With the draft, free agency and Summer League all wrapped up, and the start of training camp still weeks away, this is the lone quiet stretch of the NBA calendar. Even in this condensed offseason, there’s still enough time for many in the league to get away from the grind for a bit.
Not everyone is on vacation, however. On Monday, the Boston Celtics agreed to a one-year, $12 million extension with Josh Richardson, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. The Celtics had previously acquired Richardson earlier this offseason in a trade with the Dallas Mavericks.
The 27-year-old Richardson is coming off a disappointing season with the Mavericks, in which he averaged 12.1 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game, but shot just 42.7 percent from the field and 33 percent from 3-point land. By the final few games of the Mavericks’ first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers, he was largely out of the rotation.
In theory, Richardson is a versatile defensive wing who can help on offense without needing to have the ball in his hands all the time. In practice, however, he hasn’t lived up to those ideals, at least not since his 2019 campaign with the Miami Heat. From there, he’s bounced around between the Philadelphia 76ers, Mavericks and now the Celtics, with his numbers and impact decreasing at each stop.
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That is not an encouraging trend, but Richardson previously worked with new head coach Ime Udoka in Philadelphia and coming in for a one-year audition with a Celtics team where he is looking to reinvent himself, the fit made sense. Giving him an extension before he’s even played a game with the team, however, does not. At least not in terms of typical team-building rules.
But given the Celtics’ clear desire to add a third star to play alongside Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, and, in particular, all of the rumors swirling around Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal, it seems likely they tacked this extension onto Richardson’s deal with the intention of trading him.
In a scenario where the Celtics want to trade for Beal or someone else, and they have to get to a big number to match salaries, Richardson at about $12 million could help them get there without including Marcus Smart or Robert Williams. We’ll see how that works out, but it’s hard to imagine the Celtics would burn so much of their remaining 2022 cap space this early unless they had some corresponding moves up their sleeve.