Boston Celtics: Josh Richardson extension furthers cements front office’s plan

Head coach Brad Stevens of the Boston Celtics (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Head coach Brad Stevens of the Boston Celtics (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

Another day, another extension for the Boston Celtics. This time, new President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens decided it was time to lock up new forward Josh Richardson for another season. The extension is a one year deal worth $12.4 million, which will tack onto the end of Richardson’s current deal.

This is the third extension the Celtics have agreed to with one of their players in the past week. Gone are the days when fans could dream about signing another big name free agent next offseason. The front office has made it clear they intend to lock up their current core for an extended period of time, while also giving themselves flexibility down the line.

Some may question why the Boston already decided to extend a guy who hasn’t even set foot on the TD Garden court while wearing a Celtics uniform. Not to mention, Boston is already a bit crowded now at the wing position, and Richardson has been a relatively streaky player throughout his career. But the C’s front office has already begun to make their plan clear to those paying attention, and Richardson’s extension only further cements it into place.

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Similarly to the two extensions handed out to Marcus Smart and Rob Williams, Stevens and the front office have almost instantly made Richardson a more valuable trade piece in the event the team decides to ship him off. His $12 million salary for next season is relatively cheap, and now he’s under team control for multiple seasons compared to one.

The Smart and Williams extensions left some Boston Celtics fans scratching their heads in the aftermath of the news. They were seemingly loading up to make a run at a max-deal player next offseason, and those deals went against that. But Richardson’s deal shouldn’t be met with the same skepticism.

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Boston is building up their players trade value through these extensions. Smart, Williams, and Richardson are all on multi-year deals now for relatively good value. Teams may have initially been skeptical if Boston was shopping these guys around because they were all on one year deals. That’s not the case anymore.

Now, these guys could be building blocks in a potential blockbuster deal for a star if the Boston Celtics find a deal they like. Smart, Williams, and Richardson were probably three of their top trade targets (aside from Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, obviously) before their extensions. These deals have only ensured their value goes up.

This is all purely speculative, and even if Boston does end up holding onto these guys, there’s no shame in that. Richardson’s contract is still quite cheap for his skillset, and when he’s playing up to his potential he is one of the better three-and-d wings in this league. Not to mention, Williams has the potential to make his deal look like an absolute bargain if he can stay on the court.

Each of these extensions should be considered win-win deals for Boston. It helps increase the probability that they can swing a blockbuster trade to bring in another superstar to work with Tatum and Brown. And even if they don’t trade them, they are still valuable contributors that can come in and help right away, and on relatively team friendly deals nonetheless.

Everyone figured, somewhat foolishly, that Boston was just going to wait until next offseason to get to work rebuilding their team. But you can’t take seasons off in the NBA, the league moves too quick. Nobody is more aware of this than Stevens, and his ability to drastically improve Boston’s standing in a matter of months is quite impressive.

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Now Boston has the flexiblity to pull of a major deal that once seemed improbable because of the Kemba Walker deal. Even if they don’t this team is still in a better spot to contend then they were at the end of last season. The Celtics aren’t a championship contender yet, but they are in a much better spot to make themselves one than they were just a few months ago, and extensions like the one they handed out to Richardson are a big reason for that.