|Irish Coffee: If not Kevin Love, then who?||07.30.14 at 9:09 am ET|
Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo and trade target Kevin Love arguably comprise the two top free agents on the NBA market next summer. While the possibility of Love coming to Boston has faded, the C’s front office continues to pursue a second star to pair with Rondo.
A look at the remaining talent in the 2015 free agent class may offer a clue about who Celtics president Danny Ainge & Co. consider a potential Garfunkel to Rondo’s Simon. The C’s have the salary cap space to target anyone on the list, and stars signed beyond the coming year are rarely traded during the season.
Let’s start by crossing off the list LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Luol Deng — all of whom have player options for 2015-16 and never looked Boston’s way this summer. Now, let’s sort the cream of the crop into four tiers.
|How Evan Turner’s signing impacts Celtics||07.22.14 at 8:56 am ET|
Four years after NBA experts argued whether Evan Turner or John Wall deserved the No. 1 overall selection in 2010, some of those same folks are debating Turner’s value in relation to undrafted free agent Chris Johnson.
After all, the former No. 2 pick’s agreement with the C’s likely signals the end for Johnson and fellow non-guaranteed signees Chris Babb and Keith Bogans.
Terms of the deal have not been made public, but the Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett reports Turner will earn a portion of the team’s mid-level exception. Upon cutting Johnson, Babb and Bogans, the Celtics would fall $5.1 million below the luxury tax, opening the 15th and final roster spot for the 25-year-old. The non-taxpayer mid-level exception for the 2014-15 season is $5.3 million.
Most likely, Turner’s deal will expire in the next two years, allowing him to improve his value before the NBA’s new TV deal sends the salary cap soaring in 2016.
The Ohio State product’s value has never been lower. He only netted Danny Granger‘s expiring contract for the 76ers in February and didn’t warrant an $8.7 million qualifying offer from the Pacers this summer. Acquired to bolster Indiana’s hopes of an NBA Finals run, Turner ultimately lost his bench role to the immortal Rasual Butler in the Eastern Conference finals. No player who earned as many minutes as Turner (2,457) had a worse PER last season (12.4), and his true shooting percentage has never eclipsed 50 percent.
Turner isn’t a complete bust. Compiling respectable career averages of 11.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists, he started for a Sixers squad that nearly took out the Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals in 2012. He’s averaged 14.4 points (50.6 TS%), 5.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists in 14 career games against the C’s.
|Wyc Grousbeck: Celtics hoped for bigger moves||07.20.14 at 1:20 pm ET|
The best place for Celtics news these days seems to come from following the Red Sox. After running into Kris Humphries at the MLB All-Star Game, our own Rob Bradford bumped into C’s owner Wyc Grousbeck at Fenway Park.
Grousbeck, of course, provided the now infamous “fireworks” comment earlier this year, and he’s just as disappointed as most Celtics fans about the team’s failure to pair another star with Rajon Rondo so far this summer.
“We had definitely hoped to try to make bigger moves this offseason, to be honest,” he said. “Having said that, it takes two partners to make a trade, so we focused on longterm trying to build the club. We think we’re a better team now — positioned for the future, some new young talent and even more draft picks — but it’s been a patient summer so far, and I’m not always the most patient guy.”
Without saying as much, Grousbeck vaguely referenced the Kevin Love sweepstakes. As rumors link Love’s future with the Cavaliers, the C’s owner preferred instead to focus on his biggest positive of this summer: Brad Stevens.
|Report: Celtics legend Bill Russell collapses||07.17.14 at 3:32 pm ET|
Celtics legend Bill Russell collapsed during a speaking engagement in Lake Tahoe, according to WCVB-TV’s Scott Isaacs. He is reportedly conscious and “doing OK.” Russell, 80, underwent open-heart surgery in 2012.
— Scott Isaacs (@ScottIsaacs) July 17, 2014
|Where 2014-15 Celtics roster stands||07.16.14 at 10:52 am ET|
As the clock struck midnight, Phil Pressey joined a list of 14 Celtics under guaranteed contract, leaving only one roster spot for summer league standouts Chris Johnson, Chris Babb, Colton Iverson and Mike Moser.
Obviously, Danny Ainge could have a trade or 10 coming down the pike, but the Celtics president of basketball operations currently has more than enough players available to fill out another hodgepodge of a roster in 2014-15.
Barring another deal, here’s the current salary structure for the coming season.
