The 2021 off-season was a turning point for Celticswho saw Danny Ainge move away from his longtime role as president of the basketball team and Brad Stevens move from the lobby to the main office to replace Ainge in this role. First head coach Ime Udoka was hired as Stevens’ replacement, and Stevens’ first major move on the roster was to end Kemba Walker era in Boston, sending him to Oklahoma City with a first-round pick Al Horford.
If you watched the Celtics in the first half of the season, you might be forgiven for doubting the wisdom of these off-season maneuvers. Boston was still below .500 in the middle of the regular season as observers were dubious about hiring Udoka and speculated about the possibility of the star wings breaking. Jason Tatum as well as Jaylen Brown.
However, soon after the middle of the season, everything fell into place. Since January 22, the Celtics have had the best record (28-7), the best offensive rating (120.2), as well as best defensive rating (104.8) in the NBA, moved up the Eastern Conference standings to second place.
Some lineup changes at the trade deadline, including a significant replacement Dennis Schroeder, Josh Richardsonas well as Enes Freedom With Derrick White as well as Daniel Theis – Helped the cause, but the Celtics’ starters also made great progress during the year, working hard to build chemistry and find the right roles for each player after Marcus Smart publicly chided Tatum and Brown for their performance in the first month of the season.
Impressive win streaks over Brooklyn, Milwaukee and Miami gave the Celtics a spot in the NBA Finals, but after taking a 2-1 lead, the Cs eventually lost to the Warriors in six games. Although missing the championship was a bitter pill to swallow, the season in Boston should be considered a huge success, considering how things were in January.
Celtics plan for the offseason:
Of the 15 players who have completed the season under standard contracts with the Celtics, 12 are under contract for the 2022-23 season. Two – Sam Houser as well as Juvan Morgan – have team options for their trades, but only one – Luc Cornet – Faces unlimited free will. Considering these three players totaled 247 minutes for Boston last season, it’s unlikely they’ll be top offseason priorities – perhaps one or two players will return, but no more than for the veterans.
With no key player moving to free agency or being selected in the first round, the Celtics’ offseason to-do list won’t be as long as it was a year ago, but the team still has some roster decisions to make.
To start with, three of those 12 players are on contract for next season with non-guaranteed or partially guaranteed salaries. It won’t be hard to guarantee the remaining $7 million on Horford’s expiring $26.5 million deal, but Nick Stauskas as well as Malik Fittswhose minimum wage contracts are not guaranteed are not return locks.
If the Celtics let Cornet, Morgan and Houser go free, and waived Stauskas and Fitts before they were guaranteed a paycheck, they would have up to five vacancies on their 15-man roster, which would open the door to front- office. a market for veterans looking to compete for the title on minimum wage deals.
With virtually every player in the playoff rotation due to return, Boston may not be able to offer a significant role to any free agents. However, the option to join a title contender is attractive, and the team will have a mid-career taxpayer exemption at their disposal if they choose to use it – that could be crucial for a veteran free agent who wouldn’t have an interest in a minimum deal. .
Looking into the trading market for increased rotation is one path the Celtics could take, especially since Stevens has shown a real willingness to act and close deals since taking over the reins in the front office. Boston has made nine trades since its promotion. However, given how well the current group has performed in the postseason, Stevens is likely to be more cautious about changes in the offseason.
Even if their 2022-23 roster doesn’t change much, the Celtics will have to think about what the team will look like. outside next season. Grant Williams is eligible for a rookie extension this offseason after proving he can play a key role in big games in this year’s playoffs.
A year ago, Boston signed Robert Williams to a $48 million four-year extension (plus promotions), which looked like a roll of the dice based on Williams’ injury history and track record at the time. If the Celtics are optimistic about Grant Williams’ development path and can sign him at an equally favorable price for the team, it would be wise to act early again to avoid the risk of him becoming significantly more expensive a year from now.
Brown and Horford are also eligible for extensions this offseason, but there is probably no rush to lock up any of the players. Brown is still two years away from free will, and Horford has just turned 36. Expanding a player at this age is generally an unnecessary risk as you never know when he will lose a step and see his value plummet.
The situation with the salary cap
Note. Our salary cap numbers are based on the league’s latest forecast ($122M) for 2022/23.
- Jason Tatum ($30,351,780)
- Jaylen Brown ($28,741,071)
- Al Horford ($19,500,000) – Partial Guarantee. The non-guaranteed part is listed below.
- Marcus Smart ($17,207,142)
- Derrick White ($16,892,857)
- Robert Williams ($10,937,502)
- Daniel Theis ($8,694,369)
- Grant Williams ($4,306,281)
- Aaron Nesmith ($3,804,360)
- Payton Pritchard ($2,239,200)
- Demetrius Jackson ($92,857) – Withdrawn as a stretch clause.
- Total: $142,767,419
Restricted free agents
Bilateral free agents
- General Choice No. 53 (no lid hold)
Players eligible for renewal
Note. These are players who are either already eligible for an extension or will become eligible before the start of the 2022/23 season.
- Jaylen Brown (veteran)
- Al Horford (veteran)
- Grant Williams (novice scale)
Unlimited free agents / other limits
Having narrowly avoided the luxury tax in 2021/22, the Celtics could theoretically try to do it again next season, but I would be surprised if it became a top priority after the club has benefited financially from the postseason extension.
Once Horford’s salary is secured, Boston will already be on a projected $149 million tax line for just 10 players. Even populating the roster with minimum-wage players would put the team’s salary in tax territory, so tax evasion would require at least one or two cost-cutting deals.
Exceptions to restrictions available
- Exception for the mid-tier taxpayer: $6,392,000 5
- Trade exception: $17,142,857
- Trade exception: $6,907,815
- Trade exception: $5,890,000
- Trade exception: $3,804,360
- Trade exception: $2,161,152
- Trade exception: $1,910,860
- Trade exception: $1,782,621
- Trade exception: $1,669,178
- Trade exception: $1,440,549
- Trade exception: $500,000
- Morgan’s salary will remain unsecured even if his option is exercised.
- Houser’s salary will be partially guaranteed ($300,000) if his option is exercised.
- Stauskas’ salary will be fully guaranteed after 15 July.
- Fitts’s salary will become part-guaranteed ($50,000) after September 1.
- This is the predicted value. Instead, the Celtics can access a full mid-level exemption ($10,349,000) and a biennial exemption ($4,050,000) if they remain below the tax bracket.