In a move that comes as no surprise, the Celtics officially extended a qualifying offer today to rookie center Greg Stiemsma. The 26-year-old, who averaged 2.9 points and 3.2 rebounds per game last season, had a standard qualifying offer of $1.05 million extended from the C’s that he can sign at any point the rules allow in free agency. Additionally he can now hit the market officially as a restricted free agent on July 1st. That free agent restriction though gives the C’s three days to match any offer Stiemsma could receive from another team around the league next month.
CH Analysis: Despite the acquisition of Fab Melo in the first round last night, there’s no question Danny Ainge wants to bring the Steamer back to help shore up his front line for next season. The big man performed well for the majority of the second half of the season and postseason despite playing through a variety of foot injuries which limited his production. Stiemsma is a shot-blocking force (averaged 1.5 per game), can hit a mid-range jumper and performed well generally in the C’s defensive scheme before facing players he could not hang with athletically (i.e. the Miami Heat).
All in all, it should be interesting to see how Stiemsma’s market plays out in free agency. As a capable center, will someone overpay Stiemsma to pry him away from Boston’s grasp? That question lies within just how much Stiemsma is worth to Ainge and company. Ideally, they probably would want to bring him back for one year on the qualifying offer, a very affordable 1.05 million. You have to think (or hope) he is ahead of Ryan Hollins in the free agency depth chart as well in this process.
Signing the qualifying offer sheet may appeal to Stiemsma as well, since it would allow him to be an unrestricted free agent next summer, giving him more options in free agency to land a long-term deal. That of course is also a risk if he gets buried on the C’s bench next season though if they find a better backup center or if Fab Melo emerges quickly.
Either way, odds are that Stiemsma makes his way back to Boston one way or another for at least next season. Both sides had to be happy with how things went last year and the Steamer could get a decent sized payday if he follows up with a strong sophomore campaign with some good health to aid him in the 2012-13 season.