While we have been down this road many times before, it’s finally looking like there will be an NBA season. Maybe.
At the risk of jinxing what has been a process loaded with pitfalls, here’s a look at where the Celtics roster stands if/when the lockout ends and peace is at hand.
With only six players under contract before the lockout, team president Danny Ainge will have his work cut out for him as he attempts to build the Celtics roster this season, without cutting into the team’s anticipated cap space in 2012.
PLAYERS UNDER CONTRACT
Rajon Rondo: The point guard is in the second-year of a five-year, $55 million contract and if Rondo can either continue to improve, or reach a level of consistent play, this will be one of the great bargains in the league. It could also make him a valuable trade piece down the line, but that’s getting too far ahead of the game.
Ray Allen: The 36-year-old picked up his $10 million option before the lockout. This may not be the end of the line for Allen in a Celtics uniform because his shooting ability has aged as well as he has.
Paul Pierce: The franchise cornerstone has another year left on his deal after this season with options for the following seasons. It’s hard to imagine him in any other uniform.
Kevin Garnett: This is the big decision for next season when Garnett’s $21 million contract comes off the books. Any guesses as to what the future holds for Garnett are premature, but his expiring deal is the key to the Celtics cap space in 2012.
Jermaine O’Neal: With one year and $6 million left on his contract, O’Neal represents great value at the center position. If, and it’s a big if, he can stay healthy.
Avery Bradley: The rookie season was a wash, but he and the team are expecting much bigger things in the future. Carving our a role in the rotation would be a positive development.
JaJuan Johnson: The first-round pick provides height and youth, two areas the Celtics desperately need.
E’Twaun Moore: The other Purdue product will get his opportunity and the Celtics have not been shy about giving experienced second-round picks a chance to contribute, but he’ll have to earn it.
Gilbert Brown: The Celtics have no rights on Brown, but the undrafted free agent is clearly in their sights.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENT
Jeff Green: The best-case scenario for the Celtics is if Green signs his one-year tender offer and either shows that he can be a valuable part of the next generation or become cap space in 2012. A long-term deal at a reasonable rate is another possibility.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
Glen Davis: There have been times when Davis has been a valuable member of the rotation and a quasi-starter. There have also been times when he hasn’t delivered. There’s a place for Davis on this team for the right deal, but both parties could seek a fresh start.
Delonte West: It’s not a foregone conclusion that West returns, but this is a great fit for him and his abilities.
Nenad Krstic: The veteran center signed a two-year deal with CSKA Moscow and the Celtics do not expect him to return.
Troy Murphy, Sasha Pavlovic, Carlos Arroyo: It’s anywhere on the scale from maybe to doubtful that any of the other three free agents return. That will depend entirely on the market and where Ainge chooses to direct his resources.