Tyler Zeller put up a solid season during his first go around with the Boston Celtics and could be in line for a contract extension before the Oct. 31 deadline. A lot might not have been expected from Zeller when he was acquired from the Cleveland Cavaliers in a three-team trade. However, he established himself as one of Boston’s best frontcourt options and averaged a career-best 10.2 points and 5.7 rebounds in 21 minutes per contest.
Boston’s frontcourt has become more crowded with the offseason additions of Amir Johnson and David Lee. Still, Zeller fit well into the system that head coach Brad Stevens put in place. Because of that fit, CSNNE’s A. Sherrod Blakely writes that Zeller could be a candidate for an extension.
While it might behoove Zeller to pass on an extension and to try and turn another good season into a longer and more lucrative deal with cap going up, there are no guarantees that he’ll see as many opportunities due to the added depth to the Celtics’ frontcourt. According to Blakely, Zeller has enjoyed his time in Boston and it could be beneficial to both sides to work out a deal now rather than waiting for free agency. Zeller isn’t necessarily the rim protecting center many teams look for, but he does well as a positional defender and flourished in his first season under Stevens.
The Celtics have two other players on the roster also eligible for extensions. Forward Jared Sullinger has played well when healthy, but has battled health and weight issues during his short time in the league. The Celtics might actually be interested in locking up a young player like Sullinger, but he could see a big pay day if he can stay healthy and turn in a solid campaign. Sullinger averaged 13.3 points and 7.6 rebounds last season, though he played in just 58 games. With a solid season, Sullinger could find himself in high demand thanks to the number of teams that’ll have plenty of cap room to spend next summer.
Boston acquired Perry Jones III in a salary dump by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Whenever you talk about Jones, the word potential always seems to come up. At this point, Boston doesn’t really know what it has with Jones nor how he will fit with Stevens’s system. Jones showed flashes while with the Thunder, but injuries and a lack of consistent playing time limited those opportunities. If he can carve out a role in the rotation with the Celtics, then he could be in a great situation heading into the offseason. However, it’s highly unlikely that extending him before the season would be advantageous to either side, and there’s still a chance he may not even be on the team at the start of the season.
Given the amount of money that’ll be available next summer due to the expected cap explosion, it seems unlikely that a lot of players will be willing to take extensions and give up the chance for a potentially bigger pay day next summer. Still, for a guy like Zeller, fit and comfort may play a big part, especially with the uncertainty of how Boston’s frontcourt picture will eventually play out.