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The Celtics pulled off one of the most dramatic in-season turnarounds in NBA history, going from below .500, not even qualified for the Eastern Conference play-in tournament, to two wins from winning the NBA title.

But the Bucks are about to get Khris Middleton back. The Heat could bring a third star, like Bradley Beal or Donovan Mitchell, to Miami. Even if they don't, the Heat pushed Boston to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals and came within an open transition three for Jimmy Butler from having a one-point lead with 16 seconds left in the series-deciding matchup.

Miami did that despite Tyler Herro not playing games four through six and his groin injury limiting him to seven minutes in Game 7. Good fortune, including on the health front, is essential in getting to and winning the championship in any sport. And it's not as if the Celtics didn't also deal with injuries, including a compromised Robert Williams playing through a left knee meniscal tear. But a healthy Herro and upgrades to the rotation might be enough for the Heat to avenge this year's playoff loss if there's a rematch in 2023.


And then there's the Nets. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, among other NBA reporters, Kyrie Irving is opting into his $36.9 million player option for the 2022-23 season.

While the possibility of Brooklyn moving forward without Irving and Kevin Durant was legitimate, preserving their best path to a championship with the former playing for his next contract is an ideal outcome.

Boston must also be mindful of the teams in the West and a competitor, especially if it's a foe in the East, evolving into a championship contender.

But when it comes to roster building, the focus is internal. The Celtics' identity is on the defensive end, where they were the best team in the league last season.


So, when it comes to a potential Beal acquisition, one must understand the cost would likely include one of their defensive anchors, Robert Williams. Al Horford would also have to be in the deal, further moving Boston's identity in a different direction.

Maybe that's worth it, though. After all, Williams has trouble staying healthy, Horford's 36, and who knows how well Marcus Smart will age, given his playing style.

It's fair to survey the landscape, think critically about the Celtics' roster, and believe the team needs to raise its margin for error to hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy. And Beal's a three-time All-Star, former All-NBA player, and someone who averaged over 30 points two of the last three years.


He's also an underrated facilitator who's dished out at least 4.5 assists per game each of the last five years, including distributing a career-high 6.6 last season, albeit in 40 games due to undergoing left wrist surgery that cut his campaign short.

The six-foot-four Beal also grabbed a respectable 4.7 rebounds each of the last two seasons and averages 4.1 boards for his career. And while one wishes he was two inches taller, at his height with a six-foot-seven wingspan, it's not as easy to pick on him defensively as an undersized point guard.

One might also look at his marksmanship from beyond the arc and notice he's hovered around league average three of the last four years before plummeting to a 30 percent three-point shooter on 5.3 attempts per game last season. But that drop-off coincides with his left wrist injury.

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And to make it work in Boston, Beal would likely need to trim the number of shots he's getting after launching 19.3 last season, 23 the year before, and 22.9 in 2019-20. Doing so could turn him into a 37-38 percent three-point shooter. In his first five years in the NBA, Beal hovered around and at times exceeded converting his long-range looks at a 40-percent clip, often attempting 4.1-4.9 per season.

However, acquiring him for a package including the Timelord, Horford, and first-round picks would make it quite difficult for the Celtics to find a center it can trust defensively in the playoffs. It would also increase the burden placed on Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown defensively.


Furthermore, shifting away from a lineup featuring two big men to play Tatum primarily at the four could lead to problems on the glass. Boston dealt with that in the playoffs, especially when Williams or Horford was off the floor.

And despite underperforming for much of last season, the Celtics finished the campaign ranked 12th in points per game, generating 111.8, less than two fewer than the seventh-ranked Jazz (113.6), per They also went from ranking 18th in offensive rating on Jan. 1 to ending the season producing the ninth-most points per 100 possessions.

So, while there's a legitimate possibility Beal, Tatum, and Brown make the necessary sacrifices to mesh offensively, creating a trio that leads Boston to banner 18, a more measured approach seems like a better use of resources.

The Celtics can preserve their defensive identity, utilize their $17.1 million trade exception, the largest TPE in the NBA, to add a veteran wing scorer off the bench, and add a backup center to their rotation with the $6.3 taxpayer mid-level exception.

That not only seems more practical, but given the sacrifices and financial constraints of acquiring Beal and Brad Stevens and Ime Udoka preaching their desire to build on the identity established last season, it's a more realistic projection of how the Celtics will approach this offseason.

Further Reading

Celtics Assistant Will Hardy Reportedly a 'Leading Candidate' for Jazz Head-Coaching Job

Yam Madar No Longer on Celtics Summer League Team

Ime Udoka Sheds Light on Celtics Approach to Roster Building This Offseason

Brad Stevens Discusses JD Davison Selection: 'All you have to do is turn on a couple of minutes of clips, and you can see the upside'

Celtics Reportedly Interested in Acquiring Nicolas Batum

Latest Intel on Celtics' Summer League Roster, Including a Notable Absence

Exploring Who the Celtics Might Pursue with their $17.1 Million Trade Exception