NBA Free Agents 2011: Boston Celtics Would Be Better off Re-Signing Own Players
Like many teams in the league, the Celtics will face a couple of polarizing decisions on how to fill out their rosters this year. Boston is one team in particular that has a lot of free agents, so the team will have to make quick decisions regarding their future in order to stay competitive.
Should the team re-sign Glen Davis, Jeff Green and Delonte West? Is it possible for them to go after one of these guys and then bring in a decent player like Carl Landry or Shane Battier?
Which players should they look to for veteran minimums? Allen Iverson, anyone?
While these questions are flying among fans who would like to speculate on the Celtics' plans, it’s a lot more streamlined than some might think. Of course, while this year’s free agency period has only two major scenarios for Boston, how they work themselves out is anybody’s guess.
In an attempt to clarify the Celtics' free agency situation, here are two ways the team can stay competitive while satisfying the question of whether or not they should go after their own free agents.
The Celtics' current roster has all of its starters in place for next season, but is very thin after that; meaning that the team will be expected to sign a large number of players during free agency. Boston has rookies JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore to go along with Avery Bradley, but no guarantees after that.
This leaves the Celtics with six or seven players to round out the final roster. It’s important to keep in mind that Boston is still paying Shaquille O’Neal and Rasheed Wallace (not eligible for the amnesty clause) this year, so the money for free agents is extremely tight.
The Celtics will be a major player during next year’s free agency period but for now, the team will have to rely on role-players to aid the team in reaching the playoffs this season.
But just offering contracts and re-signing their own free agents won’t be easy. The luxury tax guidelines could prohibit a guy like Glen Davis from returning to the team if Boston wants to add quality players.
For this season, fans need to keep their expectations in tow, because Boston isn’t going to break the bank on any of the “superstars” available starting on December 9th.
Scenario 1: Re-Sign Glen Davis, Jeff Green and Delonte West
The Boston Celtics' roster will either see the team try to re-sign all of their key free agents or none of them at all. This issue revolves around the mid-level exception according the proposed rules of the new CBA.
It’s a mildly confusing situation, but SI.com summed it up nicely. The gist of the article suggests that the Celtics will be able to spend around $4 million on free agents this year after retaining their own players. Anything over that amount will prohibit the team from bringing these guys back because of the luxury tax guidelines.
Luckily, it’s not a situation that dooms the team, it’s just an ultimatum that suggests the Celtics either sign them all, or the players on last year’s team walk.
If Boston re-signs all three players, the team will then use the leftover money to sign three players to deals at the veteran minimum.
Based on last year’s salary cap numbers, the team could still go after experienced veterans like Allen Iverson and Vladimir Radmanovic, while throwing a couple of bucks at a younger, unrestricted free agent.
Iverson and Radmanovic would cost the team roughly $1.4 million apiece, leaving just enough money to sign a guy who’s been in the league for around five years. A center should be targeted, so think along the lines of Solomon Jones or “The Human Free-Throw Machine,” Krylo Fesenko (39.1 percent last season).
The alternative to players like Jones or Fesenko, if the team wants 15 players versus 14, is to sign an undrafted rookie and a player with no more than a year of experience.
Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, Jermaine O’Neal, Jeff Green, Glen Davis, Delonte West, Avery Bradley, JaJuan Johnson, E’Twaun Moore, Allen Iverson, Vladimir Radmanovic, Solomon Jones.
Scenario 2: Davis, Green and West Do Not Return
It would be an unfortunate turn of events for Celtics fans, but if the team would prefer to use their MLE on a better-than-average veteran, the former three players mentioned are history.
In this scenario, the Celtics wouldn’t be forced to sign three players to veteran minimums, so they could target more attractive players, but would it be worth it? So many new players could create chemistry issues, but if Davis prices himself out of town there is no alternative.
Let’s keep Iverson and Radmanovic on the roster for this example. They’d still be relatively inexpensive players, maybe earning above the league minimum now.
Next, the team would target a decent player. Would an amnesty clause candidate be a strong fit for the Celtics?
Rashard Lewis will most likely become available, but is he any better than Glen Davis at this point?
Gilbert Arenas is another likely player, but again, is he better than Delonte West right now?
This scenario doesn’t make a lot of sense for the Celtics, but if they had to find a player to sign, Carl Landry would be a good start.
Landry doesn’t jump off the page, but he’s a good player. It just depends on whether or not he thinks he can make more than $5-6 million per season. Plus, with Garnett’s possible departure next season, the Celtics need to target a big man who they could lock into a Bird-year contract for the following season.
Jason Richardson is another player who might sign for the MLE, but he doesn’t fill a big need for Boston. Richardson can still ball, but would come off of the bench behind Ray and Pierce, so he doesn’t make sense, but could be acquired.
Shane Battier would be a nice addition to the Celtics. He’d be worth the MLE but will likely be a popular player on the market on December 9th, so Boston will have to fight for him. Battier will have the luxury of playing where he wishes.
Outside of these players, there isn’t anyone really deserving of the full MLE, so if none of those guys pan out, the Celtics will split the money among less enticing names such as Craig Smith, Grant Hill, Reggie Evans, Josh Howard, Anthony Parker, Caron Butler, Mike Dunleavy, Tracy McGrady and Jared Jeffries.
Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, Jermaine O’Neal, Avery Bradley, JaJuan Johnson, E’Twaun Moore, Craig Smith, Josh Howard, Anthony Parker, Allen Iverson, Vladimir Radmanovic, undrafted rookie center.
Since the Celtics can only use part of their MLE on veteran minimums, or the full amount on average players, it’s important to remember there are some players they cannot target at all.
Those fans pining for Tyson Chandler or Tayshaun Prince have to remember that these guys are unobtainable for Boston, since they will earn salaries above the MLE. The MLE is an exception rule and cannot be exceeded.
The same goes for players like Samuel Dalenbert, David West, Kris Humphries and Nene.
The Boston Celtics need to re-sign their own players this upcoming year, or risk a first-round defeat in the playoffs. The starters are still elite but without any bench help, the team will not be able to sustain a healthy run deep into the postseason.
The ideal situation sees the team pick up a couple of veteran pieces to round out their team, while hopefully getting extra production beyond the value of those contracts.
Allen Iverson is a guy who could be worth more than his salary, a reason why he is being connected to the Celtics. Radmanovic is another guy whose production could worth more than a minimum deal.
December 9th will be a crazed time in the NBA, so predicting the consolation players the Celtics add isn’t as important as it is to the team’s going out and re-signing their three big free agents.
Keep the team intact, and make one more run before next season’s huge free agency period.