.7 points per game. Since his time in Beantown, Green has been on the  Bulls along with Jones. The 30-year-old guard has developed into a better three-point shooter during his time with the Bulls (hitting 37% last year). Those numbers undoubtedly add to his value as a potential addition. 


Blake Griffin

The six-time All-Star selection is far removed from his days of jumping over Kias. However, Griffin served a purpose last season for the Celtics that was somewhat overlooked. Besides Al Horford (and Gallinari, who was injured), Griffin was their veteran presence last year. He adopted a sort of “big brother” role to guys like Jayson Tatum, which could carry over to this season. Griffin also showed a knack for hustling for loose balls, getting under other teams’ skin, and occasionally rising up for a dunk. Griffin is currently a cap hold for the Celtics at just over $2 million. The indications are that Griffin is a good bet to return to the Celtics.


Celtics Ceiling Raisers


Svi Mykhailiuk

Mykhailiuk earns the distinction of being already linked to the Celtics. Reportedly the former University of Kansas Jayhawk already received a contract offer from Boston last week. Mykhailiuk would provide the Celtics with another wing presence that can shoot well from the outside (40% last season). While not seen as much of a defender, his size at 6 foot 7 inches and 205 pounds will at least allow him to survive minutes guarding other wings. Lastly, as a confident shooter, Mykhailiuk could be Sam Hauser insurance if he regresses.


Terence Davis 

Ultimately Davis might be too expensive for the Celtics to sign. Although the more the offseason goes on and roster spots become scarce, players like Davis might be forced to take a pay cut. The Celtics might be attractive to Davis for two reasons; first, they are legitimate title contenders and are poised to be back in the playoffs. Secondly, Davis would be the most likely out of the players listed to get playing time. In scenarios where Malcolm Brogdon is still recovering from his injury, and youngsters like Jordan Walsh and Payton Pritchard are not ready, Davis could step in and be a rotational guard for the Celtics. 


The Verdict

As it stands, the Celtics thirteen roster sports are broken down like this six forwards, four guards, and three centers. There is some overlap at positions, like at the center, where Porzingis will get a share of minutes along with Horford and Rob Williams. But where additions are needed is at the guard. At the very least, the Celtics should bring in one more guard to balance the roster. The best fit would be either Ish Smith or Terence Davis. 


Another big man wouldn’t hurt, but in all seriousness, the last signing will see minimal playing. So their final spot should be a culture signing. They should bring back Griffin, who is appreciated by Celtics fans and will be a cheap veteran minimum contract. 



Matt Strout is a contributor to Back Sports Page. Matt studied Journalism and Sociology at Temple University for four years and graduated in May of 2022. While there, Matt wrote for multiple student and professional publications covering sports and the City of Philadelphia. Matt is originally from Maine and now resides in California. He has written content primarily for the NBA and PGA Tour. You can catch Matt as a guest on the “Cut The Nets” podcast featured on the Back Sports Page network. When Matt is not writing, he enjoys cooking and playing golf. Follow Matt’s social media on Twitter @TheRealStrout or Instagram @matt_strout96 


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