|Celtics free agent stategy comes into focus||12.01.11 at 11:51 am ET|
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.
|Report: Celtics wouldn’t be able to get Chris Paul to sign long-term extension||11.30.11 at 11:37 am ET|
There are reports on the web that the Celtics have offered Rajon Rondo to the Hornets for Chris Paul, who is due to be a free agent after this season. According to ESPN’s Chris Broussard, the C’s pursuit of Paul is futile because, he tweeted: CP will not sign a long-term [extension] with Celtics, according to source close to situation.
Broussard tweeted Tuesday that Paul wants to play out the season and became a free agent, with the Knicks his first choice as a landing spot. He wrote that Paul also would consider the Clippers, but the Clippers are more focused on Dwight Howard.
|Irish Coffee: Rajon Rondo rumors, fact and fiction||at 9:14 am ET|
When rumors started flying that team president Danny Ainge has included Rondo in trade discussions, there was always only one player who could possibly be on the other end of that conversation: Chris Paul.
With nobody to take over the reins in Rondo’s absence, the Celtics would have to land another point guard in return for the two-time All-Star. And considering the attractiveness of Rondo’s contract (4 years, $44 million remaining), that floor general would have to be decidedly better than Rajon Rondo.
In my mind, that list includes two names: Derrick Rose and Paul. There is no way in hell the Bulls are trading the reigning NBA MVP, so that leaves Paul, whose impending free agency puts him on the bargaining table.
Sports Illustrated’s Sam Amick confirmed that notion on Tuesday, citing numerous sources in claiming Ainge “is highly motivated” to land the 2005-06 NBA Rookie of the Year. Colleague Paul Flannery explained why the exchange makes painstaking sense but may require a third team to get done. And Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reported the C’s have made calls to the Pacers for just that reason.
The 26-year-old Paul has averaged 18.7 points (47.1 FG%, 35.9 3P%, 85.3 FT%), 9.9 assists and 2.4 steals in six NBA seasons, decidedly better numbers than the 25-year-old Rondo (10.7 points, 48.6 FG%, 24.2 3P%, 62.2 FT%, 7.6 assists, 1.9 steals) on a decidedly worse team.
While Rondo is one of the five best point guards in the NBA, Paul is one of the five best players in the league. That’s why Ainge is exploring the trade. And if it falls through, as ESPN.com’s Ric Bucher suggested it would, there’s nobody more stubborn than Rondo to prove Ainge, me and everybody else wrong.
|How the proposed CBA affects the Celtics: Free agency||11.28.11 at 12:01 am ET|
While we wait for the players and owners to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement, we’ll be taking a look at how various parts of the proposal could affect the Celtics. If you’d like to check out the full proposal, SI’s Sam Amick obtained a copy and posted it here.
First up: Free agency
I. CAP EXCEPTIONS
Let’s establish a couple of realities for the Celtics this season. 1. They will be over the cap. 2. They will be at or near the luxury tax.
This is important because there are new realities for tax teams in the proposed CBA, the biggest being the use of the mid-level exception. Under the old agreement any team could use the full MLE amount on one or more players. That’s how the Celtics were able to sign James Posey and Eddie House in 2007 and Rasheed Wallace (2009) and Jermaine O’Neal (2010) even though they were over the cap. They also used what’s known as the bi-annual exception to sign Marquis Daniels in 2009.
Here’s what’s different (quoted directly from the proposal).
- Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception: Set at $5M in years 1 and 2, growing 3% annually thereafter; maximum contract length of 4 years; can be used every year.
- Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception: Set at $3M in year 1, growing 3% annually thereafter; maximum contract length of 3 years; can be used every year.
- Bi-Annual Exception can only be used by non-taxpayers. Amount set at $1.9M in year 1, growing 3% annually thereafter. Exception cannot be used in 2 consecutive years and has maximum contract length of 2 years (same as under 2005 CBA).
Assuming the Celtics will be a tax team, they would have to use the smaller MLE and would lose the ability to use the bi-annual exception. There’s another wrinkle here as reported by SI’s Zach Lowe:
“Every team can use the full mid-level exception, provided doing so does not take the team more than $4 million over the tax line. If you use the full mid-level to get to or approach that barrier looming $4 million over the tax line, you cannot cross it by re-signing your own free agents via Larry Bird Rights.”
So, it seems likely that team president Danny Ainge will be looking for free agent help armed with only the $3 million exception and the veterans minimum to attract free agents. That’s not the worst thing in the world because Ainge would like to keep the books clean for next summer and the last thing he needs is a $5 million contract hanging out on their balance sheet. There will also be lots of veteran players looking for contracts on Dec. 9 who might be willing to sign on for one year with a contender.
