The Celtics are oh-so-close to being an NBA Finals team. It almost happened this year, and absolutely could happen in 2019 if they play their cards right. Celtics moves in free agency this summer, even minor-looking moves, could make all the difference. A steal here, an offensive rebound there, a few role players stepping up, and the glory of the Finals is possible. Here’s the Boston Globe reporting on the 2018 Celtics free agency picture:

The Celtics have three unrestricted free agents in Shane Larkin, Greg Monroe and Aron Baynes. Larkin likely will procure a multiyear offer from another club as a backup point guard, substantially more than the $1.5 million he earned this season.

Monroe likely is gone. He was such a defensive liability and a poor finisher at the rim that Stevens couldn’t play him extensively during the playoffs…

The Celtics need to keep Baynes but they don’t own his Bird Rights, meaning bringing him back would occupy salary cap space and the Celtics likely won’t be able to compete with other offers from teams with cap space. Baynes proved he could be a starting center on a contending team, was durable despite getting into series of ghastly collisions this season, and was a decent midrange and improving 3-point shooter…

Marcus Smart is a restricted free agent, meaning the Celtics have the right to match any offer and they will allow Smart to fish out those offer sheets and determine whether they should match. Smart’s market value is difficult to determine because he’s an erratic offensive player who makes plays at critical moments.

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