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Offseason Preview Series: Celtics final(ish) 2020-21 roster scenarios

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Boston can either be really expensive and good, or less-expensive, but still good in 2021

Boston Celtics Introduce Kemba Walker Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

So far during the Boston Celtics Offseason Preview Series, we’ve looked at the following:

· The Gordon Hayward question

· 2020 NBA Draft strategies

· Boston’s options, guarantees and qualifying offers

· Celtics trade ideas

· Mid-Level Exception targets

· Minimum Exception targets

· Jayson Tatum’s contract extension

Now it’s time to put it all together and take a look at what the 2020-21 Boston Celtics roster could look like. We’re going to present two different forms for you. The first is a pie-in-the-sky, yet realistic, idea of the team Danny Ainge could put together. The second is a far more likely version of what Brad Stevens would be looking at when the season tips off.

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Ideal 2020-21 Boston Celtics Roster

This version has Celtics ownership looking at the books and saying: “We’re paying the luxury tax anyway. Let’s really go for it and a load up for a real title run.” This final product would be expensive, but would be a no-doubt title contender, and possibly even a title favorite. Here’s the transactions that would need to happen:

· Gordon Hayward opts in

· Enes Kanter opts out

· Boston declines their team option for Semi Ojeleye and doesn’t tender him a qualifying offer

· Boston doesn’t tender a qualifying offer for Brad Wanamaker

· Trade 1:

Boston trades to Orlando: Gordon Hayward, Romeo Langford, #14 and #26

Boston acquires from Orlando: Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic

· Trade 2:

Boston trades to Detroit: Carsen Edwards, Vincent Poirier and #30

Boston acquires from Detroit: Draft Rights to Deividas Sirvydis

· Celtics sign Harry Giles via the full Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception

· Celtics sign Alec Burks via the Minimum Exception

· Celtics sign Glenn Robinson III via the Minimum Exception

· Celtics re-sign Tremont Waters via the Minimum Exception

· Celtics re-sign Tacko Fall to a Two-Way contract

· Celtics sign 2020 draft pick #47 via the Minimum Exception

· Celtics sign a second Two-Way player

The resulting roster would be:

· Ballhandlers: Alec Burks, Marcus Smart, Kemba Walker, Tremont Waters

· Wings: Jaylen Brown, Aaron Gordon, Javonte Green, Glenn Robinson III, Jayson Tatum

· Bigs: Tacko Fall, Harry Giles, Daniel Theis, Nikola Vucevic, Grant Williams, Robert Williams

If you prefer a more traditional depth chart, it could look like this:

· Point Guard: Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart, Tremont Waters

· Shooting Guard: Jaylen Brown, Alec Burks, Javonte Green

· Small Forward: Jayson Tatum, Glenn Robinson III

· Power Forward: Aaron Gordon, Grant Williams

· Center: Nikola Vucevic, Daniel Theis, Harry Giles, Robert Williams, Tacko Fall

That team is an instant contender. They have defensive versatility and all kinds of offense. Vucevic would provide an inside scoring threat, while also being a passable defender and terrific rebounder. Gordon fits in perfectly as a bigger wing, but one that can still switch. Burks, Robinson and Giles provide depth. And the third level depth is also very good as well.

While this would be ideal, and it’s not unrealistic, it’s not very likely. This team would be north of $16 million over the luxury tax. That would work out to actual tax bill of over $34 million.

Add a $34 million tax bill to $149 million of actual salary and the 2020-21 Boston Celtics would cost over $183 million. Boston’s ownership is committed to paying the tax, but that’s probably a bill they won’t foot.

Now, you could knock that bill down considerably by not signing Giles, or anyone else, using the Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception. The Celtics could also forgo the Minimum Exception signings for players like Burks or Robinson. But the reality is that team still gets really, really expensive. And that alone makes it unlikely Boston goes this route.