II. CONTRACT LENGTHS AND BIRD RIGHTS
- Maximum contract length of 5 years for Bird players and 4 years for other free agents.
- Maximum annual increases of 7.5% for Bird and Early Bird players, and 4.5% for other players.
- Period for a player’s prior team to match an Offer Sheet that a Restricted Free Agent receives from a new team shortened from 7 to 3 days. (NOTE: The last bullet point affects Green as a restricted free agent.)
As before, players can get the best return by re-signing with their teams when they hit free agency. Of the Celtics’ free agents, three have the most value: Green, Davis and Delonte West.
The question for Ainge is how much value do they represent to the Celtics, not just for this year but beyond? One of the late tweaks to the proposal was keeping the sign-and-trade option. Beyond that, teams can use the sign-and-trade mechanism for the next two years regardless of their cap and tax situation. Here’s the language:
- Except during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons, teams are prohibited from acquiring a free agent in a sign-and-trade if their team salary post-transaction would exceed the tax level by more than $4 million. The maximum contract length for a sign-and-trade is 4 years, and maximum annual increases are 4.5%.
Davis, in particular, could have value in a sign-and-trade.
III. AMNESTY CUTS
This is a big one to watch because there could be a handful of players hitting the open market who might be willing to go to a team like the Celtics — or the Lakers, Heat, etc.
Here’s the rule:
- Each team permitted to waive 1 player prior to any season of the CBA (only for contracts in place at the inception of the CBA) and have 100% of the player’s salary removed from team salary for Cap and Tax purposes.
The only Celtic who could potentially fit in this scenario would be Jermaine O’Neal who has one year and $6.2 million left on his deal. That could potentially allow them to use the full MLE, but seems unlikely considering the short time he has left under contract and the reality that cutting the only legitimate center on a team that needs at least one, if not two more centers would be a major risk.
Here’s the potentially crazy part:
- A modified waiver process will be utilized for players waived pursuant to the Amnesty rule, under which teams with Room under the Cap can submit competing offers to assume some but not all of the player’s remaining contract. If a player’s contract is claimed in this manner, the remaining portion of the player’s salary will continue to be paid by the team that waived him.
In other words, teams that are under the cap would get first crack at Amnesty players via waivers. That adds a whole other layer of intrigue to the process, but if the player passes through waivers he’d become an unrestricted free agent and you can bet the Celtics will be watching this list intently for unexpected bargains.
Free agency is tentatively scheduled to begin on Dec. 9, the same date as training camps will open. It will make for a hectic period of player movement and with so many roster spots available, the Celtics will be scrambling to fill those vacancies. If form holds, it seems likely Ainge will be looking to fill the roster gaps with a mix of veterans on short-term contracts.
|10 questions post-NBA lockout Celtics must answer||11.26.11 at 4:34 pm ET|
Now that the NBA lockout is all but over, we can talk actual basketball again. No more exhibition games. No more Paul Pierce sightings at the World Series of Poker. No more overseas discussions. Should lawyers on both sides approve the tentative agreement as expected in the next three days to a week, both training camp and free agency are scheduled to begin on Dec. 9, leading up to a Celtics at Knicks season opener on Christmas Day.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, head coach Doc Rivers and the rest of the C’s brass face a ton of questions over the next month. Here are 10 of the biggest ones they’ll have to answer.
10. How will the Celtics fill out the remainder of the roster?
The C’s currently have just six players under contract: The Big Four of Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen as well as center Jermaine O’Neal and second-year guard Avery Bradley. That leaves nine open spots on the 15-man roster.
Jeff Green has received a $5.9 million qualifying offer that makes him a restricted free agent, and the remaining eight players from the team that lost a five-game Eastern Conference semifinal series to the Heat are free agents. Only Nenad Krstic, who signed a two-year deal with CSKA Moscow that did not include an NBA out clause for this season, is off limits.
First-round draft pick JaJuan Johnson is a lock to land one of those nine open slots, while second-round selection E’Twaun Moore is a strong candidate to make the roster. Johnson has been working out in his hometown of Indianapolis during the offseason, and Moore has averaged 9.5 points in six appearances for Italy’s Benetton Treviso over the past two months.
Prior to the lockout, undrafted Pitt swingman Gilbert Brown was on the team’s radar, so he has a chance to join the Purdue pair on the bench as well.
Assuming Green remains in Boston, Ainge will at the very least have to find veteran players capable of playing significant backup minutes at center, power forward and the two guard positions. Re-signing combo guard Delonte West would go a long way in cementing the latter, and we’ll be examining the free-agent options at each position throughout this week.
