So everything is pointing towards another year of winding it back. Perhaps Ainge gets a desperation deal from the Kings for Rondo or Saunders realizes after week 2 that no matter how great he thinks he is, the Wolves are not a playoff team and is willing to trade Love. Those two things aside, I expect the season to be played out with any big time deals, or as it's now put, fireworks.
So what do we do to maximize the teams future? Obviously acquiring assets is great, but you have to have some long term goals. I think ownership is just as impatient as we are and does not want a 5 year rebuild like the Sixers are doing right now. Hopefully we are playing for the 2015 offseason now to make some deals. There are going to be a lot of quality free agents next summer and it'll be extremely important to make moves to persuade Rondo to sign back on so we don't lose him for anything.
Please note, I am far from a cap guru so it's more than likely I make some errors here. Feel free to point them out so I can fix any.
Step 1: Get the most out of expiring assets as possible.
I'll try to be realistic, you're not likely going to get a lot out of these guys.
Bradley (3.5) Tendered offer
Humphries (12 mill)
Keith Bogans (5 mill)
Jerryd Bayless (3 mill)
Vitor Faverani (2 mill)
Phil Pressey (.4 mill)
Bradley's market is tough to tell. With our recent draft picks I would not be surprised to see him sign and traded to a contending team looking for a piece. He'll never be a featured scorer (which he was miscast this past year) but he's an all star roleplayer. Super elite defense and can stretch the floor. The ability to impact games without having to shoot it 20 times is something guys like Westbrook and Rose will never understand. I don't think Ainge locks himself into a bad contract with Bradley right before our big window and is willing to let him walk.
All of that being said, the market looks pretty horrible for him right now. Contending/mediocre teams dont' have cap space for him, and rebuilding teams are going to want to commit 4 years, 24 million to an injury prone role player. The only team that could make a play for him is the Mavericks, whom don't make any sense since they have Ellis already, not to mention will likely resign Carter for cheap. I think Ainge lowballs him with 3 years 15 million, and Bradley takes the tender and promise of UFA next summer when teams will be loading up with cap space.
Humphries S&T to Cleveland for Sergey Karasev (1.5), Tyler Zeller (1.7) Brendan Haywood (2.2). Both of these guys have fully unguaranteed contracts for 2015. Haywood's balloons to 10.5 million, which immediately becomes a super Keith Bogans cap saving contract. Zeller has a team option for 2.6. That's likely immediately waived, but he could turn it around and have a bounce back year. Cavs do this because it gives them a fringe starter, legitimate big off the bench and they're desperate to compete and only have to give up end of bench parts. Celtics do this because we get financial flexibility for a guy we'd otherwise let go for free.
Bogans traded to Chicago for Mike Dunleavy (3.0) and Anthony Randolph (1.8). Chicago does it because after they amnesty Boozer, it gives them an additional 4.8 million to persuade Carmelo with. The max Carmelo can get is 22.5 and 21 million sounds a lot better than 16 million and dramatically increases their chances of stealing him from NY. The alternative is dumping Snell/Gibson at bad value which they want to avoid. We get more expiring contracts to play with.
Pressey is the only other one worth signing, the others walk. Get Pressey at a similar deal to Chris Johnson (3 year extension, 0.9 mill per season, each year is a team option).
Step Two: Shed weight
Gerald Wallace is a giant dead weight. After this season he will be a 10 million dollar expiring. You have to hold on to him for another year because to get rid of him at this point would cost us a draft pick. Hopefully at the end of the year you can trade him for anything. It's too far into the future to see which teams will be looking for expiring contracts, but even if it costs us a couple second rounders, I would do it.
Jeff Green is tough to determine. He could have a great year this season and opt out with his player option, which wouldn't be awful for us. I don't think anyone (worth listening to) really thinks Green is an awful player. He is not ever going to be a star player, but as a 3rd or 4th option he's great. He can stretch the floor, play elite defense, get you easy buckets, and occasionally go berserk for 30-40. The only downside is that he's not worth 9.2 mill which is what he'd be making in 2015 if he opts in. Hopefully you can convince him to take a hometown discount and gain some financial security by signing a 4 year deal for 26 mill (6.5 per). He seems to love it here and going back to his heart surgery seemed genuinely thankful to the organization.
If he opts out it just means he had a monster season, we have bird rights, and the option to let him walk for cap savings.
So right now this is what our books would look like that year under that scenario:
Olynyk (2.1) Team Option
Sullinger (2.2) Team Option
Chris Johnson (0.9) Team Option
Chris Babb (0.9) Team Option
Phil Pressey (0.9) Team Option
***Brandon Haywood (10.5) Unguaranteed
Rondo (13.0) Cap Hold
Total: 31.5, Projected Cap ~68 million, Projected Cap Space ~36.5 million
***Not counting against the cap because they would either release him for 0 cap hit, or trade him for a player from a team looking for cap savings
Obviously not a full team but that's a pretty solid base to work with. I included Rondo's cap hold just because I think it's clearly our best option to resign him. We can not let him walk for nothing. Rondo at 13 million is a steal. In a vacuum his value is probably roughly 17. If it means overpaying him 3 mill per year to keep him, I'm perfectly okay with that. Losing him would simply set us back too far. Not to mention, we have cap space to sign theoretically two max calibre players. While that's probably unrealistic and I don't want to dump KO/Sully for nothing, having that much cap space to sign three second tier level guys like Afflalo, Hibbert, etc. and then resign Rondo with Bird Rights would be huge.
