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Jun 25, 2024 3:17 pm

Champion Celtics enter draft, free agency with few needs

Brad Stevens

Celtics president Brad Stevens faces a short turnaround from the NBA championship celebration to the first round of the draft on Wednesday night.

But with 11 players under contract and negotiations expected toward a new deal with Derrick White, acquired by Stevens and the Celtics in 2022, Boston’s roster is fairly set for next season.

Stevens said Tuesday he’s ready to use the two picks the Celtics have to add depth for the future, implying an international player to be stashed or a G League candidate could be on the radar Wednesday with the final pick in the first round, No. 30.

“It’ll be hard for any draft pick to crack our rotation when healthy,” Stevens said. “And so we’ll think about how we can best continue to invest in our young players and their development and growth. If we’re able to continue to move forward with this group, these guys are going to be on the court. This’ll be a good opportunity to bring in somebody who can help us down the road.”

The Celtics also pick 54th, five picks from the end of the second round in this draft, on Thursday. The 2024 NBA Draft is a two-night event with the first round held on Wednesday in Brooklyn and the second round, consisting of picks 31-58, the following night.

While Stevens confirmed expected surgery was imminent for center Kristaps Porzingis, the Celtics are not in position to be shoppers when free agency starts Sunday.

That’s in part because of the planned commitment to Jayson Tatum and White, who has only one year remaining on a four-year, $70 million contract.

Tatum, a five-time All-Star, has one year left on his contract. He’s eligible for a five-year, $315 million contract that would make him the NBA’s highest-paid player. ESPN reported last week the contract is expected to be finalized in July. Adding Tatum’s record contract to the books along with the $304 million deal signed by Jaylen Brown last summer won’t leave Stevens much room to find an insurance policy for Porzingis.

Boston signed Porzingis to a two-year extension through the 2025-26 season and gave Jrue Holiday a new deal that expires in 2027.

Stevens has said multiple times the Celtics plan to retain White. He can be offered up to 140 percent of his salary which would approach the four-year, $135 million extension Boston gave Holiday in April.

–Field Level Media

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