I'll say up front that this is pretty premature. For the moment, it really doesn't matter at all what happens this summer or after that. We knew when we got KG that the window was probably about 3 years and this might be our last grasp with this core group. If all you care about is titles, then all that matters is what happens in the next few months.
With that said, I can't help it. For the past several weeks, and really for the last couple years, all we've heard about is how important this summer is for just about every team in the NBA. As an added wrinkle, the NBA is hurtling downhill towards a lockout in the following summer. So future is rightfully on the minds of many, especially fans.
The primary driving force behind Danny shopping Ray Allen was about the future. The best option would have been to trade him for a star player signed beyond this year (and perhaps get Ray back). That option didn't work out for one reason or another so now Ray becomes a free agent after the year. So what does that mean for the team?
For one thing, it does not mean that we can sign someone else with the money that Ray is making now. Loyal readers of this site should have that reality down pat by now. Because of the contracts that we have on the books, we'll already be over the cap with just 6 players on the roster (assuming Paul picks up his option, which i'm pretty sure he will).
Now I won't wade too far into the CBA rules and capology because Roy Hobbes is going to take care of that at some point. But I can tell you that we do have the ability to resign guys already on the team. However, to get someone from the free agent market, we'll be limited to the Mid Level Exception and minimum level contracts.
There is still a chance that the team could get some players via a sign-and-trade of our free agents. However, I'm not sure how well that would work with Ray Allen. The teams that might be interested in him are competitors and few will be willing to give up young, highly talented pieces in return for the right to pay him more than the Mid Level. Also, I'm pretty sure nobody is going to give Scalabrine or Tony Allen much more than the veteran minimum. We'll see how Nate Robinson works out. If he isn't the answer we could move him and/or Marquis Daniels a smaller sign and trade deal.
The safe, easy, kick the can down the road option would be to resign Ray, Marquis, and Nate to short term deals. We could fill out the roster with rookies and vet minimum guys. Of course that would mean getting another year older and leaving us open to many of the same issues that plagued the team this year.
The radical option would be to blow everything up Wizards style. That doesn't make a lot of sense either. Even if you found a taker for Kevin Garnett's huge contract, you would only be saving a year off his deal (and I have to point out, after next year, that will be a massive expiring contract that some team might be willing to give up a lot to get). Also, as long as Wyc Grousbeck is the part owner, I think the chances of us actually trading Paul Pierce are somewhere between slim and none. For good reason I might add.
So the plan is probably somewhere in between. Next year will likely be a transition year. It will be about bridging the gap between the current core and the year of shopping KG and Sheed's expiring deals around the league (the following summer into the following year). Also, Rondo will likely take his place as the new face of the franchise.
Getting back to this summer, we don't have many movable trade assets. Glen Davis might bring back a player or two. Good luck getting rid of Sheed. We've got our own draft picks, but we'll need to keep them if we have any hope of getting some young talent. If anything, I think Danny will be looking to buy some picks in the draft this year and next. So Danny will have to get creative.
One outside the box option that I think the team should at least consider is trading Kendrick Perkins. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big, big, big Perkins fan. I couldn't see any rationale behind trading him this year. He's central to our defensive plan and he's too valuable to lose on this team. However, he'll be a free agent after next year and chances are he'll need to be signed to a large contract. Right now he's a bargain at just over 4 million a year, but top talent centers (even non-All-Stars) make some serious coin. He's been very healthy the last two years, but he's put a lot of miles behind him and big, lumbering centers tend to fall off quickly. Bottom line, if we could get some good pieces for him, we should look into it.
The other option to explore is to consider taking on salary in exchange for picks or young players. In other words, we could trade Sheed for a longer term bad contract and a draft pick. Of course that might hurt the potential option of signing a free agent or two when KG's contract comes off the books.
You'll have to forgive the winding, rambling nature of this post. I think it speaks to the large amount of uncertainty this summer promises to bring. Over time the plan might become clearer, but for now it is a very murky crystal ball.
So, you know, here's hoping the team wins now. Cause none of us are getting any younger.