The Celtics have more internal options to make up for the projected offensive production of Danilo Gallinari, who's likely out for the season due to a torn ACL, and the minutes he would've received at the four than at the five.
The Celtics' second unit now features a new sixth man in Malcolm Brogdon, who averaged 19.1 points per game last season. And Derrick White could prove more consistent thanks to being more comfortable after arriving in Boston at the trade deadline.
Those two also have the capability and length to slide up a position defensively. Brogdon has a 6'10 wingspan and White's is 6'7.5. The duo's defensive versatility also gives Ime Udoka the option to play Brogdon, White, and Payton Pritchard together.
The Celtics can also ask Grant Williams to bump down defensively, they'll short shift Jayson Tatum to keep at least one of him and Jaylen Brown on the floor, and Gallinari's injury creates an opportunity for Sam Hauser to carve out a role by proving he's reliable shooting off the catch from beyond the arc.
But when it comes to managing the center rotation without Gallinari factoring into the equation, Boston's internal options are short-shifting Al Horford and Robert Williams, which would likely lead to placing too much strain on them in the regular season.
Horford's probably willing to come off the bench, a move that would make Brogdon a starter, but the former's minutes would take a hit, and odds are the Celtics don't want to break up the starting unit that boasted the league's highest net rating among lineups that shared the court for at least 25 games last season, per NBA.com.
They could also utilize Grant Williams as a small-ball five. He held his own in that role as a rookie, but he's more productive when in the necessary shape to defend threes and fours, and there's more value in him doing that than playing short stretches at the pivot. Williams is leaner than he was his first two years in the NBA and deviating from that now, as training camp nears, to prepare for minutes at center is a risky approach that could lead to injury.
Boston could rely on Luke Kornet, who Brad Stevens made it a point to praise at the introductory press conference for Brogdon and Gallinari, saying, "we'll probably add one more person that can play in that area, but we're really believing in Luke as not only depth to fill out the roster but also be ready to help us."
The role Stevens speaks of, having Kornet as an option off the bench without depending too much on him making the most significant leap of his career, is ideal for Kornet and the Celtics.
All indications are Boston wants to keep its rotation intact entering the season, so while the situation is fluid and the Celtics could acquire a center in exchange for multiple second-round draft picks, there are a few free agents available they could talk themselves into signing.
That group includes Hassan Whiteside, Blake Griffin, old friend Tristan Thompson, and Dwight Howard.
When it comes to Whiteside, last season, he produced 8.2 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game while backing up Rudy Gobert for the Jazz. He's not a disciplined or versatile defensive player, and Boston may be least interested in adding a center whose best attribute is scoring near the rim. But Whiteside's a seven-footer who's productive in three areas and likely available for the veteran minimum.
Then, there's LaMarcus Aldridge. He and Udoka spent time together in San Antonio and Brooklyn. Last season, Aldridge averaged 12.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, and a block per game in 22.3 minutes of floor time in 47 appearances. However, he was not a part of the Nets' playoff rotation.
Still, he would add more scoring, he's a more natural option to play the pivot defensively than Gallinari would've been, he'll help on the glass, and the Celtics wouldn't have to part with any players or picks to acquire him.
Gallinari's injury and the timing of it sting, but when it comes to potential solutions, signing Aldridge is a logical move. Boston might still have to make an in-season trade to address the role Aldridge or any of the other free agent centers still available got signed to fulfill, but even then, the Celtics will be glad that leading up to that point, they avoided placing too much strain on their starting big men.