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Celtics free agent stategy comes into focus

12.01.11 at 11:51 am ET
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Team president Danny Ainge and coach Doc Rivers met the media for the first time since late June and while there wasn’t much in the way of news, there was confirmation of three elements of Ainge’s free agent strategy.

1. Ainge won’t use the amnesty provision: This was expected, but there was at least a theoretical possibility that the team could use it on Jermaine O’Neal and get far enough under the luxury tax line to consider using the full mid-level exception.

2. The Celtics will likely use the taxpayer mid-level: There are three different free agent markets. There’s one for teams with cap space, one for teams that can use the full mid-level exception — a four-year deal starting at $5 million — and one for teams stuck with the taxpayer mid-level –  a three-year deal starting at $3 million.

They are already priced out of the market for players like Tyson Chandler and Nene and that could leave them out on high-scoring guards like Jamal Crawford and Jason Richardson. They will have to hope the market shakes out those big deals first and lets them compete with other contenders for veterans looking to sacrifice money for a chance at a championship.

3. Size is their biggest priority: No kidding, you say? Well, it’s also true that the Celtics need bench scoring just as much as they need height but with an aging O’Neal and Garnett manning the middle, Ainge has to find quality depth. Expect names like Joel Przybilla, Kwame Brown and Chuck Hayes to be mentioned prominently.

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