Avery Bradley’s impending restricted free agency is just one of the millions of questions this offseason, and we’ve debated his value for so long, it almost feels like a tired topic.
That’s not really the case though. Bradley’s next deal is going to be a very interesting indicator of where the Celtics see the 23-year old’s health and development, as well as his fit with the team going forward.
According to the Boston Herald, the Celtics aren’t likely to offer Bradley as much money as they offered during the season.
In most years, unrestricted free agents are a good bet to return to the team that holds their matching rights. But when Bradley and his camp broke off extension talks with the Celtics over the winter despite the fact that the sides weren’t far apart, the guard may also have lost out on his best-case money scenario for next season.
Bradley’s ongoing brittleness considered, the C’s are unlikely to return to the four-year, $24 million extension that was previously offered. The injury issue may also limit what he finds on the market this summer.
During Bradley’s lengthy tenure with the Celtics, we’ve gotten a fairly solid handle both on Bradley’s ceiling and on his potential value. Barring a fluky good year for AB and a down season for guards (a la Arron Afflalo this year), he probably won’t ever be an All-Star candidate. He’s a solid on-ball defender, and he’s good at spotting up from 3-point range (an impressive 39.5 percent this season) even though he loves long two-pointers too much (42.5 percent of his shots this season were from 16-23 feet).
So what do you pay an athletic-but-undersized-and-also-injury-prone 3-and-D shooting guard? $6 million a year sounds like a lot given Bradley’s injury history, and the Celtics are probably wise not to revisit a four-year deal. But perhaps offering a similar deal (or even overpaying) for two seasons would make some sense, since that would both A) pay Bradley and B) give the Celtics a low-risk chance to make sure his health will hold. If Boston offered three years/$18 million with a team option for the third season, that might get the job done since — as the Herald hinted — the sides weren’t far apart.
You have to feel for Bradley, who had a chance to make himself some serious money this season with no real offensive threats around him to demand touches and free agency approaching. But given his medical history, any team would be justifiably nervous offering him a big deal. There’s a good chance that whatever Boston offers him will be as good an offer as he gets.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.