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Here’s what it means that the Celtics are done for the summer




Celtics

Now that the Celtics’ business is done, what does their roster look like for the 2024-25 season?

Celtics center Al Horford (left) argues with an official about a jump ball call with Mavericks center Daniel Gafford during the first quarter.

In perhaps the least discouraging downside of all time, the Celtics have made themselves one of the worst Summer League destinations imaginable by filling out their entire roster with defending champions before their games in Las Vegas even began. 

When the dust settled and Xavier Tillman Sr. was inked to a two-year deal last week, the Celtics found themselves without any free two-way slots (welcome back to Drew Peterson and J.D. Davison, welcome to Anton Watson), and they have one free roster spot that they presumably will carry for a little while to maintain some modicum of flexibility. 

But generally speaking, the Celtics’ business for the 2024-25 season is done. They looked around contentedly at the faces in the locker room, got their work done quickly, and can rest easy the rest of the way this summer knowing their roster will be entirely intact.  

Here’s a closer look at what that means for each player.

Jayson Tatum: The city of Boston tends to ingratiate itself to its best players, and Tatum is no exception. Less than two years ago, fans panicked when they saw him don Lakers colors to memorialize one of Kobe Bryant’s greatest moments while saying “I used to dream of this.”

Now, Tatum is speaking openly about his desire to stay in Boston for his entire career, soothing the nerves of any fan traumatized by Kyrie Irving.

Kyrie aside, Boston is still a wonderful place for a sports star to be embraced. All it asks is that you win and that you love it back. When you do the former, the latter becomes easy. 

Where can Tatum go from here? Winning a championship is brutally hard, as the first seven years of his career proved. Already, he has to be mentioned in conversations that might make longtime Celtics fans balk. He hasn’t surpassed Larry Bird or John Havlicek (and Bill Russell is out of the question) … but has he surpassed Kevin Garnett? How far, realistically, is he from Paul Pierce?

The driving narrative of the first part of Tatum’s career was his pursuit of a title. The next portion will be his pursuit of a permanent place in Celtics history—the bitter rival of his longtime idol. 

Life’s a funny thing, sometimes. 

Jaylen Brown: Perhaps no one has done more to improve their NBA Q rating than Brown, who went from “the star who can’t dribble with his left” to “the star who can’t dribble with his left who just signed the biggest contract in NBA history” to “Eastern Conference finals MVP” to “Finals MVP” and “champion.”

Not a bad run!

Brown will enter next season in many of the same conversations as Tatum. After all, Kevin McHale is an all-time Celtics great. Havlicek played with Russell. Whichever of the Tatum/Brown combination you prefer, they are both headed for impressive spots in Celtics history before their careers are done, and they should be respectively the last players to wear “0” and “7” in Celtics history. 

Kristaps Porzingis: In some ways, Porzingis finds himself in uncharted territory: He is now an NBA champion, he is on a team that has maximized him (in part, of course, because Porzingis has accepted a new role and in doing so has maximized himself), and he secured a place in Celtics lore by returning from injury and dominating Game 1 against the Mavericks. 

In other ways, Porzingis is facing a very familiar foe. Injuries have limited him throughout his career, and they are once again the primary talking point behind his offseason. 

Can he come back healthy next year and participate in a playoff run? If so, the Celtics will be (or at least, should be) comfortably the favorites even if they don’t secure the 1-seed in a beefed up Eastern Conference. If not, they are likely still the favorites, but as the hunted team (with two crucial players participating with Team USA this summer after deep playoff runs), the questions get a little louder as Al Horford gets a little older.

Jrue Holiday: Bucks fans will tell you over and over that Holiday struggled in the postseason, but never let a Celtics fan hear a bad word about him. Holiday steadied the ship when the Celtics needed it most and provided two-way contributions that Brad Stevens could only dream of when the Bucks emerged as Damian Lillard’s destination last year.

Holiday is a two-time All-Star and has almost nothing to prove, but he has shown the level to which he can elevate a team. On the Celtics, he is the ultimate crack-filler: Someone who can defend across the board, hit 3-pointers and handle the ball. His role won’t change next year.

Of course, he isn’t the only crack-filler.

