The Boston Celtics front office doesn't have an offseason. Danny Ainge and the rest of the team's executives are always working.
When it was announced that the salary cap for the 2017-2018 season would fall to $99 million, that put a dent in the general manager's plans. During his post-draft press conference, he admitted that the reduced cap space hurts the future outlook of his team.
"That hurt. That hurt a little bit. A little sting, but that's going to make it a little more challenging," the Celtics president of basketball operations said of the disappointing cap news, per the Boston Herald. "We'll be able to fix it. We're in foul trouble right now, but we'll be back. We'll be back in the second half."
But knowing Ainge and his staff, they'll find a way to make the Celtics a better team next season with better players from top to bottom.
After drafting Jayson Tatum third overall earlier this month during the NBA draft, the Celtics are building toward the future while also trying to win now. And the best way for Boston to raise banner No. 18 in TD Garden's rafters is by making the most out of free agency starting Saturday.
Gordon Hayward and Paul George
Wojnarowski reported Tuesday that Hayward signing for the Celtics could be the first domino to fall for Boston, as that would open the doors for a George trade with the potential for the forward to sign an extension to stay in Boston.
The Celtics will have to make some maneuvers to make the cap space work for Hayward, such as cutting ties with a combination of expendable players such as Tyler Zeller ($8 million), James Young ($1.8 million) or Amir Johnson ($8 million).
But trading for George and trying to sign him to an extension, which will be very costly, is where Ainge will have to make some difficult decisions.
Some of them will be coming sooner rather than later, particularly if Hayward does elect to sign with the Celtics. The clock is ticking on a George trade, and the Celtics can outmatch any offer if they choose to do so.
But putting together a monster offer of draft picks doesn't cut it this time since Boston has to deal with George's salary.
Adam Kaufman of WBZ News Radio reported that a potential deal in the works for George centers around key players for the Celtics, including future picks.
Adam Kaufman @AdamMKaufman
I'm told #Celtics offer to IND for George is LAL/SAC pick from PHI, '19 MEM OR LAC pick, Crowder, $$ filler (Zeller pop name, Bradley poss).2017-6-27 19:07:34
The Pacers don't have a lot of leverage in negotiations for George, but they can ask for two starters from Boston due to the Celtics' cap situation. It could be a win-win for both teams, given the circumstances, and it's probably the best offer that Indiana will receive as some teams are scared of trading George for the potential of a one-year rental.
Goodbye to Kelly Olynyk?
Say it ain't so, but Kelly Olynyk might have to go.
Wojnarowski reported Tuesday that Olynyk may be leaving Boston this summer to open up cap space to create flexibility, which would be a big blow to the Celtics bench.
Bobby Marks of The Vertical explained the importance of letting Olynyk walk:
Bobby Marks @BobbyMarks42
Kelly Olynyk has a $7.7m cap hold that would need to be released for Boston to use cap space.2017-6-27 23:16:43
A restricted free agent, Olynyk is going to command some big offers this offseason and rightfully so. The former Gonzaga standout has been a very solid rotational piece for the Celtics, spreading the floor and creating mismatches for opposing defenses.
While Olynyk is limited defensively and on the boards, he is a dynamic option on offense and can shoot the ball beyond the arc with a career clip of 36.8 percent from deep.
Celtics fans would miss his impact off the bench and never forget his clutch 26-point outburst during Game 7 against the Washington Wizards in the second round of the playoffs last month, but the opportunity to have George and Hayward wearing green next season is too good to pass up.
Salary-cap figures are courtesy of Basketball Reference.