Full Player Salary Rundown and Financial Health Breakdown for Boston Celtics
However, with Ray Allen now in Miami, and with the remaining members of Boston's "Big Three"—Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett—rapidly approaching the end of the careers, the makeup of the Celtics' roster will be markedly different a few years from now.
Point guard Rajon Rondo appears to be the cornerstone that the franchise will build around going forward, but Boston will have to figure out how to surround him with complementary players while also allowing Pierce and Garnett to end their respective careers in a Celtics' uniform.
That said, despite any allegiances that the Celtics may have to the players that brought them a title four years ago, the NBA's financial structure will force Boston's front office to make some difficult decisions in the very near future.
So, with the 2012-13 season slowly approaching on the horizon, let's take a look at the current financial health of the Boston Celtics.
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Paul Pierce (1): $16.79M in 2012-13 (2 years, $32.12M remaining)
Kevin Garnett (2): $11.57M in 2012-13 (2 years, $36M remaining)
Rajon Rondo: $11M in 2012-13 (2 years, $35.86M remaining)
Jeff Green (3): $8.385M in 2012-13 (4 years, $36.24M remaining)
Brandon Bass: $6M in 2012-13 (3 years, $19.35M remaining)
Courtney Lee: $5M in 2012-13, (4 years, $21.35M remaining)
Jason Terry: $5M in 2012-13 (3 years, $15.68M remaining)
Avery Bradley (4): $1.63M in 2012-13 (2 years, $4.14M remaining)
Jared Sullinger (5): $1.3M in 2012-13 (4 years, $6.36M remaining)
Fab Melo (5): $1.25M in 2012-13 (4 years, $6.18M remaining)
Jason Collins: $854K in 2012-13 (1 year, $854K remaining)
Chris Wilcox: $854K in 2012-13 (1 year, $854K remaining)
Darko Milicic: $854K in 2012-13 (1 year, $854K remaining)
Dionte Christmas/Kris Joseph/Jamar Smith/Micah Downs (6): $473K in 2012-13—partially guaranteed (2 years, $1.26M remaining)
Rob Kurz: $726K in 2012-13—non-guaranteed (1 year, $726K remaining)
Total guaranteed player salary for 2012-13: $70,522,217
The Celtics are way over the NBA's salary cap of $58.044 million, but are only slightly above the luxury tax threshold of $70.307 million. As such, any dollar-for-dollar penalties that they'll have to pay for being in excess of the threshold in 2012-13 will be minimal.
(1) Paul Pierce has a $15.33 million team option in 2013-14.
(2) Only 50 percent of the $12 million due Kevin Garnett in 2014-15 is guaranteed.
(3) Jeff Green has a $9.445 million player option in 2015-16.
(4) Avery Bradley has a $2.5 million team option in 2013-14.
(5) The Celtics hold team options on Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo for both the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.
(6) The contracts for Christmas, Joseph, Smith and Downs are all partially guaranteed.
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Boston should be commended for honoring its original commitment to Jeff Green after he missed the entire 2011-12 season after undergoing heart surgery in January. That said, a four-year, $36 million deal for a player who doesn't figure to start for at least the next two years is a bit excessive.
Green was solid in the 26 games that he played for Boston in 2010-11, averaging 9.8 points on 48.5 percent shooting following a midseason trade from Oklahoma City. The 6'9" forward will be Paul Pierce's primary backup in 2012-13, and is clearly the most talented reserve in the Boston Celtics' frontcourt.
Even so, a $6 million per year pact would have been more reasonable for Green, especially because it was unlikely that he would have signed with another team this offseason. Green appears to be Boston's only financial misstep, however. The contracts for the rest of the roster are extremely cap-friendly.
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Rajon Rondo is one of the finest point guards in the NBA, and the Celtics will essentially get him at a discounted rate (an average of $12 million per season) for the next three years.
If the 26-year-old Rondo was a free agent this past summer, he would have been in line for a max deal rivaling that of Brooklyn Nets' star Deron Williams (five years, $100 million). Rondo led the league in assists last season (11.7 per game), and averaged 11.9 points per night while guiding Boston to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Avery Bradley proved that he was a starting caliber player during his sophomore season, averaging 7.6 points per game—on nearly 50 percent shooting—in 2011-12. With two years remaining on Bradley's rookie contract, the Boston front office won't have any major financial decision to make regarding their young guard until the summer of 2014.
