One of the most under-the-radar deals of the NBA off-season saw Australian international Aron Baynes make the move from the Detroit Pistons to the Boston Celtics. While the versatile 30-year-old's arrival was somewhat overshadowed by the signing of Gordon Hayward, the addition of the six-foot-ten Baynes may yet prove to be one of the most important deals the Celtics did during the summer.
Signing Hayward was a huge boost to the C's, but it did see a host of bigs have to leave in order to accommodate the 2017 NBA All-Star.
With Kelly Olynyk, Amir Johnson and Tyler Zeller all leaving Boston during the summer, adding some options in their front court was crucial for the Celtics. While there were higher profile players available-- Dewayne Dedmon to name but one-- Baynes not only fit into the pay structure better, but his arrival doesn't require a great deal of work from the Boston management to fit the new man in. Agreeing on a one-year, $4.3 million contract, Baynes could have made more money staying in Detroit, but instead took up the option with the Celtics.
The C's issues at the board last season were clear by their ranking of 27th in the defensive rebounding rate, and Baynes will certainly strengthen the team in that particular area. While Boston were struggling with rebounds last year, Baynes averaged 4.4 rebounds a game for the Pistons, playing 15.5 minutes a game with an average of 4.9 points and 0.5 blocks, shooting 51.3 percent from the field and a solid 84 percent from the free-throw line. Those stats definitely don't look bad when you consider the modest salary the franchise have to pay out for him.
Joining a Celtics team being tipped by many to be potential dark horses this season, Baynes could have a massive role to play in Boston's hopes of upsetting the odds and pipping the Cavaliers and the Warriors to the championship this year. Priced at around +220 according to the latest basketball odds to top the Eastern Conference, it's clear that it isn't just Celtics fans that feel this team has the potential to mix it with the best in the NBA this season. Brad Stevens will be under no illusions that he has all the tools at his disposal to, if not go all the way, at least make a real impact in the postseason.
Not only will Baynes bring his sizeable frame and obvious physical attributes, the New Zealand-born Australian international also brings with him plenty of experience. As well as the lessons he learned playing around Europe during the early part of his career, Baynes has also gained a huge level of experience since his arrival in the NBA in 2013, not least playing an important role in the San Antonio Spurs' 2014 NBA championship run alongside fellow Aussie Patty Mills.
It remains to be seen just how Stevens will deploy Baynes in this Boston team, but the big man's versatility will certainly be to his advantage. One thing is for sure, he will have a role to play in a crucial season for the Celtics.