Rumors have been rampant the last few days (weeks?) that the Celtics are in sell mode and looking to move Jeff Green and Brandon Bass for cap space and/or draft picks. Putting aside details for the moment, it seems like the front office is eager to wipe the slate clean from the old era and start anew with just a few core pieces (and a bushel of draft picks) moving forward.
The baseline assumption that I'm going to make is that Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger are here at least until the summer and likely well beyond that (unless the proverbial Godfather deal comes around). If Ainge is successful in moving both Green and Bass without taking back any salary beyond this year, here's who will be on contract this summer. (Via Basketball Insiders)
- Rajon Rondo - $12.9M
- Gerald Wallace - $10.1M
- Joel Anthony - $3.8M (player option)
- Vitor Faverani - $2.1M
- Kelly Olynyk - $2.1M
- Jared Sullinger - $1.3M
- Phil Pressey - $816K (team option)
- Chris Johnson - $915K (team option)
That's it. Keep in mind, there's cap holds and qualifying offers (Avery Bradley) and stuff like that. So I'm not going to bother doing the math right now. The bottom line is that there would be a lot of cap space to make a run at a free agent or two (or three, depending on the price). Not to mention plenty of flexibility and picks to make some swing-for-the-fences trades. Oh, and there are also TPE's, the option of trading Bogans' unguaranteed contract, and perhaps even a sign-and-trade of Avery Bradley. Options galore this summer.
Of course, as Joe Dumars has taught us on more than one occasion, cap space doesn't always equal success. So pump the breaks on thinking that this is an easy road to another banner. You have to make the right moves with that cap space or all the selling off is for naught (and worst case is that it could put your franchise back several years).
Still, that's another subject for another day. I thought I'd take a moment to look at the rest of the roster.
My premise is this: If Ainge is able to recreate his 2007 summer magic and add some big name (read: expensive) player(s) to pair with Rajon Rondo, there's not going to be a lot of room left under the cap or tax to fill out the rest of the roster. So good, cheap players will be at a premium.
Looking up at our roster, there's at least a few guys that fit that description. Sullinger is the bargain of the bunch. He could be a star or at the very least a very solid starter for years and he'll be under his rookie deal for the next 2 years. Then there's Kelly Olynyk, who's locked in for the next 3 years.
Phil Pressey and Chris Johnson are both dirt cheap and the team has all the leverage with them if they don't pan out. Both could be very useful in targeted (limited) roles.
Vitor Faverani hasn't quite lived up to my elevated expectations, but he's got height and toughness and perhaps another year in the NBA will season him that much more. If not, then he's only owed $2M for one more year and he could be packaged with Joel Anthony (expiring contract next year) to bring in more help.
Then there are likely 2 first round picks that are locked in under the rookie scale. Then don't forget there's Colton Iverson biding his time overseas this year.
The only big ticket items still on the payroll would be Rondo, Gerald Wallace, and (probably) Avery Bradley (depending on how he's valued by the front office). There's also the option of bringing back Kris Humphries on a much more reasonable contract.
I guess what I'm saying is that this trade deadline could be the setup for a pretty huge offseason. If Ainge is feeling that 2007 vibe, then he's going to need this generations's Kendrick Perkins, Rondo, Eddie House, Big Baby, James Posey, etc. to fill out the roster. Some of those kinds of guys might already be here.