Before the Boston Celtics can dive into the free-agent market, they need to make some decisions regarding some of their own.
Who will the Celtics deem worthy of another season in green? Who will the team decide it’s better off without?
It all comes down to priorities.
As it stands, Boston has a guaranteed total of $62,604,091 tied up among 10 players on the payroll in a projected $58.5 million cap. That still doesn’t include the impending decisions on Paul Pierce or the team’s free agents.
At the very least—if the Celtics choose to waive him by June 31—Pierce will end up costing the team an additional $5 million. That would put Boston at $67.60 million on the books. The team would be cutting it close to the estimated luxury tax threshold of $71.6 million.
That only makes the decision on the Celtics’ free agents all the more important.
Looking back at this past season, Wilcox has got to be kicking himself.
After a productive 2011-12 campaign for Boston, the 30-year-old was seen as a valuable asset to the team off the bench. As a result, the Celtics brass re-signed him over the offseason.
That’s a decision GM Danny Ainge likely wishes he could have back.
During 61 contests this year, Wilcox averaged just 4.2 points and 2.9 rebounds over 13.6 minutes per game. He was also lackluster on the defensive end, posting a defensive rating of 101.6.
In comparison, last season Wilcox averaged 5.4 points and 4.4 rebounds over 17.2 minutes per game. He also posted a defensive rating of 97. Wilcox saved his best for the starting lineup, averaging 11 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in four starts.
Poor defensive rotations mixed in with poor work ethic left Wilcox as a frequent feature in head coach Doc Rivers’ doghouse.
The fact that the power forward only logged a total of six minutes during Boston’s first-round series with the New York Knicks has made it quite clear that he has no future on this team.
The Verdict: let him walk
Unless you carefully studied the box scores, it would be pretty tough to recognize White as a member of the Celtics.
That’s because the 26-year-old rarely saw the court. He only clocked in at 7.2 minutes per game in the 12 contests he appeared in. In that time, White was pretty ineffective, averaging just 2.4 points and 1.1 rebounds per game.
While to his credit, it isn’t easy to make much of an impact on a game in just seven minutes. However, while White was on the court, he rarely, if ever, did anything to raise eyebrows.
In fact, during the two contests he played more than 10 minutes in, White averaged only 5.5 points (3-of-11 shooting) and 3.5 rebounds over 22 minutes per game. Not to mention, he was a major liability on defense, blowing several defensive assignments and failing to assert himself inside the paint.
Essentially, the only role White served for Boston this season was to provide the team with another big man. Going forward, that’s a position Fab Melo can easily step into—no pun intended.
Verdict: let him walk
Randolph has easily been one of the biggest surprises for the Celtics. He’s shown the toughness and grit that the team could really use.
Who would have expected that from a player brought in from China on a 10-day contract?
In 16 games, Randolph averaged 4.2 points and 4.4 rebounds over just 12.4 minutes per night. That averages out to 12.2 points and 12.7 rebounds per 36 minutes—the highest rebounding average on the roster.
Randolph has also shown that he has no problem putting his body on the line for Boston.
In just a short span, the 29-year-old jumped up to fifth on the team in charges taken. He drew an impressive total of seven charges in just 16 games. In comparison, Paul Pierce led the team with 22 in 77 games.
It’s the little things like this that will make a coach favor a player. So it came as no surprise that Randolph rose up in Rivers’ big man rotation.
For a team that could desperately use some help inside the paint, Randolph is a player that the Celtics just can’t afford to lose.
This is a tough one.
Before he was arrested on an domestic charge allegation last month, Williams was a sure thing to return to Boston. However, with the possibility that he could face jail time and a suspension by the NBA, his future with the team looks to be in jeopardy.
Not to mention, Williams announced on May 29 that he was undergoing minor surgery. It was later revealed that it was on one of his knees.
With that said, is the 25-year-old really worth the risk to bring back?
His performance this past season certainly argues in his favor.
In 24 contests, Williams averaged 4.6 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists over 13.3 minutes per game. He also shot 49.5 percent from the floor. He was a key addition to the Celtics following the losses of both Rondo and Leandro Barbosa.
With the team in dire need of a ball-handler, Williams answered the call. He finished with the second-highest assist ration on the team (22.9), only trailing Rondo. Williams also displayed brilliant ball control, only turning the ball over 22 times over 318 minutes during the regular season.
He was no doubt a vital piece to Boston’s success this year.
That was most evident during the team’s Game 5 victory against the Knicks, with Rivers handing Williams 17 minutes of floor time. He finished with four points, four rebounds and two assists.
Williams has a bright future in the league. Let’s just hope his off-court issues don’t get in the way of that.
Verdict: re-sign him
Summing It All Up
Whatever course Ainge and the front office take, they need to ensure it is the right decision.
Who should the Celtics No. 1 priority be to re-sign?
With how tight the Celtics cap room is right now, the team can’t afford to bring on even more dead weight. Boston already has that issue with a couple players who failed to live up to expectations last season (i.e. Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, etc.).
However, if the team chooses to bring back any of these guys, they all should come at a relatively low cost. So the risk is a lot less this time around.
But then again, every dollar counts.
Let the chess game begin.