Saturday, June 25, 2022

Celtics urged to attack Pacer’s wing in free agency

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The Boston Celtics’ need for an extra wing is well documented, especially given the incredibly high minutes from Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown who played throughout the postseason.

As such, we should expect Brad Stevens and the Celtics front office to explore multiple avenues once the free agency streak begins as they look to add an extra wing to the rotation.

According to Spotrac’s Keith Smith, Indiana Pacers’ TJ Warren could be a potential candidate should he be willing to accept the mid-level taxpayer exemption to play for a competing team.

Warren’s mix of perimeter scoring and rim pressure would be an ideal complement to Boston’s bank rotation, although it’s very likely he’ll receive bigger offers from elsewhere during the free agency streak.

One reason Warren could be available at a reduced price is that his recent injury history is a concern. The North Carolina native has appeared in just four NBA games over the past two seasons and missed the entire 2021-22 NBA season while recovering from a litany of left foot injuries.

With so much missed time, it’s hard to imagine Warren having a legitimate impact for most of the regular season — especially when his injury woes return once he’s back on the court. For a Celtics team that already has several players with recurring injury histories, adding one more could prove problematic, even on a short-term deal.

Of course, part of the reason Warren is a realistic target is that he’s entering next season as an unknown commodity and any team that signs him on an offer knows they’re taking a risk. Boston won’t be the only team with this idea, however, and other contenders like the Miami Heat are also likely to show interest.

When healthy, Warren is a real goalscoring talent who can go supernova at times and is a constant threat from both the bench and the starting XI.

For his career, the 6-foot-1 wing averages 15.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists while shooting 35.7% from depth and 50.7% from the field. Sure, Warren is more of a starter than a banker, but if he comes off the jaw, he could rediscover his best form before hitting the free-agent market again in 2023 and trying to secure the bag.

Looking at Warren’s scoring profile, his addition makes even more sense. During his most recent health season in 2019-20, he shot 73% from around the rim, 47% from floaters, 48% from long middle distance, 42% from the third corner and 40% from anywhere else on the rim – proving he can is a real three-level scoring talent.

Given Warren’s scoring chances, it makes sense to think the Celtics will pick up the phone and try to convince him to accept a “probation year” at a competing team — and if they do, Boston’s offense would be next year far more potent.

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