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Expect Celtics to pick up options on Amir Johnson and Jonas Jerebko

Though not necessarily for the reasons you think.

Atlanta Hawks v Boston Celtics - Game Six Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

I fully expect the Celtics to pick up the contract options on Amir Johnson and Jonas Jerebko, but not necessarily because they plan to keep them for next season. Allow me to explain (sorry if this gets boring and technical).

For reference, Johnson and Jerebko each have non-guaranteed contracts, so the team has the option of waiving them before July 3rd and clearing a combined $17 million in salary cap space.

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Both Johnson and Jerebko have non-guaranteed contracts at salaries that should look like bargains in the new salary cap climate, but both contracts reportedly become guaranteed July 3, which means the Celtics must decide before the start of open negotiations whether they want to keep one or both around at those prices. However, both contracts are good values for which other teams likely would be happy to trade.

At first blush it would appear that the Celtics would have two days to evaluate free agent signing options before making the call on Johnson and Jerebko. However, there’s a rule in the CBA that stipulates that players need to clear the waiver process—which takes a full 48 hours. That 48 hours would have to take place before the July 3rd deadline, so the the Celtics would need to request waivers for either player by the end of the day on June 30th.

The Celtics won't be allowed to talk to any free agents before July 1st, so they won’t know if they’ll need money to sign a max free agent (or two). But that shouldn’t slow the Celtics down in making their decision to pick up the options on Amir and Jonas.

You see, they have very favorable contracts for their production, and that could be valuable for the Celtics or for another team. If the Celtics do pick up the options and then find themselves in need of maxing out their cap space, they’ll be able to find more than enough interested teams with extra space looking to take Johnson and/or Jerebko off our hands for cheap (or for some draft pick compensation in return).

Once the big-name free agents find new homes, there will be teams with gobs of cap space without premium talent to spend it on. Several will actually have a challenge getting up to the salary floor. Instead of making a mistake on maxing out a risky player, they would be more than happy to trade Johnson and/or Jerebko into their cap space.

Of course, as a backup plan, if the Celtics are not able to land a free agent or two, they’ll still have two productive players on bargain deals (in this new era of higher salary caps) for another year.

Either way, barring unforeseen circumstances, I would expect Amir and Jonas to still be on the roster come July 3rd. Just thought you’d like to know.

(special thanks to Danny Leroux for pointing this out)

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