The Celtics made their big splash of the offseason last week when they acquired former All-Star center Kristaps Porzingis from the Wizards in the three-team deal that sent guard Marcus Smart to the Grizzlies.
So when free agency opened Friday night, Boston mostly operated on the fringes. According to a league source, the team agreed to a two-year, minimum-salary contract with Pacers forward Oshae Brissett. The second year of the deal is a player option, the source said.
Brissett, 25, went undrafted out of Syracuse in 2019 and signed a two-way contract with the Raptors. He spent the last three years with Indiana, and this past season averaged 6.5 points and 3.4 rebounds. The 6-foot-7 forward is a versatile defender who gives Boston some extra wing depth, potentially helping reduce the regular-season workloads of stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
Otherwise, it was a mostly quiet night for Boston. According to a league source, the Celtics are expected to soon finalize a two-year contract extension with Porzingis, who picked up his $36 million player option for next season in order to facilitate the trade from the Wizards last week. Porzingis is eligible for an extension worth as much as $77 million, but Turner Sports reported Friday night that his deal will be closer to $60 million.
There was no news Friday night regarding the status of forward Grant Williams, a restricted free agent. Last fall, Williams was seeking an extension worth about $54 million over four years, but the Celtics’ offer fell short of that and Williams played out the final year of his deal. He had a productive year before falling out of coach Joe Mazzulla’s rotation for much of the playoffs, raising questions about his long-term future in Boston.
League sources said last week that the addition of Porzingis, who fortified the frontcourt and added another hefty salary to the books, would make Williams’s return unlikely, especially considering that a big deal for Williams could send Boston past the $182.7 million second apron that activates further roster-building restrictions.
On Friday night, several teams with the salary-cap space that would allow them to sign Williams to a big offer sheet saw that room evaporate by agreeing to deals with other high-priced targets.
The Pacers were perhaps the most likely potential suitor, but according to a league source, Indiana agreed to a two-year, $45 million deal with Dorchester native Bruce Brown, a key piece in the Nuggets’ recent title run. The Rockets, who will be guided by former Celtics coach Ime Udoka, reportedly agreed to a three-year, $130 million deal with point guard Fred VanVleet.
Since Williams is a restricted free agent, Boston will have the option of matching any offer sheet he signs with another team, and a league source said Friday that the Celtics were mostly waiting for that to occur before being compelled to take their next step.
If the market for Williams dries up, his return to Boston would become increasingly likely, especially after president of basketball operations Brad Stevens on Thursday stressed that ownership had given him the “green light” to keep building a championship-level roster, regardless of luxury tax implications.
The Celtics could still orchestrate a sign-and-trade with a team that does not have the cap space needed to sign Williams, allowing them to recoup an asset or create a big trade exception. But if that situation arises, they could simply decide that keeping Williams in the fold is the best option.
Before the Celtics finalized the Porzingis deal with the Wizards and Grizzlies last week, they were on the verge of sending Malcolm Brogdon to the Clippers in a different three-team deal for Porzingis.
That trade eventually crumbled because Los Angeles did not have enough time to complete a physical exam of Brogdon, whose strained forearm slowed him during the conference finals against the Heat. The injury could still require surgery, but Brogdon is expected to be ready for the start of the season regardless, sources said.
A league source said Friday that the Celtics are not currently looking to trade Brogdon, and that they are comfortable bringing the reigning Sixth Man of the Year back in that role next season.
At 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, Brown will become eligible to receive a five-year, $295 million super-max extension. A league source said Friday that Brown is not expected to instantly agree to a deal, but both sides remain confident that one can be struck soon.
After stepping down as coach and replacing Danny Ainge as president of basketball operations two years ago, Stevens used Boston’s draft capital to fortify the roster around Tatum and Brown, trading away first-round picks in three consecutive seasons.
But he has begun to restock the cupboard the last two weeks, acquiring the Warriors’ 2024 first-round pick in the Porzingis trade, then making a series of deals on draft night to add four future second-round picks. The Celtics own most of their future first-round picks, too, with a potential pick swap with San Antonio in 2028 the lone exception. And a league source stressed that these assets are not being amassed for any future youth movement. The Celtics are positioning themselves to strike when the chance for another massive trade materializes. On Friday, though, they were content to simply tinker.