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The Boston Celtics have emerged as the front runners to land three-time All-Star Kemba Walker, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The reports surface amidst popular belief that the Boston Celtics previous point guard, Kyrie Irving plans on skipping town once free agency begins Sunday, June 30. Many executives believe Irving will be headed to the Brooklyn Nets.

Al Horford is also believed to be leaving the Boston Celtics, if both Irving and Horford leave the Celtics will then have roughly $14 million in free cap space. The Celtics are also expected to release the cap hold on Marcus Marris, which will free up another $10 million, bringing their total to about $24 million. At that point, the Celtics will have two possible routes.

They could then renounce the rights to Terry Rozier, freeing up roughly $9 million, which would bring them to just shy of $34 million. Or they could re-sign Terry Rozier, have him be the point guard and use the remaining roughly $20 million to fill out the roster with shooters and depth.

While Terry Rozier showed a lot of promise in the 2018 playoffs, he struggled mightily, as did most Celtics last year. Those struggles would provide serious questions about his ability to serve as the starting point guard on a championship contending team.

Also, following their 4-1 series loss to the Milwaukee Bucks in May, Rozier voiced displeasure with his situation in Boston. Granted, that could be because of Kyrie, who would presumably be gone, but nonetheless, you don’t want a guy around who doesn’t want to be around.

Should they so desire to keep Rozier in the fold, after releasing cap holds, the Celtics will have just enough to fit a Kemba Walker max slot ($32.5 million) into their current roster construction.

Making those roster moves would mean the Celtics would have a core of:

  1. Gordon Hayward
  2. Kemba Walker
  3. Jayson Tatum
  4. Jaylen Brown
  5. Marcus Smart
  6. Guerschon Yabusele
  7. Robert Williams
  8. Semi Ojeley

The C’s would able to sign one player using the Mid Level Exception that is around $9.2 million. Celtics also have the rights to four draft picks, Romeo Langford, Grant Williams, Carsen Edwards, and Tremont Waters.

The biggest question mark on that roster as currently constructed will be, what will you get from Gordon Hayward, everyone remembers that nasty injury he suffered to start the 2017-18 season. Hayward made his comeback this past year, but was certainly not the Hayward the Celtics signed to a four year, $128 million dollar deal in July of 2017.

Gordon did pick things up a bit in the second half of the season, but that was from a bench role, as he started just 18 games in the 2018-19 season.

Gordon’s averages in 2018-19 were way down from his all-star form in 2016-17,

PPG
 REB%
  FG%
3 point%
2016-17
   21.9
   5.4
   47.1%
   39.9%
2018-19
   11.5
   4.5
   46.6%
   33.3%

 

As you can see, the numbers were not very inspiring for Gordon. In the event that they sign Walker to a max, the Celtics will have about half of their cap tied through the end of the 2021 season. However, soon as Hayward comes off the books, star forward Jayson Tatum will be due for his max deal, and following this season, Jaylen Brown’s contract will be up, and the 6’7″ forward from Cal.

So while having two max players usually means good things for your roster, it could really hamper the Celtics short-term future if Gordon Hayward is unable to produce at a max contract level on the court.

The Boston Celtics Are Favorites to Land Kemba Walker. But Does It Make Sense?  was originally published on cassiuslife.com

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