The overlap in the Boston Celtics’ backcourt just got a little bit more noticeable.
As Baxter Holmes of the Boston Herald originally reported, free agent Avery Bradley and the Celtics have agreed to a new contract for the 23-year-old. Bradley’s new contract is a four-year deal worth $32 million.
Can confirm that the #Celtics & RFA Avery Bradley have agreed to a deal. Terms: 4-year-deal worth $32 million.
— Baxter Holmes (@BaxterHolmes) July 2, 2014
Though the Celtics roster being a tad depleted probably had something to do with Bradley’s career-high numbers, Boston’s starting shooting guard had his best season yet in 2013-14, averaging 14.9 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game. A valuable on-the-ball defender and improving three-point shooter (39.5 percent this season), Bradley has shown enough promise in his four years in Boston to keep him there for at least another four.
The Celtics extended Bradley a qualifying offer on Monday to make him a restricted free agent, but made sure to take care of his free agency right away to avoid having to match other team’s offers and lock Bradley down as soon as possible after failing to reach an extension agreement at the start of the 2013-14 season.
There are two things to keep in mind about Avery Bradley’s new deal: 1) $8 million per year is manageable, but it is a pretty big extension for a guy who has never played more than 64 games in a season and 2) The Celtics have a pretty crowded backcourt now. To the first point, this feels like a huge contract for a guy like Bradley.
He’s a terrific defender and many believe that he’s still developing. It was only a few years ago that he was replacing Ray Allen as the Celtics’ starting shooting guard because of that defense and the way he fits with Rajon Rondo. Last season, ankle injuries forced Bradley to miss 22 games. The year before that, he was out for 31 games from two shoulder surgeries.
$8 mill is higher than I would have paid for Bradley, but w/ all the cap space the C’s have next yr, it’s not awful. As long as he’s healthy
— Michael Dyer (@Mike_Dyer13) July 2, 2014
After watching Bradley earn $8 million per year and Jodie Meeks get $18 million over three years, it’ll be interesting to see how the market pays a guy like Lance Stephenson, for example. However, this also deal stirs the pot of Rajon Rondo trade rumors a little bit more, especially after the Celts took Marcus Smart and James Young in the draft this year.
It’s entirely possible Boston just wants a little more depth in the backcourt and Smart/Young will be definite upgrades of backups Phil Pressey, Chris Babb and Keith Bogans. But even though you draft for talent, not need, the Celtics do have a little bit of overlap at the guard position and it will be interesting to see how head coach Brad Stevens chooses to play his guards together. Are Rondo and Bradley still better playing together, or will Marcus Smart be given a chance to start?
Only time will tell, and as Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com reports, Danny Ainge would like to have a three-man rotation with Rondo, Smart and Bradley in the backcourt (which would move Young to the wing where he could also fit). But we also shouldn’t ignore that drafting Smart while locking down Bradley could make Rondo expendable if the Celtics choose to pull the trigger on a trade.