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Final Puzzle Pieces

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Throw it down Big Baby.
Throw it down Big Baby.

Finally, the roster is taking shape.  There were a number of unanswered questions lingering for the last several weeks, but with Shelden Williams locked up, Big Baby close to re-signing, and the Marquis Daniels situation wrapping up soon, we've got some closure on those questions. So there is some measure of relief that is only natural to feel as a Celtic fan.  However, I wouldn't celebrate too much yet.  There are some details left to work out.

The reason the Marquis Daniels situation has dragged on so long is because Danny was looking to find a better way to get him into town.  Barring a last minute deal, both sides will have to settle for giving him the Bi-Annual Exception.  Daniels might insist on fewer years or player options if he can't get the money he's looking for, meaning he might walk next year.  Obviously Danny was looking for an easy way to get Tony Allen off the roster, since he hasn't been able to rise to the occasion on the multiple opportunities he's gotten.

If the team is really still interested in Bruce Bowen, somethings got to give.  Davis and Daniels take us to 14 roster spots taken and we still haven't addressed the point guard spot.  We'll have Ray Allen, Eddie House, JR Giddens, Tony Allen, and Marquis Daniels who can all play the 2 spot.  I only see Bowen being added if Tony or another one of those guys leaves town.

All signs point to us bringing Davis back at a reasonable contract for a limited number of years. 

Update: We have more details from the Herald on the Davis deal.

Davis agreed to a two-year contract worth approximately $6.3 million, including a starting point of approximately $3 million next season. He was here today, and may take a physical Monday before officially signing the deal.

So no worries there.  Except that we know Ainge was exploring sign-and-trade deals.  We might have been able to turn Davis into a player or two that might have had more value than Davis alone so there's a bit of an opportunity lost there.  Still, Ainge didn't get what he was looking for, so Davis is a good fit to bring back for another few years.  Besides, if teams are still interested in Davis there's always the trade deadline.

Finally, you have to consider the cap implications of all these free agent signings with no contracts going elsewhere.  Celtics Hub does the math for me (scratch that - I'll do it myself)  If I'm doing the math right, that means our salaries add up to $83.9M.  The luxury tax threshold is $69.9M.  That means that the C's are paying $14M in taxes for a total cost of $98M.

True, it isn't my money or yours, but consider this.  As it stands the team still has Scalabrine and Tony Allen on expiring contracts.  Will the team be willing to make a move at the trade deadline if it means locking in more tax dollars in current and future years?  Or will Ainge be encouraged to dump one or two of those salaries for 2nd round draft picks somewhere along the line to reduce the tax hit?

Still, as I've mentioned before Ainge has built us a solid bench headed into the season.  We desperately needed frontcourt depth and we landed perhaps the best frontcourt option available in Rasheed.  Now we've added Shelden Williams and are apparently bringing Baby back.  Toss Scal in the mix and you've got a nice bench rotation there.

We also needed to give Pierce some more rest, and Daniels should be able to handle that job.  Now we just need to fill the backup point position and we should be just about done for the summer.  Well, about as "done" as Ainge will ever be.  I'm sure he's not going to turn the cell phone off anytime soon. 

I do expect to see Hudson and probably Robert Swift get invited to training camp, but most likely on non-guaranteed contracts.  As the summer drags on, the remaining free agents are going to start lowering their expectations and settling for the last few roster spots available.  I've heard it said that there will be fewer roster spots available for fringe free agents because many teams will stop at 13 roster spots instead of the max of 15.

There's always a chance that we may have to wait for training camp before picking up that point guard.  Every year teams have situations come out of the blue causing them to cut someone they otherwise wouldn't.

It is good that we are finally getting some resolution to the roster.  Some things worked out great (getting Sheed, bringing Baby back at a reasonable cost), some things worked out ok (Daniels for the Bi-Annual), and some things haven't gone as well as we'd have liked (missed on Grant Hill and Moon, no sign & trades).  But all in all not a bad haul. 

I think we're clearly a better team than we were last year and you could make the argument that we're better than the title team on paper.  But all that matters is if we're better than the competition, and the competition didn't exactly take a step back.