Regardless of how you feel about the signing of Evan Turner, the acquisition signals that more changes are coming for the Boston Celtics. With 18 players on the roster and 15 guaranteed contracts, Boston is going to have to make some moves in order to get under the tax line while balancing the roster.
Since Turner chose to sign in Boston, it's reasonable to assume that he is being promised a chance to play, which was strongly suggested by his agent, David Falk. Since it's a short-term contract, Turner's going to want to prove himself, not rot on the bench like he may have for some other interested organizations.
Boston has 12 total guards and wings, and 6 bigs, which means there isn't a lot of playing time to go around, so some type of move must be in the cards for the Celtics. Chemistry wasn't a problem last season -- in fact, the locker room was extremely positive -- but will veterans like Brandon Bass, Marcus Thornton, and Gerald Wallace be satisfied if their minutes are sliced?
Probably not, and in order to maximize day-to-day progression (even if it's a losing year), the front office is going to have to balance the roster in order to allow Brad Stevens to effectively give clearly defined roles to each player. So, who could be on the move?
Keith Bogans ($5.3M), Chris Johnson ($915k), and Chris Babb ($816k) all have non-guaranteed contracts, so the Celtics can cut them loose at anytime in order to slide under the tax line of $76.8 million. One of them could even be let go before the signing of Turner is even made official so they can retain the non-taxpayer mid-level exception*.
*Depending on the value of Turner's contract, both mid-levels are transferable. Once details about Turner's contract are announced, this will be edited appropriately.
Babb seems like a possible candidate to be cut, probably long before training camp begins as a "favor" so he has time to find a job, whether it's in the NBA or overseas. The same can be said for Bogans, though it's more likely that the Celtics will hold onto him for as long as possible so that they can attempt to find a trading partner.
Even though Johnson is a lovable hustling maniac, Boston may not see him as part of their long-term plans, though his production and youth would appear to suggest that they'd like to keep him. It's hard to see the Celtics getting rid of him unless they can't find a trade for another player on the roster.
Jeff Green: $9,200,000
Despite popular belief, Jeff Green presents a lot of value for any contending team looking for a complementary scorer. At only $9.2 million, Green might be a bit costly for the retooling Celtics, but that is a fair price for any competitive roster, especially after this year's booming free agent market.
Teams looking to make a playoff push like Atlanta, Memphis, and New Orleans could all use a player like Green, especially since all three teams are relatively weak at small forward. Memphis is an especially intriguing option, since they have Tayshaun Prince and his $7.7 million expiring contract to dangle in a deal.
As a part of a larger package, Detroit and Phoenix are also appealing. If the Pistons are serious about moving Josh Smith to Sacramento, the Celtics could be the third team needed to facilitate a deal, sending Green to Detroit while receiving assets in return, possibly Ben McLemore.
Gerald Wallace: $10,105,855
It'll be impossible to trade Gerald Wallace and the $20.2 million remaining on his contract, unless of course assets are packaged with him. With so many tradable draft picks, Boston could throw in enough incentives to make a deal happen, if a partner is found.
Both Philadelphia and Phoenix have loads of cap space available and could easily absorb Wallace's contract. Even though the 76ers have so much room, it'd be surprising if they had much interest, as an extra draft pick might not outweigh the negative of an unhappy and aging Wallace plopped on the bench. At least in Phoenix, or even Atlanta, Wallace would be able to sit on the bench and enjoy winning.
Brandon Bass: $6,900,000
According to Grantland, Boston was open to dealing Brandon Bass to Golden State earlier this month, but the Warriors decided to let their $7 million trade exception expire. Bass is on an expiring $6.9 million contract and would be a good backup big for any team looking for a knockdown mid-range jump shooter. Other than Golden State, teams like New York, Phoenix, and Sacramento, could all be fits for Bass based on team need and tradable salaries.
Joel Anthony ($3.8M) & Vitor Faverani ($2.1M)
Boston doesn't necessarily need to dump either of these players, especially the 26-year-old Faverani, but both have small salaries, so a competitive team could have interest in adding one of them for depth. They'd be easy enough to deal, and there are a large amount of teams that can deal a non-guaranteed contract in return for either player.
Rajon Rondo: $12,909,091
Earlier this month I outlined nine teams that make sense as trade destinations for Rajon Rondo, but the point of the article was to show just how difficult it'd be for Boston to find fair trade value for him. But as free agency is winding down, a new possibility may have popped up: Phoenix.
With Eric Bledsoe demanding a max contract (and the Suns apparently unwilling to give it), maybe the Celtics could slide in as a team willing to take Bledsoe in a sign-and-trade in return for Rondo. Adding more pieces like Jeff Green, Gerald Wallace, Brandon Bass, or others, could work to help balance Boston's roster, cut salary, and still receive compensation from Phoenix.
But a Rondo trade is highly unlikely unless Boston is willing to take less than market value for their star point guard, so don't get too jumpy about the possibility.
Marcus Thornton: $8,575,000
At nearly $8.6 million, not too many teams will be interested in Marcus Thornton. In fact, it's precisely why Cleveland and Brooklyn took so long to find a third team willing to take on Thornton's contract, though it still took compensation (Tyler Zeller and a draft pick) for Boston to sign up for the deal.
With that said, don't expect Thornton to be moved this summer, especially since he can't be dealt in aggregated trades until September 10th. He isn't really the type of player the Celtics necessary need during a losing campaign, as he'll only take playing time away from young players, so maybe at one point during the year his expiring contract could be used in a deal.