Expectations Of Josh Richardson Following His Extension with The Celtics

Photo via: Flickr.com

 

Josh Richardson has made yet another move since his departure from the Miami Heat. The swingman joined the Boston Celtics in the off season – the team acquired him last month following a season with the Dallas Mavericks, taking on his $11.6 million salary.

 

He has since been handed an extension that should see him remain in Boston through 2022/23 that also includes a bit of a raise. He’s now on $12.2 million a year and will be the fifth-highest paid Celtic over the next two seasons as he’s poised to rake in $24.4 million.

 

“Josh brings a great grit and edge,” new president of basketball operations Brad Stevens said of the player. “He can defend several positions. I think that last year was a little bit of an anomaly in how he shot the ball. He’s always been a good shooter and our numbers would say that when he gets the open opportunities, he’s better obviously than he shot last year. But he wants to win.”

 

The Celtics will be glad to be rid of the Gordon Hayward situation. After suffering a season-ending injury minutes into his first game with the Celtics in 2017, the forward also injured his ankle in the first game of Boston’s run to the Eastern Conference Finals in the bubble last year. He only returned in Game 3 of said finals and was unable to prevent Boston from losing to the Heat. He would leave for the Charlotte Hornets in the summer.

 

Richardson is the player the Celtics have to show for Howard. The forward, who will be 28 prior to the start of next season, is going to play for his fourth team in as many years and Celtics fans would be forgiven for being a bit skeptical over the developments. That Richardson’s three-point shooting has been in consistent decline every season doesn’t look great either.

 

New head coach Ime Udoka has a lot to fix in Boston, even issues dating back to the disappointment of acquiring Kyrie Irving,  and Richardson happens to be one of them. Udoka has a relationship with the player, having coached under Brett Brown in Philadelphia while he was a player there.

 

“A guy I worked with in Philadelphia and a guy I saw a ton of in Miami (when Udoka was coaching for the Spurs),” Udoka was quoted as saying earlier this month. “Defensive mindset, versatile defender, a guy that can play on and off the ball, he’s done that some in Miami and he’s played some point guard. So he is a guy who can do a lot of things.”

 

It would be a huge positive if Richardson could improve his shooting numbers and Celtics fans dipping into the NBA odds would be pleased to see it. The former Tennessee Volunteers star had his best shooting season in 2017/18, his first season as a starter in Miami, making 37.8 percent of his three-point attempts. Given his ability as a two-way player and a defender who could guard multiple positions, such shooting stats would be great. However, that dropped to 35.7 percent in his second starting season with the Heat. It dropped further to 34.1 percent after he joined the 76ers as part of the trade that saw Jimmy Butler land in Miami.

 

After getting traded to the Mavericks for Seth Curry, Richardson ended the season shooting 33.0 percent from beyond the arc.

 

Whether he gets back to that career-best range is left to be seen but there are a few factors that could be blamed for the dip. Richardson’s final year with the Heat saw him take the most shots on the team and the pressure of being the alpha male on a squad was probably too much for a player simply not made for it. Of course, he naturally became a target for opposing defenses, which would impact his shooting.

Photo via: Wikimedia Commons

 

The Sixers had notable problems with spacing after he joined so that could have contributed to the further slip. Last season in Dallas, he tested positive for COVID-19 and spent three weeks out. He was never able to find a rhythm following his return. While he had some good games, he was riding the bench by the time the playoffs started, playing just 13.4 minutes and scoring just 4.9 points per contest.

 

Udoka seems to have understood all of that and appears to have faith in the player, whom he expects to at least deliver defensively. But it remains to be seen as to whether he will go back to being a starter in the NBA.

“Didn’t shoot it that well last year, but we’ll get him back to that,” the coach said. “He’s a better shooter than he showed in Dallas. But Josh is another guy you can plug into a lot of different areas, small or big or your point guard. Defensively, he can guard all of those positions.”

 

The Celtics desperately need this move to work out and so does Josh. The upcoming season could be make-or-break for him.

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