Rajon Rondo: $12.9 million
Gerald Wallace: $10.1M
Jeff Green: $9.2M
Marcus Thornton: $8.6M
Avery Bradley: $7.2M
Brandon Bass: $6.9M
Keith Bogans: $5.3M (non-guaranteed)
Joel Anthony: $3.8M
Marcus Smart: $3.2M
Vitor Faverani: $2.1M
Kelly Olynyk: $2.1M
Tyler Zeller: $1.7M
James Young: $1.7M
Jared Sullinger: $1.4M
Chris Johnson: $0.9M (non-guaranteed)
Chris Babb: $0.8M (non-guaranteed)
Phil Pressey: $0.8M
TOTAL: $78.7M ($71.7M guaranteed)
While Ainge will do his darnedest to pair Kevin Love or another franchise-altering player with Rondo before conversely considering deals for his All-Star point guard, it becomes more likely with each passing week that the Celtics will enter the season with 15 of these 17 players under contract.
Even without the trio of Bogans, Johnson and Babb, the Celtics are $8.6 million over the salary cap and $5.1 million under the luxury tax level. (Ainge would love to deal Bogans’ attractive $5.3 million non-guaranteed contract before cutting ties with the veteran waste of cap space.) Unless the C’s somehow become playoff contenders, they’re not paying that tax, leaving only the mid-level exception, bi-annual exception or minimum contracts to add free agents.
Unless Ainge can work his magic on a sign-and-trade for Greg Monroe, the Celtics will whiff on the NBA’s impressive 2014 free agent class. That’s strike two after the lottery pick came up sixth in the equally remarkable 2014 draft class, by the way. The trade market is all that’s left before the C’s strike out looking this summer.
|Kris Humphries: ‘I could definitely’ return to Celtics||07.14.14 at 8:50 pm ET|
While a recent Boston Globe report suggested the C’s were “backing off” from attempts to re-sign the 29-year-old big man, Humphries claims he’s still open to returning to Boston next season.
“I could definitely see it,” Humphries told Bradford. “My agent handles most of the stuff with free agency. We’ll see what happens. I definitely could see it. I played out last year and didn’t look to jump to a playoff team before the end of the year, so I definitely enjoyed my time there, and we’ll see what happens.”
“When I first went there, I never thought I’d ever play in Boston,” he said. “That was like the last place where I ever thought I’d be putting on a jersey, but the fans were great. They embraced you if you played hard, and the coaching staff and everyone was awesome.”
From the moment Humphries arrived early to training camp, he won over fans inside the Celtics organization and out as a stable veteran presence off the court despite inconsistent minutes on it. He averaged 8.4 points (55.2 TS%) and 5.9 rebounds in just 19.9 minutes, leading the team in PER (18.2). In a crowded frontcourt featuring Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk and Brandon Bass, Humphries made the best of a bad situation on a 25-win team.
“The fans are great in Boston,” said Humphries, who naturally wore a Twins cap in his hometown of Minneapolis. “Really, no matter what team you look at, the support is awesome. Obviously, you want to make the playoffs. That’s obviously a little disappointing, but it was a year where I feel like I got better as a player, working on different parts of my game. Sometimes you’ve just gotta take certain things from a situation where you don’t make the playoffs.”
The Celtics currently have 13 players under guaranteed contract, potentially leaving two open roster spots pending decisions on Keith Bogans, Phil Pressey, Chris Johnson and Chris Babb. Further trades also could open up a spot for Humphries. Surely, he’ll be taking a pay cut wherever he ends up, but his future in Boston may depend on the number of suitors phoning his agent, Arn Tellem. Regardless, Humphries envisions a bright future for the C’s.
“A lot of free agency is just cap space and a chance to win,” said Humphries, who has played for five teams in his 10 NBA seasons, “so Boston’s always going to have a competitive team, and we’ll see what happens.”
|Report: Evan Turner ‘received interest’ from Celtics||07.14.14 at 11:20 am ET|
Evan Turner has received interest from Boston and Minnesota, a source told ESPN.
‘ Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) July 14, 2014
The second overall pick in 2010, Turner’s value may be at an all-time low since seeing a serious dip in production after being traded from the 76ers to the Pacers this past season. He averaged just 7.1 points (41.1 FG%), 3.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 27 games down the stretch for the Eastern Conference semifinalists.
Despite Philadelphia’s willingness to dump Turner for little in return (Danny Granger‘s expiring contract and a second-round pick), the Ohio State product has shown flashes of why he was picked behind John Wall in 2010. Turner also has a longstanding friendship with Celtics big and fellow former Buckeye Jared Sullinger.
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