|Poll: Should Celtics trade Rajon Rondo?||03.02.12 at 1:43 pm ET|
Should the Celtics trade Rajon Rondo?
- Maybe, but only for a superstar or top-10 draft pick (50%, 151 Votes)
- No, they need to keep him for the future (35%, 106 Votes)
- Yes, for whatever they can get for him because he's a distraction (14%, 43 Votes)
Total Voters: 300
|What if the Celtics don’t make a move?||02.22.12 at 2:16 am ET|
Let’s say for the sake of argument that the NBA trade deadline passes on March 15 without the Celtics making a major move. Under that very plausible scenario, they would move forward with their aging core for presumably one last playoff stand. Who knows? Maybe they channel both the 1999 lockout Knicks and their own not-so-distant history by blazing an unexpected path to redemption through the postseason.
That last part may be unlikely, but the chances of team president Danny Ainge standing pat at the deadline rank at least even with pulling off a major move. What then?
As everyone knows, the Celtics will have enough salary cap space to pursue a max free agent with money left over. As everyone also knows, the chances of landing Dwight Howard fall somewhere between slim and none, which leaves Ainge in a quandary.
Does he use that new-found space to pursue lesser free agents or trades and try to stay competitive, or does he hold tight and wait for bigger names to become available down the line? The answer lies somewhere in between. In both his public comments and his actions, Ainge understands that the fastest way to irrelevancy is blowing through cap space on middling free agents. That doesn’t mean, however, that he will just wait for a savior to become available.
The Celtics’ rebuilding process is likely to take several years and will require patience and planning. Here is a highly speculative look at how it would look:
WHAT WOULD BE LEFT
The Celtics have four players under contract for next season: Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Avery Bradley and JaJuan Johnson. Brandon Bass has a player option for $4.25 million, which is a bargain for a player of his caliber, meaning he’ll likely opt out.
They also have an option on E’Twaun Moore and can make a qualifying offer for Greg Stiemsma, who have both flashed NBA ability and have the advantage of being extremely affordable. Assuming they retain both players, their cap situation looks like this:
Committed salaries with Bass: $35.52 million
Without Bass: $31.27 million
Expected salary cap for 2012-13 season: $58 million (Note: The cap is set after the season, but for the purposes of this exercise, the $58 million figure will do.)
It’s important to remember that the Celtics’ cap space is theoretical. The eight free agents, plus assorted other blasts from the past represent over $95 million in “cap holds.” (See Sham Sports salary page for details).
In order to use that space one of two things have to happen. Either the free agent player signs with another team, or the player’s rights are renounced.
It’s possible that say, Kevin Garnett or Ray Allen could be re-signed for significantly less money. It’s also likely that some players such as Mickael Pietrus or Chris Wilcox may be re-signed. Either way, it would be a surprise if all eight pending free agents had different addresses next season.
Barring a complete collapse from the Clippers, the Celtics will have two first round draft picks: Their own and one from the Clips via the Kendrick Perkins trade. While that Clippers pick may not carry the promise of a lottery windfall like it once did, having two picks in what should be a loaded draft is a definite help in the rebuilding process.
The Celtics would have the 15th and 23rd picks in the draft at the moment. Per Draft Express, the 15th-rated prospect is none other than Duke freshman guard Austin Rivers and the 23rd rated prospect is North Carolina freshman forward James McAdoo. Obviously a lot will change between now and the draft, but even picking in the middle and latter part of the first round should yield quality options.
WHAT THE ROSTER MIGHT LOOK LIKE
PG: Rondo, Bradley, Moore
SF: Pierce, Jeff Green*
PF: Wilcox/Bass*, Johnson
* Anticipated signing
We’ve gone ahead and slotted Pietrus, a returning Jeff Green and either Wilcox or Bass with the two first rounders on a theoretical roster, giving the Celtics 11 players for about $45 million. (Again, that’s very rough estimate).
That’s not enough for a max player, but if Howard goes elsewhere, as expected, there’s no one else besides Nets guard Deron Williams who is worth that kind of money. That’s still plenty of space to add players who can be part of the rebuilding project. The key is not breaking the bank and keeping their options open beyond next summer.
THE FREE AGENT MARKET
The obvious needs are at center and the shooting guard position. The free agent market may be thin in unrestricted free agents but there will be a larger-than normal influx of restricted free agents and they offer some intriguing possibilities.
Centers: Roy Hibbert, JaVale McGee, Brook Lopez, Robin Lopez, Omer Asik
Forwards: Ryan Anderson, Nic Batum, Mareese Speights, Michael Beasley, J.J. Hickson, Jason Thompson
Guards: O.J. Mayo, Eric Gordon, George Hill, Rudy Fernandez
Garnett and Allen are the key figures here. It’s not out of the question that one or both could return at a reduced salary, but if they decide to go elsewhere, the Celtics could use them in sign-and-trade scenarios that could yield either players or trade exceptions for future use.
