After reaching the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010, the Boston Celtics enhanced their roster significantly this offseason. Recognizing a need for more depth, the Celtics signed Danilo Gallinari to a two-year, $13.3 million contract. Gallinari gives Boston a formidable scorer off the bench, something it lacked in its deep playoff run.
The signing of Gallinari was a precursor to the Celtics’ biggest move of the offseason. In a stunning trade with the Indiana Pacers, the Celtics acquired the 2017 NBA Rookie of the Year, Malcolm Brogdon, in exchange for a 2023 first-round draft pick, Aaron Nesmith, Daniel Theis, Nik Stauskas, Malik Fitts, and Juwan Morgan. Brogdon will serve as the team’s sixth man and will instantly become one of the best bench players in the NBA.
For the Celtics, it was a majorly successful offseason. Let’s grade their entire 2022 offseason, beginning with free agency.
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Celtics 2022 NBA Offseason Grades
Free agency: Signed Danilo Gallinari, re-signed Luke Kornet and Sam Hauser
The Celtics signed Danilo Gallinari following the 33-year-old’s release from the San Antonio Spurs, who traded for him in a blockbuster move that sent Dejounte Murray to the Atlanta Hawks. Gallinari played the past two seasons with the Hawks in a reserve role. He is more than happy to come off the bench and add a scoring jolt.
Gallinari turns 34 in August and the 14-year veteran is on the downhill of his career. However, he is a proven bucket-getter who plays both forward positions and is a 38.2% career three-point shooter. Gallinari made it clear that he joined the Eastern Conference champion Celtics with the sole goal to win an NBA title.
Danilo Gallinari says that winning a championship is "a constant, constant thought that I have every day."
He adds that after joining the Celtics, "It’s that time for me."
— Taylor Snow (@taylorcsnow) July 12, 2022
Gallinari averaged 11.7 points and 4.7 rebounds per contest last season. Across 66 games played, he shot 43.4% from the field, 38.1% from 3-point territory and hit 90.4% of his free throws—all marks that are on par with his career shooting splits. Gallinari’s subpar defense is well-documented, but the Celtics are flushed with plenty of elite defenders. The Celtics, the top-rated defense in 2021-22, were willing to sacrifice some defense in favor of an offensive force.
In less notable moves, the Celtics re-signed big man Luke Kornet and wing Sam Hauser. Neither played much last season, but President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens believes the 27-year-old Kornet could make an impact next season.
Brad Stevens said the Celtics are “really high” on Luke Kornet and think he can step right into minutes and “help us win” when necessary. Said they will still likely add another center.
— Jay King (@ByJayKing) July 12, 2022
Kornet’s deal is for two years, $4.5 million—with only the first season fully guaranteed. As Stevens alluded to, the Celtics will likely add another big man in free agency. Centers such as Dwight Howard, Greg Monroe and Ed Davis are free agents who could be on the Celtics’ radar and likely will command only the veteran’s minimum.
Despite being cap-strapped, the Celtics filled a major need in free agency by signing Gallinari, a strong scorer off the bench. For that, the Celtics earn a solid grade.
Draft: JD Davison selected in 2nd round (53rd overall)
Boston had only one draft pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. The Celtics used their lone selection, the 53rd overall pick, on JD Davison, a point guard from the University of Alabama.
Davison shined in the NBA’s Summer League. In five summer league contests, he produced per-game marks of 13 points, a Summer League-leading 8.2 assists, 4.8 rebounds, 1.2 blocked shots and 1.2 steals in 30.3 minutes.
Distributing at an elite level, Davison set a Summer League record and placed himself among the best performers in terms of assists.
JD Davison set a Celtics Summer League record with 41 assists. His 8.2 assists per game rank 3rd all-time league-wide behind Lonzo Ball (9.3) and Payton Pritchard (8.5). pic.twitter.com/R2AZWTCGj8
— Taylor Snow (@taylorcsnow) July 17, 2022
The success of a player in the Summer League does not necessarily translate to success in the NBA. Still, it is worth noting when a second-round pick dominates at this level. Davison could end up as one of the steals of the NBA Draft. It’d be unfair to give the Celtics a grade with their only draft pick before Davison even plays a game, but so far so good.
Grade: To Be Determined
Trade: Malcolm Brogdon acquired in blockbuster move
The Celtics managed to land combo guard Malcolm Brogdon in a trade with the Indiana Pacers. They snatched Brogdon without giving up any significant assets. None of the five players the Celtics dealt—Aaron Nesmith, Daniel Theis Nik Stauskas, Malik Fitts, and Juwan Morgan—played significant minutes when the team was at full strength last season. Furthermore, the Celtics only forked over one draft pick, their own 2023 first-round selection—which figures to be a late-round pick.
Brogdon averaged a Pacers-high 19.1 points last season, to go along with 5.9 assists and 5.1 rebounds. He will provide a steady presence in the backcourt for a team that needed ball-handling help. The Celtics turned the ball over at an alarming rate during their NBA Finals defeat to the Golden State Warriors. Brogdon is known for taking care of the basketball:
Celtics acquire Malcolm Brogdon, 1 of 20 active players with 15 PPG and an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.0 or better in their careers. pic.twitter.com/AA7qKjy8Z9
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 1, 2022
The Celtics made it clear that Brogdon will come off the bench as the team’s unofficial sixth man, a role the 29-year-old is willing to embrace. Brogdon is a lights-out shooter. Brogdon is one of nine players in NBA history to record a 50-40-90 season (50+ percent from the field, 40+ percent on 3’s, and 90+ percent on free throws), having accomplished the feat in 2018-19.
Last three players to record a 50/40/90% season (min. 25 MPG):
— Kyrie Irving
— Malcolm Brogdon
— Steph Curry pic.twitter.com/fcK6xIGMlV
— StatMuse (@statmuse) July 1, 2022
Brogdon’s shooting splits from the field could improve next year, given that the opposing defenses will focus its attention on Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Brogdon figures to have plenty of open looks and will likely make the opponent pay. An ideal fit in Boston, this trade is a home run for the Celtics.
Overall offseason review
The Celtics had arguably the best starting lineup in the NBA last season with Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford, and Robert Williams. Their starting five will remain intact for 2022-23. Following the offseason additions of Danilo Gallinari and Malcolm Brogdon, the Celtics have as good of a bench—one that also features Derrick White and Grant Williams—as any team in the league. It comes as no surprise, then, that the Celtics are the odds-on favorite to win the 2023 NBA championship.