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It's not often a player who logs six starts in the NBA playoffs then suits up at Summer League. However, the Grizzlies' roster features an abundance of players worthy of being in an NBA rotation. That makes it increasingly challenging to earn minutes. Even with Tillman starting in place of Steven Adams, who entered healthy and safety protocols, he averaged fewer than 16 minutes per game in the playoffs.

That reality motivated Tillman to tell Memphis he wanted to be a part of the team it puts together for Las Vegas. And it just so happens the Grizzlies matched up with a team actively pursuing an addition that would bolster its depth at center.

In Thursday's Summer League game between Memphis and Boston, JD Davison starred with 28 points and ten assists, both game highs, the latter matching Grizzlies guard Kennedy Chandler's output. Davison also had five rebounds, three steals, and a block. He was aggressive, looked to score, consistently got into the paint, and shot the ball well, making nine of 14 field goals, including four of his six attempts from beyond the arc.

While Davison led the Celtics to a 108-91 win, Tillman registered 12 points on 4/10 shooting and grabbed two rebounds in nearly 19 minutes of floor time (18:50).

Tillman isn't one to stuff the stat sheet, though. When he received more playing time as a rookie in 2020-21, logging 18.4 minutes per contest, he produced 6.6 points and 4.3 rebounds. However, thanks to being a high IQ, versatile, two-way big man, the former Michigan State Spartan effectively transitioned to the NBA and demonstrated his value to those watching.

Listed at six-foot-eight, 245 pounds on, Tillman would benefit from dropping some of the weight he's added since entering the league. But volunteering for Summer League speaks positively about his work ethic.

Considering the Celtics' options to upgrade their depth at center, Tillman might be as good as it gets. The primary question is the cost. Given the Grizzlies depth, if they're willing to part with him for two second-round picks -- Boston has three in 2023 -- Brad Stevens shouldn't hesitate to get the deal done.

If Memphis won't trade Tillman to the Celtics without getting back Payton Pritchard, it becomes a matter of how Boston feels about its other external options at center and its vision for the third-year guard.

If Malcolm Brogdon, who hasn't played 65 games since his rookie season, misses time, Pritchard adds value as an insurance policy. The same goes for the event Derrick White, whose confidence wanes at times, is having an off night. Given the defensive versatility of Brogdon and White and Pritchard's underrated abilities as an on-ball defender against guards, Ime Udoka may even experiment with all three on the court together.

Whether it requires Pritchard's inclusion or not, if the Celtics acquire Tillman, the former second-round selection would be on their books for just $1.8 million this season. Boston could easily absorb his salary with a handful of its trade exceptions. He then has a $1.9 million club option for the 2023-24 campaign. 

Adding a big-bodied center whose intelligent, versatile, contributes on both ends, and can stay in the rotation during the playoffs is incredibly valuable to a Celtics team in need of someone who allows them to pace Al Horford and Robert Williams through this regular and post season. Tillman might be the best Boston can do filling this need. It's a matter of what the team's willing to part with to get a deal done.

Unless noted otherwise, all stats are from Basketball-Reference and Spotrac.

Further Reading

Celtics Address Multiple Needs with Malcolm Brogdon Trade

Celtics Attend Israeli League MVP Chinanu Onuaku's Summer League Workout

Pacers Waiving Three Players Acquired in Malcolm Brogdon Trade

Brad Stevens Says He Has 'Green Light' from Ownership to Spend What It Takes to Win

Danilo Gallinari Discusses Turning Down More Lucrative Offers to Join Celtics

Malcolm Brogdon Discusses Dynamic Between He and Marcus Smart as Former Embraces Sixth-Man Role

Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari Prepared to Make Necessary Sacrifices to Win a Championship

[Film Room] JD Davison's Mostly Positive Summer League Debut