|Irish Coffee: Danny Ainge’s masterful Celtics summer||07.20.12 at 3:48 pm ET|
How do you think David West is feeling right about now? If you’ll recall, when he snubbed the Celtics for the Pacers in free agency last summer, he said, “In Boston, everybody is kinda realistic about the window that the Celtics have. Me looking at where I’m at, I think my window is a little bit wider.”
Since then, after watching the Celtics take the Heat to the brink in the Eastern Conference finals, West has seen his Pacers match Roy Hibbert‘s max contract (4 years, $58 million) — dedicating roughly $36 million annually to a “Big Three” of Hibbert, Danny Granger and George Hill — trade Darren Collison for Ian Mahinmi, and sign Gerald Green (3 years, $10 million) and D.J. Augustin (1 year, $3.5 million) as their biggest free agent splashes.
Meanwhile, Celtics president Danny Ainge painted his best masterpiece since acquiring Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in 2007 for Al Jefferson, the No. 5 overall NBA draft pick and a bunch of garbage. Not willing to call Ainge’s offseason a masterpiece? Take a look at what he had to work with this summer.
|Chris Wilcox: ‘This is a blessing for me even to be here’||07.14.12 at 2:29 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Among teammates, coaches and even owner Stephen Pagliuca, Chris Wilcox is known to be a fun-loving man.
So, it was with great humor and appreciation that Pagliuca listened to Wilcox tell him recently that if only he had been able to play against Miami, things might have turned out differently for the Celtics.
“It’ll be even more special to have all these guys on board and we’ll win that seventh game against Miami this year,” Pagliuca said with a smile and chuckle. “Chris said he would’ve made the difference and I think he was right.”
It was no laughing matter in March when Wilcox became the second Celtics player in three months to undergo heart surgery after being diagnosed with a heart irregularity.
He was officially waived by the Celtics on March 23, but like with Jeff Green, who had heart valve surgery two months earlier, there was an unwritten agreement that the team would offer him a contract once he was medically cleared to resume basketball activity. Saturday was that time, as Wilcox, a much-needed veteran big man in the C’s front court, was formally re-introduced in a press conference at the team’s practice facility.
“I’m good. I’m back now. I’m full contact,” Wilcox said. “I can do everything, lifting weights, just to a minimum though, lifting weights. Everything else, I’m back and I’m ready.
“By training camp, I’ll definitely be full-go. I’ve been working hard all summer, trying to get back right, being prepared and it’s going along well.”
What’s been the biggest challenge of training since heart surgery?
“Cardio. Your cardio, your wind,” Wilcox said. “You have to re-train your whole body over again after surgery like that. So, I think the main thing for me is the my cardio so I’ve just been running, trying to get my wind up. That’s the main thing right now.
“This is a blessing,” Wilcox continued. “This is a blessing for me even to be here right now. So, I’m just going to take full advantage of all my situations and all the opportunities that have been coming my way. And it’s a blessing to come back to a team and be able to pick up where I left off. Read the rest of this entry »
|Jeff Green returns, Celtics’ future takes shape||07.08.12 at 1:21 pm ET|
There are two main takeaways from the deal. First, That’s a lot of money for a player without a natural position, especially one coming off surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm. Second, Green’s deal means that he is officially part of the core, and while the focus has been on bringing the band together, the Celtics actually have managed to get a bit younger this offseason.
This is an important move for team president Danny Ainge, who has invested much time and energy in the forward. He was with Green throughout the medical process last winter, an effort that played a significant factor in the new deal, agent David Falk said.
“The Celtics have developed a very special bond between Jeff and the team,” Falk said. “This is where he wanted to be. There was a high level of good will.”
Green and the Celtics are confident that he will be able to continue his career with no further complications and before we get to the actual basketball implications, take a moment to remember the anxiety that existed last winter when his heart condition was detected. His career is back on track and that’s an exceptional development in his young life.
The trade that brought Green to Boston was jarring for everyone involved, from Kendrick Perkins to Nenad Krstic, but few have been affected as much as Green. He went from getting consistent minutes on a young team to an undefined role on a veteran crew.
