|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.
|Report: Phil Pressey contract guaranteed for 2014-15||07.15.14 at 10:43 pm ET|
The Celtics have seen enough to believe little Phil Pressey can be a big part of their immediate future.
According to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, Pressey’s contract will be guaranteed next season after passing the midnight Tuesday deadline.
Barring late trade offer that forces Celts to use Pressey – and nothing’s in the works – his contract for next yr will be guaranteed.
‘ Steve Bulpett (@SteveBHoop) July 15, 2014
President of basketball operations Danny Ainge last year signed the 5-foot-11 Pressey, Chris Johnson and Chris Babb to separate four-year non-guaranteed contracts. Under terms of the contracts, Pressey, Johnson and Babb will be paid under a million dollars annually through 2016-17. Pressey made approximately $490,000 last season, the rookie minimum.
After going undrafted in the 2013 NBA Draft, Pressey signed with the Celtics to play in the 2013 Orlando Summer League. He was no stranger to the Celtics. Pressey’s AAU team had practiced at the team facility in Waltham where the Celtics first had eyes on him. His performance in the Summer League led to Pressey signing a deal on July 22, 2013.
Pressey became valuable as the Celtics began the season without four-time All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo, who was still rehabbing his ACL, torn in Jan. 2013. Pressey made his regular season debut in the 2013-14 Celtics season opener Oct. 30 at the Air Canada Centre against the Toronto. He did not play in the next three games, but after the Celtics got off to an 0-4 start, head coach Brad Stevens shuffled the lineup.
On Nov. 6, at home against the Utah Jazz, Pressey recorded the first three assists, first steal and first field goal of his career. On Jan. 22, with Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley and Jerryd Bayless all sitting out and Pressey making his second career start, Pressey scored a career-high 20 points against Washington before fouling out.
He posted a double-double on April 5 against the Detroit Pistons with 12 points and a career-high 11 assists. On April 11, he had another career high with 13 assists as part of a 10-point double double against the Charlotte Bobcats. He matched the 13 assists the following night against the Cleveland Cavaliers. He finished the season averaging 2.8 points and 3.2 assists in 15.1 minutes in 75 games for the Celtics.
This month, Pressey traveled with the Celtics to Orlando for the 2014 NBA Summer League, where he averaged 10.6 points, 3.6 assists and 2.2 steals per game in five games.
Before the Celtics headed to Florida to take part in the Orlando Summer League, the restricted free agent and the team came to terms on a four-year deal worth a reported $32 million. On Tuesday, the team made the signing official, but did not disclose the financial terms.
“We see Avery as a key part of our chase of Banner 18,” Danny Ainge, Celtics President of Basketball Operations, said in a statement. “He keeps getting better and is still far from reaching his ceiling. We’re ecstatic to have him back.”
The Philadelphia 76ers were among the teams rumored to be interested in the defensive shutdown specialist, likely driving up his price. The other factor that also figured in the $8 million per season pricetag was the uncertain future of Rajon Rondo with the Celtics. If the Celtics come to an agreement to deal Rondo, they did not want to be left without an established guard in the backcourt. Bradley and Rondo currently lead a backcourt group that also includes Marcus Smart, Phil Pressey, Chris Babb, Keith Bogans and Chris Johnson.
The Boston Herald reported that Bradley was in town Tuesday for his physical and to sign his new deal that begins with an annual salary just north of $7 million per season and escalates from there. The paper also reported that Bradley’s trip to town likely ends speculation that the Celtics were considering a sign-and-trade similar to the one that sent Kris Humphries to Washington this week.
The 6-foot-2 guard, considered the top defender on the team and one of the best defensive guards in the East, is coming off a breakout 2013-14 season where he recorded career-highs in points per game (14.9), rebounds per game (3.8), minutes (1855), field goals made (361), three-pointers made (79) and free throws made (90).
Bradley matched a career-high with 28 points against Brooklyn on March 21 and led the Celtics in scoring in 17 games and recorded 20 or more points in 16 contests. He recorded his first career double-double when he recorded 13 points and a career-high 10 rebounds against New York on Dec. 8.
Selected with the 19th overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft, Bradley recorded his 1,000th career point in the opening game of the season against Toronto on October 30.