With this lockout shortened regular season in its final week, it’s looking like the Boston Celtics are poised for a nice playoff run. They’ve been playing well as of late, 7-3 in their last 10, and better yet a post-season matchup with the Atlanta Hawks looks probable and that’s a good matchup for the C’s.
As we await the playoffs, it’s always interesting to look towards the future and make predictions. A glance at the Celtics’ financials might initiate some panic, but there are many expiring contracts that give way to one important subject: options. Who knows—perhaps Celtics fans can look forward to a younger Boston team. This year’s team is a veteran bunch with a number of guys missing large chunks of time nursing injuries, and with Jermaine O’Neal even forced to retire. The Celtics players probably discuss personal health insurance almost as often as which plays they will run.
It might be time to move away from the aging core of veterans we’ve come to know and love throughout the years. Ray Allen may already be thinking of leaving after losing his starting position to the younger and more athletic Avery Bradley while he was out with an injury.
Spending in Beantown
That “quick glance” we referred to earlier is one that could generate a heart attack – but it’s not that bad. While the Celtics are at $87.8 million this season, which puts them well over the salary cap of $58.044 million, it could be significantly less this year.
The reason for this is very simple, as two of the original “Big Three” have expiring contracts:
Note that Rajon Rondo is locked in until 2014/15 ($10 million this year and an additional million each year).
But that’s not all for expiring contracts. Jermaine O’Neal, Rasheed Wallace, Chris Wilcox, Keyon Dooling, Michael Pietrus and Shaquille O’Neal are just some of the names that will – or already have – come off the books for the Celtics. In fact, those players add up to over $19 million in salary cap space.
In fact, the Celtics only have Pierce, Rondo, Bradley and JaJuan Johnson locked in beyond next year, according to basketball blog HoopsHype. $16 and $11 million for the first two, respectively, is good news for Boston fans. It could be worse, like with Carlos Boozer who is due for $15 million next year (locked in until 2014/15).
Nobody really knows. Take away the Boston front office and you’re left with opinions and theories. There simply is no generally accepted view of how Boston will proceed.
But it does seem like Allen and Garnett will be heading out of Boston. With Pierce and Rondo, and a great deal of cap space, we could see Boston becoming aggressive on the free agency market. It could be a lot like Dallas, who’s losing Terry, West, Kidd and others. Don’t be surprised to see both teams beef up for a renewed run in the playoffs next year. Dwight Howard is reportedly wanting out of Orlando but we have seen him bounce back and forth too many times already to waste time guessing where he’ll end up.
Could it be a Kris Humphries, Chris Kaman or Spencer Hawes? There could be some unrestricted free agents, like these, who would fit well with the Celtics’ core of players. It will certainly be interesting to see how the Celtics move forward with free agency and the draft.
Some fireworks in the offseason may be in store. Maybe we’ll get lucky and see a deep playoff run along with some impressive acquisitions; it’s happened before and it could happen again.