Green was around the team for most of last season, even going so far as it sit on the bench for one game. While there is much to be worked out on the court, Green is no longer in unfamiliar territory. That’s all to the good, but on the court there are question about how coach Doc Rivers will use the versatile forward and whether he’s worth the kind of big-money, long-term deal. Read the rest of this entry »
|Brandon Bass re-signs with Celtics||07.05.12 at 5:00 pm ET|
Brandon Bass never wanted to leave, and now he won’t have to. The veteran power forward agreed to a three-year deal with the Celtics, per a league source, filling a major hole in the team’s front line. Bass told the Herald that the deal was for $20 million total, but it’s unclear how the deal breaks down in terms of an annual salary.
Using reported figures for Bass, Kevin Garnett and free agent guard Jason Terry while adding in rookie contracts for first-round picks Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo, the Celtics have committed an estimated $56 million to nine players.
The key word there is estimated. It’s important to note that new contracts can’t be officially signed and finalized until July 11 when the league completes its internal audit and arrives at a salary cap number as well as a luxury tax threshold.
By using the full mid-level exception to sign Terry, the Celtics would commit themselves to staying under the salary tax apron, which is expected to be a little more than $74 million. Once a team goes over the apron, it can’t use the full mid-level or the bi-annual exception and the cap becomes a hard cap.
Yes, this all gets confusing, but as it stands the Celtics have somewhere in the vicinity of $18 million to complete their roster with Jeff Green and Ray Allen still unsigned, as well as other internal free agents like Mickael Pietrus and Greg Stiemsma. It’s also worth noting that the Celtics have E’Twaun Moore and Sean Williams signed to non-guaranteed minimum contracts.
Allen met with the Heat on Thursday and the Associated Press reported that he would spend the night in Miami after a planned meeting with the Clippers on Friday was canceled in the wake of the Clippers agreeing to terms with Jamal Crawford. With Los Angeles out of the picture it appears to be a two-team race for Allen, although the Grizzlies have also expressed interest.
Miami is limited to offering Allen the taxpayer mid-level, which starts around $3.1 million per year. The Celtics have offered a two-year, $12 million deal. The Boston Herald reported that they could include a no-trade or a trade kicker in the deal.
As for Green, his agent David Falk said that he was optimistic a deal would get done, although it might not happen until next week. Falk reiterated that Green’s goal was to return to Boston. The Celtics had Green signed to a one-year deal for $9 million last season before an aortic aneurysm was detected, so it’s not out of line to expect a new deal to be constructed along similar parameters.
In other words, it’s still possible for the Celtics to bring back Allen and Green and still have enough left to complete the roster, but it will be tight. The deal for Bass is another strong step in that direction. Locking up a starting power forward for less than $7 million a year is an exceptionally savvy signing.
Bass averaged a career-high 12.5 points and 6.2 rebounds for the Celtics this past season after he was acquired from the Magic in a sign-and-trade involving Glen Davis. After beginning the season as the team’s sixth man, Bass joined the starting lineup for good after the All-Star break and helped the Celtics surge back into contention.
One of the game’s top mid-range-shooting big men, Bass made 48 percent of his shots from 16-23 feet, a percentage that put him on par with big man All-Stars like Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki and Celtics teammate Kevin Garnett. The Celtics love his ability to make shots because that helps open up the court for Rajon Rondo‘s slashing game.
With Bass back in place, Garnett will presumably stay at the center position although their frontline still needs work before it can be completed. Still, the Celtics’ lineup is beginning to take shape.
|What Kevin Garnett’s return means for Celtics||06.30.12 at 12:18 pm ET|
Kevin Garnett arrived in Boston five years ago with the promise of rebirth for a franchise that had grown stale. He was a savior then — plucked from Minnesota for almost half a roster’s worth of young players and draft picks ‘ and he was treated as such.
On a team of prideful individuals, Garnett’s persona stood out as the defining one. Dedicated to the point of insanity and private to the point of aloofness, Garnett kept close watch over his basketball family and kept everyone else at bay. Something changed over the course of those five years, culminating last season in a Garnett that was slightly more accessible and endearingly human.