So up to this point I think most of the moves have been fairly straightforward, and this is where things could go a million ways with signings. Keep in mind in this scenario we did not spend any first round picks and have 8 firsts in four years. What would you do after this point?
My personal solution:
-Cut Chris Johnson and Chris Babb (1.8 mill savings)
-Sign Kevin Love, 4 years, 81 million.
That's the max we can offer Love. 19 million in the first year. (19.3 mill remaining). I think Love would love to be a Celtic and not only knows (as the rest of the league) how well the fans and ownership treats their players, but wants to play in a big market. I think the appreciation for franchise history is a little overblown, but the Lakers are the only other team that comes to close to the Celtics in those two regards and really their fans are generally pretty awful. He knows he'd be a hero in Boston along the lines Pedroia and Brady are. And again, lets not forget the only city he was seen visiting this offseason.
Now we either have 19.3 or 8.3 million remaining due to Haywood's contract. It gives you a lot of flexibility because you can trade it for a guy to give some team cap savings, you can cut him for nothing, you can package it with a sign and trade for a big time guy. For example you could theoretically tear up Pressey's contract, give him a one year, four million dollar deal, fully guaranteed, sign a 8.3 million guy, and package that with Haywood and 10 draft picks for Durant. With the Love signing, it would make sense to trade Olynyk or Sullinger. Packaging one of them with Haywood could get you a good starter (Iguodala) or a couple great role players (Jamal Crawford 5.7 one year + Reddick two years 14.5).
Sign Omer Asik, 4 years, 32 million
I was really hoping Ainge was going to get this guy this offseason. I think he's going to blow up this year and average 14 rebounds. His defense was underrated but has now become a bit overrated. He's not the quickest on his feet, nor athletic, but he's smart and is very strong in the low block. His FT% has gotten better and he makes a very good anchor. His upside is not as high as DeAndre Jordan or Roy Hibbert who will both likely be available, but both will likely cost in the 15 per range which is too steep for me at this point after seeing both crap their pants in the playoffs this year. I thought about giving Marc Gasol the max, but he's going to be 30 at that point and paying 20 million to him when he's 34 years old seems like bad business.
Now, I may be mistaken, but I do believe while Bradley is an unrestricted FA, we still have his Bird Rights and his cap hold is only 3.5 If we keep Bradley and resign him after, you're making the most out of your money.
1-4 we are loaded with good-great starters and great depth. We need another big.
Robin Lopez, 3 years, 24 million.
Rondo / Smart / Pressey
Smart / Bradley / Young
Green / Young
Love / Sullinger / Olynyk
Asik / Lopez
We have the flexibility to add pieces in the draft and have continued success with those or have the ability to make big moves. There is a laughable amount of depth there and we go a legit 10 deep, before even considering who we drafted. Love >> 2014 Duncan, Rondo > Parker, Smart ?=? Ginobli, Green Mills, our depth > Spurs depth
With that team we instantly at worst are a contending team, and a top 3 team in the East depending on how Chicago/Miami pan out. At best that team could conceivably win a championship if things go well. But even if we don't come out of the East and win a championship, you're still looking at multiple 1st round draft picks for four straight years. While I think the Nets ownership will pump enough cash in them to keep them from being a bottom 3 team, they could absolutely be lottery picks we're getting as well.
I realized I didn't even use the MLE
3 years, 15 million - Gerald Green
I know Celtics fans will see that name and cringe, but this past year he was phenomenal and was a large part of the reason Phoenix played so well when they were expected to be awful. He'll be 29, so his age won't be an issue over the length of the contract and he's always been an athletic freak who could jump over the backboard anyways. He's a good 3 point shooter and plays underrated defense. He's 6'8 and a great athlete so he's a guy we can stick in front of Lebron/Durant for stretches and he can be another 3 point shooter and run the fastbreak.
Rondo / Smart / Pressey
Smart / Bradley / G.Green / Young
J.Green / G.Green / Young
Love / Sullinger / Olynyk
Asik / Lopez
I really don't know how you can possibly build a deeper team than that. And again that is an elite team without using any of our 8 first round draft picks in the next four years. That means we have the amo to go package our loaded assets with a loaded arsenal of draft picks for pretty much any player in the NBA if we wanted.
Bonus: (For fun)
Green + Bradley S&T + Sullinger + Green + 2015 Celtics first (likely low teens) + right to swap 2015 unprotected Clippers first + Sixers 2015 first (top 14 protected) + 2016 unprotected Celtics first + 2016 right to swap Nets first + better of Celtics/Nets unprotected 2017 first, right to swap unprotected Celtics/Nets 2017 first + 2018 unprotected Nets first + 2018 right to swap 2018 unprotected Celtics first
He'll be in the last year of his deal, the ownership has been notoriously cheap and cost him not only one of his best friends, but the best SG in the NBA for a bunch of cap savings and prospects. I think he likes it in OKC, but he wants to win, and ownership will be underfire for the rest of forever if KD walks for nothing after the Harden debacle. It would be a franchise crippling blow. So they cut their loses and take the greatest stimulus package in the history of the NBA. Five first round picks, the right to swap 4 more, and four starter calibre players.
Rondo / Pressey
Smart / Young
Durant / Young
Love / Olynyk /
Asik / Lopez