The Boston Celtics have already upgraded their roster with the addition of Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari, but there is one thing missing from a championship caliber roster is another big man to back up Al Horford and Robert Williams.
A fan favorite in Boston prior to being traded in 2019, Baynes was everything the Celtics wanted in a big man. He rebounded, he protected the rim, he brought toughness on the court, and he even developed some rage from beyond the stripe. A perfect fit as a third center on this roster if he was the Baynes prior to the injury.
NBA Rumors: Boston Celtics have checked in on Aron Baynes
That is why Celtics fans in general are clamoring for a reunion and per the Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach, the Celtics are at least checking in on Baynes’ progress:
Not great news, but not bad either. The Celtics may not intend on signing Baynes at the moment, but the fact that they checked in means they are kicking the tires and they should. Not only does Baynes know the system, but he would also bring energy and toughness off the bench.
Of course, this all depends on whether he is all the way back the Aaron Baynes of old or close to getting there. Can he be a piece to the Celtics championship hopes is the question? Again, it depends on his physicality, but what he did for the Celtics during his first tenure with the team could absolutely help. Heck, it would’ve helped during the Finals to keep the Golden State Warriors off the board.
But Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens knows this firsthand as he coached him back in 2019 and prior. On the flip side, Stevens would also know if Baynes is worth gambling on. There is also the possibility he has something else up his sleeve but checking in on Baynes as a backup plan.
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Whatever the case, Stevens is a fan of Baynes and knows how his presence can help a player like Horford.
"“Everybody benefits from Baynes,” Stevens said back in January 2019, as transcribed by NBC Sports Boston. “I think that it allows Al to post a little bit more. That allows Al to guard fours and not have to bang as much. Baynes takes a lot of weight off of everybody’s shoulders.B"
That would be true in 2022-23. Whether its playing alongside Horford or Robert Williams, that presence under the hoop allows both those players to roam more on defense. Because of Williams, the Boston Celtics don’t need extensive minutes out of Baynes, which makes adding the 35-year-old big man a low risk move that would make the bench even deeper.
So, what should the Celtics do?
With a few other options out there, the Celtics could fill this role with a player on the veteran’s minimum or use that $17.1 million TPE on a player that suddenly becomes available, or they can wait it out. Whatever they decide to do, it is obvious Luke Kornet is not the solution.
Until they go in a certain direction, it is hard not to envision Aaron Baynes as the missing piece to the puzzle. It would be one heck of an NBA comeback story if he becomes just that.