9. Is the annual mid-level exception still available to the Celtics? Read the rest of this entry »
|Irish Coffee: Rajon Rondo ‘frustrating,’ says Shaq||11.08.11 at 12:45 pm ET|
Jackie MacMullan’s latest, “Shaq Uncut: My Story,” co-written with Shaquille O’Neal, hits bookstores on Nov. 15. Excerpts about Shaq’s tenures in Los Angeles, Cleveland, Miami and Boston have already leaked.
We know about his claims that he told Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge he would never return from the Achilles injury, that he almost punched Glen “Big Baby” Davis for being selfish and that he believed Nate Robinson‘s obsession with Twitter put him in Doc Rivers‘ doghouse.
We also know that everything Shaq claims should be taken with a grain of salt, so keep that in mind when you read the following revelations, as relayed by the Herald’s Dan Duggan on Twitter.
- Shaq said he was really interested in [Rajon] Rondo. Said Rondo was always a topic of convos. Very stubborn and won’t change.
- Vets told Shaq how important but frustrating Rondo was. Vets liked when Rondo would get put in his place b/c he ticked them off at times.
- Shaq did say Rondo earned the respect of the Big 3 by his defense and passing. Rondo and Doc had “respectful beefs” over plays/decisions.
- Shaq said Baby drove Doc crazy. No surprise there. Said KG [Kevin Garnett] wouldn’t confront Baby; KG has mellowed later in his career.
- Shaq said practices were very competitive. [Von] Wafer–Delonte [West] wasn’t the only skirmish.
- Shaq said he told Danny not to do Perk [Kendrick Perkins] trade b/c he didn’t know if he’d be back. Said trade was strictly biz. C’s weren’t going to pay Perk.
- Shaq said KG’s legs/knees were all screwed up last season. Said Ray [Allen] is a future GM, already like a front office guy. [Paul] Pierce is the leader.
- Shaq had very high praise for Doc, positive memories of Boston.
- Shaq also blatantly admits to manipulating the media/public. Says he made up a story about Bill Russell brokering peace w/ Kobe [Bryant] in 2006.
- Shaq shook Kobe’s hand before the game and when asked said Russell told him to do it. Said he made that up to boost Russell’s legacy.
- One last thing from Shaq’s chapter on Boston is how misleading the Celtics were on his injury.
|Irish Coffee: Paul Pierce to the NBA rescue!||10.04.11 at 12:20 pm ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
Only two players attended Monday’s NBA collective bargaining session with commissioner David Stern and the NBA brass. One was National Basketball Players Association president Derek Fisher. The other? Paul Pierce.
Pierce isn’t a member of the union’s executive committee, although CBS Sports columnist Ken Berger suggested the Celtics captain and player representative has expressed interest in becoming the Joe Biden to Fisher’s Barack Obama. Regardless, NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver cited Pierce as someone who actually brought tangible ideas to the table during labor discussions in New York City over the weekend.
Not only is Pierce expected to join Fisher again on Tuesday, but Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett have reportedly been invited to join a small group of players in what might be the final negotiating window before the NBA starts canceling regular-season games. Imagine that. Lakers and Celtics on the same side of the ball.
Pierce’s presence is only magnified by the fact that his agent, Jeff Schwartz, is among a handful who encourage union decertification and drafted a letter urging the players not to accept a revenue share less than 52 percent — six points higher than Stern’s current offer and two points above what some believe could seal a deal.
Are those final two percentage points — a total of $80 or so million — worth destroying the momentum that two Celtics-Lakers finals and a Heat firestorm created over the last few seasons? It’s hard to imagine Pierce & Co. allowing these negotiations to devolve into decertification, as that could cost the league the 2011-12 NBA season. These are the issues that Pierce, Fisher, Garnett, Bryant and their colleagues face.
My how far Pierce has come since he got ejected from Game 6 of a first-round series loss to the Pacers in the 2005 NBA Playoffs, swung his Celtics jersey over his head at the Conseco Fieldhouse crowd and showed up to the post-game press conference with his head wrapped in a faux bandage.
If the 2008 NBA Finals MVP was Pierce’s defining moment on the court, this could be his moment of Truth off it. He could cement his legacy as not only a Hall of Famer but a power player in the NBA’s future for years to come.
For more on Tuesday’s pivotal NBA labor negotiations, WEEI.com’s Paul Flannery sets the stage perfectly.
Latest from Bleacher Report
- Austin Ainge Offers Window to C's Pre-Draft Process
- Trade Possibilities for C's with Draft Approaching
- Latest Buzz Surrounding Jamal Crawford, Kristaps Porzingis, Celtics'...
- Latest NBA Trade Rumors, Buzz
- Ranking Celtics' Biggest NBA Draft Needs
- Buzz Surrounding Ty Lawson, Celtics Draft Plans and More
- Realistic Targets for Celtics to Chase During Offseason