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More Likely 2020-21 Boston Celtics

The More Likely version of the Celtics involves moves to strengthen the rotation, while keeping the tax bill in a more manageable, or possibly even avoidable, realm. The resulting roster is still a title contender, but probably not a favorite. The good news? There would still be room for tweaking the roster throughout the season. Here are the transactions for this version:

· Gordon Hayward opts in or opts out and re-signs (see below)

· Enes Kanter opts out

· Boston declines their team option for Semi Ojeleye and doesn’t tender him a qualifying offer

· Boston doesn’t tender a qualifying offer for Brad Wanamaker

· Trade:

Boston trades to Detroit: Carsen Edwards, Vincent Poirier and #30

Boston acquires from Detroit: Draft Rights to Deividas Sirvydis

· Celtics sign Harry Giles via the full Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception

· Celtics sign Alec Burks via the Minimum Exception

· Celtics sign Glenn Robinson III via the Minimum Exception

· Celtics re-sign Tremont Waters via the Minimum Exception

· Celtics re-sign Tacko Fall to a Two-Way contract

· Celtics sign 2020 draft pick #14 to full Rookie Scale contract

· Celtics draft and stash a player with 2020 draft pick #26

· Celtics sign 2020 draft pick #47 to a Two-Way contract

The resulting roster would be:

· Ballhandlers: Alec Burks, Marcus Smart, Kemba Walker, Tremont Waters

· Wings: Jaylen Brown, Javonte Green, Gordon Hayward, Romeo Langford, Glenn Robinson III, Jayson Tatum

· Bigs: Tacko Fall, Harry Giles, Daniel Theis, Grant Williams, Robert Williams

If you prefer a more traditional depth chart, it could look like this:

· Point Guard: Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart, Tremont Waters

· Shooting Guard: Jaylen Brown, Alec Burks, Romeo Langford

· Small Forward: Gordon Hayward, Glenn Robinson III, Javonte Green

· Power Forward: Jayson Tatum, Grant Williams

· Center: Daniel Theis, Harry Giles, Robert Williams, Tacko Fall

While not quite as dynamic as the Ideal Version team, this group is still pretty good. And Boston keeps some of their younger talent in terms of Langford and draft picks. The starting five is the same, but the bench gets bolstered by Burks, Robinson and Giles. And because Ainge keeps Langford (and all the other youngsters) and #14 and #26 (draft and stash), there are trade assets to move in-season to upgrade the team.

This group is also considerably less expensive at about $6.5 million over the luxury tax. That’s a real tax bill of just over $10 million. That’s fairly reasonable for a title contender. And, it’s also eminently avoidable!

If Gordon Hayward opts out and re-signs for something in the range of a $25 million salary for 2020-21 in year-one of a three or four-year deal, all of a sudden Boston is under the tax. That opens up a host of possibilities. The Celtics could even have the full Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception available to use. That gives them all sorts of options for adding players to the roster. They’d also have the Bi-Annual Exception, and they should use it to add talent because they won’t likely have it in 2021-22 when Jayson Tatum’s contract extension kicks in.

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While the Ideal Version would create excitement and all sorts of buzz, it’s simply too expensive to be very likely. No ownership group wants to commit to that kind of tax bill in the current, uncertain financial environment.

The More Likely Version can be tweaked in all kinds of ways. Maybe you don’t like Harry Giles and would prefer Aron Baynes. Maybe you think Isaiah Thomas should be brought on instead of Alec Burks. Maybe you’re hopeful #14 can contribute right away vs being buried on the bench behind someone like Glenn Robinson III.

The point here was to really lay out that while a blockbuster deal involving Gordon Hayward is certainly feasible, it’s not overly likely. What we probably see for next season is tweaks around the edges with a team that is already a title contender. A vet here, a big there and voila, the Celtics are right back in the mix at the top of the Eastern Conference, but with more depth than in previous years.

What’s your preferred (and realistic!) roster for the 2020-21 Boston Celtics? Let us know in the comments!