The Boston Celtics offseason plans continued to unfold yesterday afternoon, as new President of Basketball Operations continued to wheel and deal in his new role.
His latest move sees the Celtics trading for Juancho Hernangomez from the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for Carsen Edwards and Kris Dunn. Both teams also swapped second round picks in the deal as well, which can’t officially be announced until September 15th due to Dunn being traded here only a couple months back.
While it is a relatively low-key move, this could end up being quite an important trade that solidifies Boston’s rotation and bench depth. Too often last season, the Boston Celtics were searching for help from an inexperienced bench unit that simply wasn’t deep enough to help out the starters. It looks like Stevens is intent on making sure that’s not the case this upcoming season.
Boston has quickly swapped out some of their inexperienced younger players for more proven veteran ones. Gone are guys like Semi Ojeleye, Carsen Edwards, and Tacko Fall. New faces off the bench now consist of proven veterans such as Josh Richardson, Dennis Schroder, and Enes Kanter.
You can now add Hernangomez to that list too. Although he will be just 26 this upcoming season, Hernangomez comes in and gives Boston a more experienced power forward option to bring off the bench. Even with all their offseason moves, it seemed like Boston probably had a few too many guards who wouldn’t contribute much, and a need for another forward or big man to balance out the roster. That’s precisely what this move accomplished.
Juancho Hernangomez could be the final piece to the Boston Celtics bench
Before we get carried away here, it’s clear Hernangomez is not going to be the difference between whether or not the Boston Celtics are contending for a title. He has never averaged double digit points over a full season, and has generally been inconsistent on both sides of the ball.
Hernangomez displayed his potential over a 14 game stretch at the end of the 2019-20 season with the Minnesota Timberwolves when he averaged 12.9 points per game and 7.3 rebounds per game, but the C’s would be wise to not count on him producing like that for them. What Hernangomez adds is depth at the power forward position Boston sorely needed.
Think about it; how many times have we seen Grant Williams, who is just 6’6, be forced to play as an undersized center due to a lack of options? Williams is undersized for a power forward in general, and there’s a good portion of centers in this league that are atleast a half foot bigger than him.
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This hopefully won’t be an issue Boston faces next season, considering they have guys like Rob Williams, Al Horford, and Enes Kanter set to all get minutes throughout the course of these games. Hernangomez adds another layer of insurance, which is just what Boston needed.
In the process, they managed to get rid of two players who probably weren’t going to get much playing time this upcoming season. Edwards and Dunn were both probably made expendable due to Payton Pritchard’s killer Summer League performance, and it’s no surprise they were shipped out here to shore up another position on the roster.
Edwards is a streaky shooter at best, and just hasn’t shown anything that makes you believe he’s ready to take the next jump in his development to earn more minutes. Dunn on the other hand was renowned for his defensive tenacity, but he has two guys in front of him in Marcus Smart and Josh Richardson who fill the same role, making him the odd man out.
Depending on how Boston decides to configure their starting lineup (the thought here is Smart, Brown, Tatum, Horford, R. Williams) Boston is now set to have a much deeper bench then they did last season. Schroder, Richardson, and Kanter are probably the first three guys off the bench after, but even afterwards you still have guys like Pritchard, Romeo Langford, and Aaron Nesmith who all showed they could be set to make a jump this upcoming season during Summer League action.
Even without factoring in the addition of Hernangomez, it was clear that Edwards and Dunn were going to be tallying a lot of Did Not Play – Coach’s Decisions this season if they stuck around. Hernangomez may end up not seeing the court much either to begin with, but as the season goes on and injuries pile up, he will be a much more valuable commodity than either Edwards or Dunn.
The Boston Celtics second unit is deep even without Hernangomez, but it feels like he might be the final piece to shore up the unit. Considering Stevens still has some trade exemptions at his disposal, he may not be done making moves, but the bench feels pretty complete. Hernangomez adds another versatile forward who is a bit bigger than a guy like Grant Williams, and that was really the last thing Boston needed position wise on their bench.
After fans were clamoring for Stevens and the front office to make a big move for another star early on, it’s clear Stevens is taking the route of the two teams that just made the NBA Finals. The Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns both made the Finals this past season because of their depth, and that appears to be what Stevens is aiming for here. It’s not a game changing move, but the addition of Hernangomez to Boston’s bench may be the final move to solidify the C’s bench.