clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

What does the failed DeMarcus Cousins pursuit mean for the Celtics?

The Celtics came out of nowhere in their pursuit of DeMarcus Cousins. Did their desire and willingness to sign the free agent All Star give us insight into their off season strategy?

NBA: Playoffs-Portland Trail Blazers at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

“The Rich get richer” has become a bit of a theme of the NBA as of late. The trend continued when the Golden State Warriors were able to acquire DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins. Th move stung a little deeper for Boston when it was reported that they were one of the finalists on Boogie’s list before he chose to go the Bay.

The fact that the Celtics were that close to acquiring the former star raised a couple of questions and eyebrows.

How was DeMarcus Cousins supposed to fit?

Had the Celtics been able to pull this off, the Celtics frontcourt depth chart would have had:Al Horford, Aron Baynes, DeMarcus Cousins, Daniel Theis, and Robert Williams III. Williams would have probably spent the year in Maine, but the Celtics were most likely going to start Horford at the 5 meaning Baynes, Cousins, and Theis would have been battling for front court minutes along with certain guys who would play stretch 4 such as Semi Ojeleye, Marcus Morris, and Gordon Hayward. So what gives?

Well, according to Woj, Cousins isn’t expected to come back until February so whoever landed him knew it came with the understanding that he would be rehabbing for most of the year.

It’s possible that Boston would have just allowed Cousins to slowly rehab and then mixed him in throughout the end of the regular season so he could get his feet wet. Then in the playoffs they would have picked their spots on where you play him, (similar to Greg Monroe) and used him as specialist.

Do the Celtics looking to get Boogie mean they’re open to being in the tax this year?

In order to get DeMarcus Cousins it appears that the Celtics were going to have to use a chunk of the mid-level exception. Assuming that you also believe that the team is serious about getting Marcus Smart back, there’s an interesting question of whether this move was an indicator that the Celtics were actually open to going into the tax.

Because the team is eventually going to be in the tax for a long time, there’s been some talk that to delay the repeater tax they should do what they can to stay below the luxury tax this year. If the Celtics lost Smart, they would have access to their full mid-level exception ($8.6 million), and if they got Smart back they’d be forced to use the taxpayer mid-level exception (5.2million).

So if Boston’s plan included bringing back Smart and getting Boogie, chances are they’d be a tax paying team. This highlights Danny Ainge and Boston’s ownership vow to pay for talent if they believe it can make the team better. This is encouraging to see from a fan standpoint even if it may not be the best financial decision for the long-term.

Are there any other names the Celtics might be interested in?

There are no more big names that are available, and I genuinely think that the reason the Celtics were willing to take such a gamble was because it was a big name. Are you willing to go into the tax for Luc Mbah A Moute, Wayne Ellington, or Nemanja Bjelica? Probably not. This was just a smart team taking a calculated risk on a guy with star potential. But if last year showed us anything, it’s that anything is possible, so stay tuned.