Tyler Zeller

The Boston Celtics have a number of players that are up for an extension and upgrade from their rookie deal, with Tyler Zeller included, but there doesn’t seem to be any rush from the team to make it happen.

The 17th overall pick in the 2012 draft, Zeller is entering the fourth and final season of his rookie deal, worth $2.6 million. He averaged a career high 10.2 points per game last season despite his minutes dropping to 21.1 a night. His per minute and per possession numbers were the best they’ve ever been. The Celtics were quite surprised from his performances after not showing a lot of promise in Cleveland during his two years with the Cavaliers.

Jared Sullinger and Perry Jones III are also up for that extension, but Zeller is probably the more likely of the three to get his deal done by the October 31 deadline, although there’s no rush from the Celtics.

Why? Because the frontcourt is packed. Zeller is coming back with Sullinger (who has had his injury and weight problems) and Kelly Olynyk, while Amir Johnson and David Lee have also joined the team. Except for Lee, all of them have a long term value, which means Zeller might have to prove that he can advance further before getting that extension, although waiting too long might end up costing the Celtics a lot of money.

Zeller is a very good finisher near the rim and runs well for his size, but he isn’t the best of rim-protector, a problem in general for the Celtics, and his rebounding could be better as well.

The Celtics signed Jae Crowder, a restricted free agent, to a five-year, $35 million deal this offseason, rewarding him for his strong play after coming back from Dallas via trade. Is that the kind of deal Zeller can have to look forward to? Seven footers usually don’t need to do much to get above-average money, but it’s clear the Celtics aren’t 100% sure about him, or they would have re-signed him by now.

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