There are very few on-ball defenders more tenacious than Bradley, and once the 21-year-old recovers from offseason shoulder surgery, the Celtics will have one of the better backcourt rotations in the entire NBA. Courtney Lee is penciled in at shooting guard in Bradley's absence, and if Boston plays well early on, expect Bradley to assume a reserve role in 2012-13.
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Paul Pierce's contract for the 2013-14 season isn't guaranteed, but it would be a complete shock if he finishes his career in anything other than a Boston Celtics' uniform. However, his age (34) and salary ($15.33 million in 2013-14) will cause the Celtics' front office to take pause next summer, and if Boston thinks that it can make a big splash in the 2013 free agent market, it may choose to set "The Truth" free.
Jason Collins/Chris Wilcox/Darko Milicic
The Celtics signed three players to the veteran minimum this offseason—Jason Collins, Chris Wilcox, Darko Milicic—but none of them will play any significant role in a trade other than filler.
Possible Trade Chips
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Boston holds a $15.33 million option on Paul Pierce for the 2013-14 season, but the odds that the team would include him in any potential deal is extremely remote. Pierce has been the Celtics' best player for virtually his entire career, and it would be hard to envision the franchise trading one of its all-time greats.
Pierce is just one of a number of players on the Celtics' roster that are attractive to other teams, but it's doubtful that any of them will be moved during the season.
Financial Outlook for the Future
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Barring a trade, the top 10 players in the Celtics' rotation will all be back 12 months from now. All are signed for at least two years, and the team is already committed to more than $73 million in salary for the 2013-14 season.
Simply put, unless Boston chooses not to pick up Pierce's option (unlikely), they won't be a player in next summer's free agent frenzy. Considering that the team is already primed for a deep run in the Eastern Conference playoffs, the fact that they have little short-term financial flexibility isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Interesting decisions are on the horizon in regards to both Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley. Rondo has three more years left on his deal, but Boston would be well-served in getting him locked up long term if at all possible. That may be difficult, however, because most players (with the notable exception of Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka) let their current deals expire before re-upping with their current teams.
Bradley, meanwhile, will be a restricted free agent in 2014, and while the team probably wants to keep him in the fold, they'll have nearly $23 million committed to Rondo, Jason Terry and Courtney Lee two seasons from now.
Biggest Looming Financial Decision
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Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett
From a salary cap perspective, things will get extremely interesting for the Boston Celtics two years from now. Paul Pierce's contract will make him a free agent at that point, and the team will be forced to decide if they want to commit themselves to a player who will be 36 years old heading into the 2014-15 season. If Pierce wants to remain with the Celtics, a pay cut seems all but certain.
Half of Garnett's 2014-15 salary of $12 million is guaranteed, but if his play declines significantly over the next two seasons, it isn't a given that Boston will keep him on the roster until his deal runs out. Garnett will be 38 two years from now, and with the luxury tax penalties set to get stiffer in the coming seasons, money and age may be working against the forward's desire to retire in a Boston Celtics' uniform.
Grading Financial Health of the Boston Celtics
Most teams around the league would kill to be in the Celtics' financial position. The team is relatively deep, and even with three stars on the roster, Boston is barely in luxury tax territory. The Celtics also happen to be one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, so it's hard to argue with the moves Danny Ainge and company have made (at least in the short term).
Should they choose, Boston could have a fair amount of flexibility in the coming years, but that would likely mean cutting ties with Paul Pierce. Other than the inevitable max contract that will be extended to Rondo, the Celtics' primary financial issues concern players who will be at the end of their careers. And if the team decides to part ways with both Pierce and Garnett in 2014-15, they could have enough money to land a high-level free agent that summer.
If Jeff Green regains the form that he showed in Oklahoma City, his contract is attractive enough to be used as a trade chip down the road. While Green is versatile enough to play both the 3 and 4 positions, he may be more valuable to the team in a trade, provided that Jared Sullinger and Kris Joseph make successful transitions to the NBA.
With a solid core in place for the long haul (Rondo, Avery Bradley, Brandon Bass, Courtney Lee, Green, Jason Terry, Sullinger, Melo), Boston appears to be well-prepared for the post-Pierce era. However, given that none of the aforementioned players projects to be a superstar, the Celtics will need to figure out who'll help Rondo carry the load in the future. But for now, Boston is in pretty good shape, all things considered.