Remember, they used the sign-and-trade route to acquire Bass and turned a trade exception for Daniels into Dooling. Everything is an asset in the NBA, including expiring contracts.
One of the benefits to having cap space is it allows you to absorb contracts without having to match salary in return. That opens the door to limitless possibilities for Ainge to wheel and deal. Teams below the luxury tax line can also take back 150 percent of player contracts in trades as opposed to 125 for taxpaying teams.
Additionally, Bradley, Johnson and Moore are getting important playing time. All three were unknowns before the season started, and while none of them may be cornerstone players that have more value now than they did when the season began. Add in two more first rounders and Ainge is in a position to begin stockpiling assets for a future move.
LUXURY TAX ADVANTAGES
It’s also worth pointing out that teams below the luxury tax threshold (about $70 million in salaries) have certain advantages, such as access to the bi-annual free agent exception (worth just under $2 million) and either the room exception ($2.5 million) or the non-taxpayer mid-level exception worth $5 million. In December, the Celtics could only offer the taxpayer mid-level worth $3 million.
It gets complicated in a hurry, but the larger point is that the Celtics would go from a tax-strapped, over-the-cap team to one with several new options and possibilities virtually overnight. All of that is why retaining flexibility is so important for the Celtics as they look to rebuild and why Ainge won’t trade his core players just to make a move.
|Celtics stun NBA, trade Kendrick Perkins||02.24.11 at 4:34 pm ET|
In moves that shook up the entire NBA, the Celtics pulled off three deadline deals that will affect them now and in the future. According to a source, team president Danny Ainge traded Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City for forward Jeff Green and center Nenad Krstic.
In a separate deal, the Celtics also dealt rookies Luke Harangody and Semih Erden for a second-round draft pick. That deal is about clearing roster space for veteran free agents who are expected to be bought out of their contracts, most notably Troy Murphy.
The Celtics also traded Marquis Daniels to Sacramento for cash. As a player with Early Bird contract rights Daniels had the right to veto the trade, but his agent, Mark Bartelstein, said that he would not. They are more concerned with Daniels’ health than his career at the moment.
But it’s the initial deal that was so shocking. Perkins has recently returned from a torn ACL in his right knee and had moved quickly back into the starting lineup. But Perkins injured his left knee against the Warriors and was going to be held out of the rest of the team’s West Coast trip. With Jermaine O’Neal and Shaquille O’Neal also sidelined by injuries, Perkins was the only veteran center left standing.
With Perkins gone, the oft-repeated line from coach Doc Rivers that no one had ever defeated the Celtics with their starting five will stand.
Robinson, on the other hand, was rumored to be available for the last week. His inconsistent play, and the return of Delonte West made him expendable.
In return, the Celtics received Green and Krstic. Ironically, Green was drafted with the fifth pick in the 2007 draft, which the Celtics used to acquire Ray Allen. Green is averaging 15 points and 5.6 rebounds for the Thunder, but he is a poor 3-point shooter and not much of a rebounder for his size. Krstic is a veteran 7-footer who will help fill in some of the gaps left by Perkins, but the two are very different players.
There’s still more coming. The Celtics will have 12 players left on their roster. That opens the door for Ainge to sign as many as three veteran free agents. Murphy is one name who has been mentioned most prominently, although the Celtics figure to have competition from Miami, among other contenders.
Beyond this season, these moves could clear ample cap space for the future. Krstic will be an unrestricted free agent after this season and Green will be restricted. With only Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and Avery Bradley under contract beyond the 2012 season, the Celtics could be prime players in the next great free agent class that is likely to include Dwight Howard, among others.
The present is cloudy at best. First and foremost will be restoring calm to a locker room that is among the tightest in the league. Perkins was a major force in that both on the court, and off. Second, is how Rivers intends to use Green who is a versatile forward. With Green and Glen Davis, the Celtics could use a variety of lineups to counter teams like Miami and the new-look Knicks.
|Report: Celtics have interest in Troy Murphy and Rip Hamilton||02.16.11 at 10:13 am ET|
We’re still a little more than a week away from the trade deadline of Feb. 24 and things are starting to heat up. Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski writes that if New Jersey’s Troy Murphy and Detroit’s Rip Hamilton are bought out of their contracts, the Celtics would have interest in acquiring them.
Murphy was traded from Indiana to New Jersey in the offseason but didn’t mesh with coach Avery Johnson and requested a trade. Wojnarowski writes that several teams would be interested in Murphy ‘ a big man who can shoot from the outside and rebound ‘ including New Orleans, Miami, Orlando and Miami.
Hamilton has been cast aside in Detroit, racking up DNP-coaches decision for the last few months. The Celtics have had interest in Hamilton before. Neither player addresses the Celtics’ most pressing need, a small forward to back up Paul Pierce, but both would be upgrades to a second unit that has struggled for consistency.
Players who are bought out of their contracts are free to sign with any team. The Celtics are over the cap and could sign them for a the veterans minimum. The issue for the Celtics is that they have 15 players on the roster and someone would have to go to make room for a new acquisition.
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