The Boston Celtics entered the 2013-14 season in rebuilding mode. This team was never built to be a contender or fight for an NBA title. The Celtics’ management has been extremely wise in terms of managing the team, though.
For one, there are plenty of non-guaranteed and rookie scale contracts on the roster. It’ll be surprising to see guys like Keith Bogans, Jeryd Bayless, Joel Anthony, Phil Pressey, and Chris Johnson as part of the team’s future. The whole point of them having non-guaranteed contracts is so the team wouldn’t be responsible for paying them if they were to waive or trade them later on.
The Celtics also have a huge expiring contract that will help clear up salary space after this season – Kris Humphries, who is the highest paid player on the team making $12 million. This will enable them to acquire free agents who can serve as role players that will surround whoever they decide to draft this year with their lottery pick.
The team is also doing a good job transitioning to be a contender again. Management is doing its best to make this rebuilding process quick. They already have somewhat of a homegrown core. Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger, Avery Bradley, and Jeff Green were all either drafted by the Celtics or acquired by the team on draft day. They’re all young enough to be part of the future for the team. All but Bradley, who has a team option, are under contract for next year.
The Celtics don’t have too many bad contracts that handicap their ability to stay under the luxury tax or salary cap. They are currently above the salary cap and are on the brink of hitting the luxury tax, but this should be alleviated once Humphries’ contract is off the books.
If there is a bad contract the Celtics do have, it’s Gerald Wallace, who they acquired from the Brooklyn Nets in the Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce trade. Wallace will be making over $10 million until 2016, but he’s only averaging 4.8 points per game this year. Not exactly bang for your buck. That being said, because the Celtics have so many non-guaranteed contracts, giving $10 million and change to Wallace for the next two years won’t hurt them too much.
Brandon Bass is another guy who is under contract for next season. He will be making over $6 million next year, but his play is showing that he deserves it as he’s averaging close to 11 points and six rebounds per game.
Rounding out the roster is Vitor Faverani and Kelly Olynyk, who are both under rookie scale contracts. The Celtics can potentially keep Olynyk on a rookie scale contract until 2018, assuming they pick up his two team options and he accepts a qualifying offer in 2017-18. That’s good value for a guy who was taken in the middle of the first round last year.
Going into next season, the Celtics guaranteed sum of player salaries will be close to $44.7 million. Assuming they pick up Bradley’s team option, that total will be around $48.3 million. The salary cap this season is $58.7 million. Assuming it’s bumped up to $59 million for next year, the Celtics will have some wiggle room to add a couple of modest free agents before using their mid-level exception.
Let’s not forget that they’ll also have to sign their draft picks from this year. Fortunately, they will be rookie scale contracts and won’t be that detrimental to their cap space.
Once again, it’s important to note that the team could make use of their non-guaranteed contracts and either waive or trade those guys in order to open up more cap space.
All in all, the Celtics are in good hands. With potentially five draft picks over the next two years, developing cap space starting this summer, and a respectable core, the team should be able to bounce back into the playoffs in the weak Eastern Conference as early as next season.