The Boston Celtics faced a huge test with 2019 Free Agency, and they passed with flying colors. Despite losing two All-Stars to Eastern Conference rivals, the Celtics managed to land some key replacement pieces while also preparing for the future.
Free Agency Recap for the Boston Celtics
Free Agency Changes
A free agency period that sees the loss of Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, and Marcus Morris seems dismal at best. However, the Boston Celtics were able to re-shuffle the deck to get back into potential contention in the Eastern Conference. The addition of Kemba Walker on a max contract and Enes Kanter on a mid-level exception propelled the Celtics back toward the top of the East while keeping the young core of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart intact.
Boston is coming off of a rather disappointing 2019 campaign. A less-than-stellar regular season ended with a second-round bounce in the playoffs. Chemistry and effort were the two main issues the team faced, and it seems possible at least one of those aspects could soon be fixed.
The addition of Walker is huge for Boston. Replacing an All-NBA point guard with an All-NBA point guard is no easy feat, but Danny Ainge pulled it off. Walker will provide leadership, playmaking, and scoring to a Celtics team in dire need of all three. The 29-year-old will also have the chance to play alongside the young duo of Tatum and Brown as they continue their development.
Looking Ahead for the Boston Celtics
Ideally, Tatum and Brown will blossom into star-caliber players, allowing Walker to slowly recede into a pass-first point guard. In the meantime, Walker can shoulder more of the offensive load while still in his prime.
Prior to last season, the Celtics thrived on unselfish play and ball movement. When Irving and Gordon Hayward went down in 2018, a band of role players had to pick up the pieces and make it work. Then, when the two All-Stars came back, there seemed to be a logjam of differing styles and motives. Some players wanted to be stars while others reluctantly took back-seat roles. The dynamics that made the Celtics great went by the wayside.
Now, the Celtics of old could return. Walker — though not as talented as Irving — may be the best fit at point guard yet in Brad Stevens’ system. Kanter will have huge shoes to fill at Center but will also fit well in the rotation, providing scoring and rebounding for a very small team.
With the media focused on the team-ups for Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, and Brooklyn Nets, Boston has become a major sleeper for the upcoming season. A core of Walker, Tatum, Brown, Smart, Hayward, and Kanter will be a force to be reckoned with for the foreseeable future. The Celtics have leadership, youth, talent, scoring, defense, rebounding, and coaching.
In the midst of the biggest test of his career, Ainge managed a solid free agency period, despite all odds. The Boston Celtics aren’t going anywhere.
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