To create the necessary cap space for Gordon Hayward’s four-year, $128 million max deal, the Boston Celtics sent Avery Bradley and a 2019 second-round pick to the Detroit Pistons on Friday in exchange for Marcus Morris, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. As a result, the Pistons renounced their qualifying offer for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, per Wojnarowski, making him an unrestricted free agent.
What do those moves mean for fantasy basketball owners? Let’s break it down for both teams.
While the Pistons’ decision to allow Caldwell-Pope to walk is somewhat stunning, the writing was on the wall after they acquired Bradley on Friday and came to terms with Langston Galloway on a three-year, $21 million deal on the first day of free agency. With KCP gone, Bradley should slide in as Detroit’s starting 2-guard alongside Reggie Jackson, where his defensive intensity, off-ball shooting and complementary playmaking will be a boon to the Pistons.
Last season, Bradley put up a career-high 16.3 points on 46.3 percent shooting, 6.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 2.0 triples and 1.2 steals in 33.4 minutes per night, finishing as the 57th-best player on a per-game basis in nine-category leagues. Seeing as Detroit lacks an all-star scoring presence on the level of Isaiah Thomas, the 26-year-old could be barreling toward more career-best numbers as he heads into a contract year. I had him just outside of the top 50 in my way-too-early big board back in April, but based on some of the other offseason movement, he may slide up into that late fifth- or early sixth-round range in the next update.
Morris’ departure, meanwhile, opens another hole in Detroit’s starting lineup, giving head coach Stan Van Gundy a few options with which to fill it. If he deems rising third-year forward Stanley Johnson ready, the former No. 8-overall pick could move into the starting lineup after starting just seven games over his first two seasons combined. Then again, Johnson is coming off a year in which he averaged just 4.4 points on 35.3 percent shooting, 2.5 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 0.7 steals in 17.8 minutes, so SVG could decide to go in a different direction.
If Johnson remains in Van Gundy’s doghouse, Tobias Harris could slide over from the 4 to the 3, with Jon Leuer moving into the starting lineup at power forward. Harris started 48 of the 82 games in which he appeared last season, putting up 16.1 points on 48.1 percent shooting, 5.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.3 triples in 31.3 minutes, to finish as the 64th-ranked player on a per-game basis in nine-category leagues. With Morris gone, Harris figures to remain in the starting lineup this year — whether at the 3 or the 4 — so his minutes may increase slightly as a result. Owners should consider grabbing him with a sixth- or seventh-round pick.
If Harris does slide to the 3 and allows Leuer to permanently move into the starting lineup, he’ll be an intriguing late-round option. The 28-year-old was relatively hit-or-miss last season, finishing 152nd overall in terms of per-game value, but he put up decent numbers during a 15-game stretch as a starter in February and early March. His floor-spacing ability could give him some appeal as a 3-point specialist if Van Gundy allows him to fire away from deep.
Rookie Luke Kennard, who measured 6-foot-5.5 at the NBA draft combine, could also see some spot minutes at the 3 in small-ball lineups, especially given Detroit’s need for shooting around Jackson and Andre Drummond. Though opposing forwards could roast Kennard defensively, he’ll be a late-round option as well, given Detroit’s lack of proven depth at the 2 and 3. Owners in standard leagues will likely leave him on the waiver wire to begin the season, however.
Alas, the #FreeJaeCrowder movement lives to fight another day. Meanwhile, Marcus Smart could be headed for a breakout season.
Given the recent comments from head coach Brad Stevens about how he envisions positions — namely, “It may be as simple as three positions now, where you’re either a ball-handler, a wing or a big” — it’s too simplistic to assume Smart will move into Boston’s starting lineup with Bradley now in Detroit. The Celtics could feasibly trot out a starting lineup of Hayward, Crowder, Morris, Thomas and Al Horford, with Smart, Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Guerschon Yabusele and Ante Zizic off the bench.
While the Celtics could favor bigger lineups to compensate for the undersized Thomas, Smart’s versatility make him a fixture in Boston’s rotation. Having a do-it-all forward in Hayward alongside him will suck defensive attention away, which should open the door for him to shoot a career-best percentage both from the field and from 3-point range. (That’s a relatively low bar, as he set his best marks on both fronts — 36.7 percent overall and 33.5 percent from three-point range — as a rookie.) Assuming Smart does boost his shooting efficiency, he’ll be a strong target around the 10th round, as he finished as the 115th-ranked player on a per-game basis last year despite his shooting woes.
Morris, meanwhile, may hemorrhage fantasy value upon his arrival in Boston. Even if the Celtics envision using Hayward, Tatum or Brown as their de facto shooting guard at times, he’s still in a six-man battle for playing time with those three, Crowder and Smart. It’s difficult seeing him come anywhere close to the 32.5 minutes he averaged while starting 79 games for Detroit this past season, and he only finished 150th in per-game value despite boasting that much playing time.
As Michael McCann of Sports Illustrated noted, Morris is also due to go on trial August 21 to face two felony charges of aggravated assault, which could lead to a suspension down the line. Owners shouldn’t expect much from Morris in Boston, making him a fringe late-round pick at best.
At this point, Crowder is the most difficult Celtics player to project, as the team’s wing logjam complicates his chances of reaching the 32.4 minutes per game he averaged last season. Both Tatum and Brown should be legitimate factors in Boston’s rotation, perhaps pushing Crowder’s playing time down to the high-20s rather than the low-30s. Rather than target him with an early sixth-round pick, he’ll likely belong somewhere in the seventh- or eighth-round range, barring any further shakeups to Boston’s roster.