Celtics Predicted to Lose Fan-Favorite Big Man to Grizzlies Next Season

The Boston Celtics have entered the NBA’s second tax apron and, hence, won’t have much money to offer in free agency. They also have a few players who could enter free agency and potentially leave, like Luke Kornet.

Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley explained how the Celtics have to approach Kornet’s upcoming free agency.

“He is someone the Celtics should want to keep. The question is whether they can afford him. They’ll be in the second apron next season, so they’ll have to carefully manage their finances, particularly when it comes to fleshing out the roster around their stars. Kornet is helpful to have, but is he a necessity? That probably hinges on how the market views him.

“Prediction: Kornet signs with the Memphis Grizzlies,” Buckley wrote in an April 11 story. He didn’t explain why exactly Kornet would choose the Grizzlies.

Kornet is in the final year of a two-year, $4.5 million contract. He has been involved with the Celtics in some capacity over the last four seasons, dating back to 2021. Since bringing him back in 2022, the Celtics have steadily involved him more and more with each passing season.

Kornet’s minutes per game average has gone from 7.1 to 15.3 a game. Boston has depended on him as they’ve rested Kristaps Porzingis and Al Horford.

Neemias Queta Praises Luke Kornet’s Influence

Queta has spent much of the season with the Celtics’ G-League affiliate, the Maine Celtics, which Kornet used to play for. On the same day he signed a standard contract with the Celtics, he singled out Kornet for his influence on his game in Maine.

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After last night’s monster game, Neemias Queta told me how he’s learned from Luke Kornet, who was once in a similar situation as him in Maine.

“A lot of the stuff he tells me, I just try and translate. He’s been a great vet for me.”

Today, Queta signs a standard contract. pic.twitter.com/3SNG2wAxY3

— Noa Dalzell 🏀 (@NoaDalzellNBA) April 9, 2024

“I’m really happy that I was able to learn from a player who’s been in this situation as I was. A lot of the stuff he tells me, I just try and translate. He’s been a great vet for me,” Queta said, per Noa Dalzell’s X account.

When the Celtics brought Kornet back during the 2021-22 season, they originally signed him to a G-League contract. After the Celtics overhauled their team, they signed him to a standard contract. Kornet has played well enough to earn himself a market when he enters free agency.

The question will be if he becomes too expensive to keep. If that is the case, the Celtics at least have Queta signed on for the 2023-24 season as his potential replacement.

Celtics Predicted to Keep Xavier Tillman

In that same article, Buckley predicted that the Celtics would keep Tillman. Especially if they have to choose between him and Kornet.

“It might be harder for him to get a sizable pay raise than it is for Kornet, which could wind up settling this debate for Boston. If Kornet finds more money than the Celtics are willing to pay, Tillman could loom as the more cost-efficient option to keep, and since he’s younger (and theoretically still developing) and more versatile on defense, it’s possible he could wind up handling a bigger role than Kornet has filled.”

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The Celtics have Tillman’s bird rights when he enters free agency. Coincidentally, the Celtics acquired Tillman from the Grizzlies.

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