Avery Bradley is one of the most fundamentally flawed and simultaneously talented players on Boston’s roster. As such, he is also one of the most polarizing.
Fans of Bradley’s game will point to his vicious defense and one season of excellent spot-up 3-point shooting as reasons to extend him. Everyone else…well, they point to essentially all of last year — his utter lack of play-making ability, his size and his struggles on both ends in the playoffs.
As such, it’s probably in Boston’s best interest to wait on any concrete contract discussions until this summer when Bradley becomes a restricted free agent. And although the Celtics are in talks with him according to Danny Ainge, A. Sherrod Blakely says it’s likely we won’t see a new deal before then.
Team president Danny Ainge, speaking prior to the Celtics Shamrock Foundation’s annual gala, said he has had talks this month with Avery Bradley’s representatives about extending the 6-foot-2 guard’s contract.
Ainge declined to address where those talks stand now, but all indications are that both sides will wait until Bradley becomes a restricted free agent this summer to work out a new deal.
Bradley, who is due to earn $2.51 million this season, has also remained mum on the topic, preferring to instead focus on doing his part to help the Celtics through this transition period.
Michael Pina already wrote about this at length for us, so I won’t reiterate his thoughts too extensively, but it’s good to see the Celtics exercising caution. Bradley’s defense is not overrated (although it does make him foul-prone at times), but we’ve really only seen roughly two-thirds of an effective season from him offensively. Most Celtics fans believe some of his offensive inefficiency stems from being played out of position at point guard for most of last season, and there certainly is a pretty massive difference between being a secondary passer and ball-handler at shooting guard instead of being a primary passer and ball-handler.
There are still signs Bradley could be a spot-up shooter. His shooting was mediocre at best last year, but spot-up shooting was still his strongest area — he hit 37.2% from 3-point range in spot-up situations according to MySynergySports.com. When Rajon Rondo returns, Bradley should be able to go back to his previously efficient play — backdoor cuts, spot-up jumpers and running out in transition.
But, frankly, the Celtics need to see it. For 2011-12 Avery Bradley, Boston would probably end up paying in the $7-9 million per year range. For last year’s Bradley, $5 million per year would probably be a significant overpay.
Boston could overpay for a short amount of time, giving Bradley a little bit of time to develop while any potential star the Celtics might employ (*coughs* Julius Randle *coughs again*) would still be on a rookie contract. After a season and a half at point guard, it’s possible Bradley’s confidence may have eroded causing him to regress overall, but a couple of years — even for potentially more money than he’s worth — would probably be enough to give us a clear picture of Bradley’s NBA skillset.
One way or another, this season is huge for Bradley. A good year will get him paid pretty significantly, either by the Celtics or by another team in restricted free agency (someone might offer him a large contract sheet and dare the Celtics to match this offseason). A bad year will cost him millions and may present significant doubts as to how big his impact might be in the NBA.
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