Derrick White: White—who of course is the other crack-filler—will see almost no change to his role this season either. One of the reasons the Celtics are so good is because they have two stars, as well as two guards who can do any of the things the stars might struggle to do on any given night. That shouldn’t change meaningfully this season.

Al Horford: Horford wasted no time declaring his intention to return this season, silencing the people who prefer narrative (“wouldn’t it be nice to go out as a champion?”) to production (it would be wild for the starting center of an NBA champion—who was one of the team’s top on/off stars in the postseason—to call it quits at this stage).

How much does Horford realistically have left? He has taken care of his body throughout his career, and his game lends itself to old age, but he does seem to struggle a bit with longer minutes at this stage, and Porzingis will miss a lot of time. The Celtics also may need him to deal with Joel Embiid in the playoffs, since the Sixers are now a more potent opponent. 

Horford is more than just the Team Dad – he’s a high-level contributor who still has quite a bit in the tank. How much “quite a bit” might prove to be could be an important part of this season.

Sam Hauser: We know Hauser can shoot. Can he establish himself as an above-average defender this season?

That will be one of the key questions, and for Hauser, it could be an incredibly lucrative one. He defended Luka Doncic well at times on a Finals stage, and he seemed to be in position much of the time defensively, but other teams targeted him extensively. If he becomes above-average, he will become a very wealthy basketball player.

Payton Pritchard: Pritchard’s role increased, and it might do so again. If the Celtics need to scale back their super team over the next year or two, he could take on an outsized role.

The (sort of) bad news for Pritchard is that the Celtics certainly won’t scale back this season. They are in it for another championship, and they want their entire team back to chase it.

The good news for Pritchard, of course, is that he will make more than $23 million over the next three seasons, and if he remains in Boston, he will perennially contend for a title. Worse situations are certainly out there.

Luke Kornet: Nobody likes a good bit more than Luke Kornet, and even his free agency was something of a joke. His presence could make Porzingis’ absence much more tolerable. Can he ensure that Horford doesn’t overwork himself from opening night until Porzingis’ return?

Xavier Tillman Sr.: Xavier Tillman probably is not the Al Horford replacement. He’s shorter, his defense isn’t as versatile, he doesn’t defend bigs as well, he did not win back-to-back titles in college, and he is not on a Hall of Fame track at this stage in his career.

But. 

He is only 25. 

He can capably switch onto multiple positions and defend the pick-and-roll. 

He showed some flashes from the corners as a 3-point shooter. 

And he is a burly defender who could take a lot of good notes from Horford about defending some of the NBA’s more physical behemoths.

The Celtics may have been wise getting a two-year look at him.

Neemias Queta: Like Kornet, Queta should see a boost in his minutes this season with Porzingis out. He showed some real flashes during the Celtics’ elite regular-season run. The first two months of the season could be one of Queta’s biggest opportunities so far.

Jordan Walsh: Can Walsh be an NBA player this year? By all accounts, his time in Maine was a success, but the NBA is a completely different animal, and Walsh will need to be very productive to earn even spot minutes on a contender. Another developmental season would be fine … but the clock is ticking. 

Baylor Scheierman: Scheierman’s highlight reel will have Celtics fans dreaming. Watching NBA talent attack him defensively might be a wake-up call, but if Scheierman shows flashes on that end, he might raise some eyebrows. 

A lot of the eyebrows he raises this season are likely to be in Las Vegas and Portland, Maine, however.

Jaden Springer: Springer is still a very interesting player, but the Celtics’ guard depth is no joke. Can he break through and demand minutes?

J.D. Davison: The Celtics have made noise about loving Davison’s “trajectory,” which is presumably why they were willing to use yet another two-way slot on him. He’s an undeniable athlete and an intriguing distributor. Getting any kind of NBA run will require a huge leap, however, since he not only needs to prove he belongs – he also needs to jump players like Springer.

Drew Peterson: Peterson was a do-everything wing/forward in college, which becomes more difficult at the professional level where most teams need most players to really do one or two things at an elite level (and defend). A second look at how he develops makes sense, but he might be even more buried than Davison with the arrival of Scheierman.

Anton Watson: Can Watson shoot 3s at a decent clip in Las Vegas? He’s a versatile defender with a real shot at an NBA career if his shooting in his final year at Gonzaga is real. He will spend a lot of time in Maine, but of the two-way guys, his path to the regular roster might be the clearest.





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