By now, we all know the deal. The Boston Celtics are mostly cash-strapped when it comes to free agency. Yet, what they do have at their disposal is a remaining $11 million on their original $28.5 million Gordon Hayward traded player exception. Aside from potentially dangling Marcus Smart on the trade market, the TPE looks to be Boston’s best bet of adding a quality piece to the roster this summer.
While Zion Williamson was recently floated as a long-shot possibility, more than likely the Celtics will not absorb a superstar talent with the $11 million exception. Instead, names such as Larry Nance Jr. and Kyle Anderson remain far more practical targets.
Another name that could (somewhat) fall into that latter category — according to Boston Sports Journal’s John Karalis — is Denver Nuggets big man JaMychal Green.
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Green Floated as TPE Candidate & Future Celtics Starter
“I’m fudging the realistic… JaMychal Green,” Karalis told NBC Sports Boston’s Chris Forsberg on the Celtics Talk Podcast. “Only because I think he would be in the Jerami Grant kind of ‘I want a big role then what I’m getting in Denver.’”
Similar to Green, Grant had a contract decision to make with the Nuggets this past offseason. The versatile forward was offered a three-year, $60 million deal to remain in Denver one season after the team acquired him for a first-round pick. Instead, Grant opted to join the Detroit Pistons in a sign-and-trade for the exact same pay but a more significant role.
We’re pretty positive the 31-year-old Green won’t be adding 10-plus points to his scoring average the same way Grant did following his exit from Denver — nor should we expect him to. With that said, like Grant, he’d likely follow suit in terms of receiving an enlarged role elsewhere. Not to mention his pay could easily check-in at nearly a quarter of Grant’s average salary.
“He’s not going to get more than $7-$8 million. That’s kind of the feeling that I get. So he could be looking for a better opportunity,” Karalis noted. “Or he could tell Denver ‘hey look, here’s what I’m doing, I’m leaving. But I’m going to pick up my player option and you’re going to trade me to Boston and they’re going to give you a second-round pick. And you’re not going to lose me for nothing. So you’re going to get something for me versus nothing for me because I’m leaving no matter what.’ So that’s my pitch if he’s looking for a starting role.”
Outlook on Green
Green has until July 26th to pick his approximately $7.6 million player option or become a free agent. As highlighted by ESPN’s Bobby Marks, pay likely won’t waver much regardless of Green’s decision.
“Last offseason he declined a $5 million option with the Clippers and received a $2.1 million pay increase when signing with Denver,” Marks said. “According to ProFitX, a Green contract for 2021-22 is comparable to his salary on the option for next season.”
While handing Green a starting role may be a bit premature in our eyes, the Alabama product is certainly worthy of quality minutes in a frontcourt rotation. In 58 games with the Nuggets this past season, the 6-foot-8-inch Green shot nearly 40% from beyond the arc and has now knocked down at least 38.7% of his 3-point attempts since 2018. His rebounding took a bit of a dip this year, but he did average 7.0 boards per game over the prior four seasons combined.
He may not be the most flashy addition, and he’s surely not the third musketeer in Boston’s future Big Three alongside Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Yet, he’s a viable stretch big who the Celtics could theoretically afford.
“Nuggets have a hefty amount of money committed, especially after adding Aaron Gordon at last year’s deadline. If Green triggers his player option, Celtics could absorb the 31-year-old forward,” wrote Forsberg.