The Celtics are among the teams with interest in soon-to-be free agent Al-Farouq Aminu, according to A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com. He isn’t a top priority for the Celtics, who are intent on re-signing Jae Crowder and Jonas Jerebko, Blakely writes, adding that he would nonetheless be unsurprised if the team looks more closely at Aminu if it can’t sign those two. Aminu confirmed Wednesday that he’ll turn down his minimum-salary player option for next season with the Mavs and hit free agency, though there’s mutual interest in a new deal between the forward and Dallas. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge made it clear last week that he’d like to re-sign Crowder, who’ll be a restricted free agent, and hinted today at a desire to bring back Jerebko.
Aminu, the eighth overall pick in the 2010 draft, was a premier defender in a bench role for the Mavericks this season, ranking sixth among small forwards in ESPN’s Defensive Real Plus/Minus metric. He played just as much power forward, as Basketball-Reference shows, and while his offensive contributions weren’t impressive, he capably filled the role that Shawn Marion had vacated when he left the Mavs for Cleveland last summer.
Jerebko is an improved three-point shooter over the past two seasons, having shot 39.7% on a healthy sample size of 214 attempts during that period. He’s not an especially strong rebounder for his 6’10” height, though he averaged more per 36 minutes during his 29-game stint with the Celtics than in any of his four and a half seasons with the Pistons. The 28-year-old would like to re-sign with the Celtics, and Ainge suggested today that there was some mutual interest before cautioning that “it all depends.”
Ainge made it clear today that he wants to land stars, though MassLive’s Jay King reported that the C’s are willing to chase a second-tier free agent with a lucrative offer and the idea that the player they target can eventually prove the contract worthwhile as the salary cap shoots skyward. It’s unclear if Aminu fits that bill, though the 24-year-old’s lottery pick pedigree suggests there might be untapped potential. The Celtics have only about $40MM in guaranteed salary committed against a projected $67.1MM cap.