The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach reported that the Celtics extended a $4.3 million qualifying offer to Kelly Olynyk on Thursday. Olynyk is unlikely to accept the deal, as his market rate will undoubtedly come in at a much higher price, with far more years attached to it.
Boston is banking on that fact. If Olynyk were to accept their offer, it would cause major headaches in trying to free up the needed cap space to sign Gordon Hayward. If that becomes a realistic possibility, the Celtics will rescind their offer, removing Olynyk’s cap hold from their books, and making him an unrestricted free agent.
Until that point, assuming he chooses not to accept his qualifying offer, Olynyk will remain a restricted free agent, giving the Celtics the right to match any offers made by outside suitors or potentially putting together a sign-and-trade with his new team. Whether or not they do so will be entirely contingent on external variables.
If Olynyk receives an offer sheet prior to a Hayward decision, and Boston believes they’re still in the running for his services, they will undoubtedly let Olynyk move on. If the Celtics miss out on Hayward, however, and an offer sheet is submitted after he’s signed with another team, Boston may be inclined to match. Essentially, they are keeping their options open as much as possible.
Competitors for Olynyk’s services know this, and a smart team with interest should work hard to submit an offer sheet on Olynyk prior to resolution in Hayward’s free agency. The Celtics would almost certainly let Olynyk leave in such a scenario.
The bottom line is that it is unlikely that Olynyk will be playing for Boston next year. That writing has been on the wall for a while now, but then again, there are no sure things in NBA free agency. If the Celtics strike out on their grand plans to add two superstars this summer, then there is a real possibility Olynyk could return to the team.
Boston’s roster-building decision tree is a complicated series of dominoes, and Olynyk is set up to fall towards the end of it. Another team may force the Celtics to make that call much earlier than they would like, but until then they’ll have their fingers crossed, hoping to get a number of other ducks in a row.