No one could have predicted five years ago that Garnett would ultimately become an institution, but here we are. He’s become one of us: a Bostonian in more than just an address and a Celtic in more than just a uniform. When his contract expired, there was never a question of going anywhere else, it was only a matter of whether he’d come back for more.
We have our answer, as Garnett will sign a new deal, reportedly for three years and $34 million, roughly half the monetary value of his last contract, and assuring he will be in a Celtics uniform for almost a decade.
Garnett’s new deal sets in motion an offseason that now takes on a defined shape. The Celtics are still contenders, and team president Danny Ainge has flexibility to build the rest of the roster. Salary cap economics being what they are, Ainge is limited to a degree, but he has a host of options at his disposal that weren’t as obvious 24 hours ago. Read the rest of this entry »
|2012-13 Celtics free agent options at small forward||06.28.12 at 11:48 am ET|
Two-thirds of the Celtics roster that came within a game of reaching a third NBA finals in five years joins NBA free agency on July 1. Anyone from Kevin Garnett to Keyon Dooling can leave Boston on July 11 once the league’s audit determines the salary cap (an estimated $58 million). We’re examining the C’s free agent options at each position. Now starting: Small forwards (Also see: Centers, shooting guards and power forwards).
Believe it or not, Paul Pierce‘s ailing foot and Jeff Green‘s season-ending heart problem meant the Celtics began last season with Sasha Pavlovic as the starting three and Marquis Daniels as his backup. Of course, Pierce returned, and the signing of Mickael Pietrus helped solidify the position in Green’s absence. The C’s first order of business after convincing Garnett to return should be re-signing Green. Pietrus seems intent on coming back, but Pavlovic and Daniels will likely be shown the door, so the they may still need one more player for depth.
The Celtics have four players under guaranteed contracts in 2012-13 for a combined $34.5 million (Pierce, $16.8M; Rajon Rondo, $11.0M; Avery Bradley, $1.6M; JaJuan Johnson, $1.1M). Pending decisions on or by Garnett, Ray Allen, Brandon Bass, Greg Stiemsma, Ryan Hollins, Chris Wilcox, Green, Pietrus and Dooling, C’s president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will have anywhere from $0-33 million to spend in free agency.
As a result, expect the Celtics to be linked to just about any and every free agent on the market. Nobody is out of their league. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the options that should be available to the Celtics at small forward, separating the current free agent players into three categories.
|NBA Free agent rumors: Jeff Green has many suitors||06.18.12 at 2:03 pm ET|
Why would the Celtics do that? For one thing it saves them the step of making a qualifying offer, which could handcuff a bit of their cap space. Even as unrestricted free agent, the Celtics still retain full Bird rights on Green, meaning they can go above and beyond the cap to sign him and have the means of competing with just about any offer.
According to Green’s agent David Falk, there will be many competing offers, or at least interested teams. In an interview with SI’s Sam Amick, Falk said he has had discussions with 12-14 teams regarding Green. Falk also told Amick that Green is 100 percent ready for next season and that he expects him to be the most sought after free agent on the market after Deron Williams, if an when Williams opts out of the last year of his contract.
There will be several teams with cap space this summer who could decide to take a run at Green. As it stands, a little more than half the teams in the league have the ability to clear space and a handful could be well under the cap including Cleveland, Brooklyn and Phoenix. Green may not be the second-best unrestricted free agent in a class that includes Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan (admittedly special cases), Ersan Ilyasova and Steve Nash, but he’s in the discussion.
Green is now three years removed from his best season when he made 39 percent of his 3-pointers and averaged 16.5 points and 6.7 rebounds for the Thunder, but he will be 26 in August and should be entering his prime. Compared to other wing forwards on the market — Gerald Wallace, Grant Hill — youth is very much on his side. Restricted free agents Ryan Anderson and Nic Batum may have more upside, but signing them away from their teams won’t be as easy.
The Celtics stand an excellent chance to bring Green back, but they will also have competition.