Celtics Lining Up For Chance To Reset Roster

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Celtics Lining Up For Chance To Reset Roster Empty Celtics Lining Up For Chance To Reset Roster

Post by bobheckler Tue Jul 07, 2015 2:52 pm


Bulpett: Celtics lining up for chance to reset roster
Well under the cap, Ainge could strike big

Celtics Lining Up For Chance To Reset Roster 043015aingejw01
Ainge: Needs to take smart approach.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

By:  Steve Bulpett

SALT LAKE CITY — Their free agent work essentially completed last week, the Celtics have been digging in for the next round in the NBA’s summer sweepstakes.

Trade season unofficially commences when clubs find out what they can, and, more importantly, cannot, get in free agency. And the Celts, with draft picks and young bodies and trade exceptions, are ready to play.

Making his current roster better is probably Danny Ainge’s second goal during this time.

The first goal?

Don’t do anything stupid.

The president of basketball operations said in the past he wants to make sure he is prepared with the proper currency if and when an impact player becomes available in trade. For example, the Celts were bogged down with aging stars and did not have the capital to go after James Harden when Oklahoma City decided it could not afford to keep him along with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook for the long haul.

As it stands now, the Celtics are looking at a major window of opportunity next summer. The thinking around NBA front offices is that the salary cap for 2016-17 will be around $89 million as some of the revenue from the new television deals kick in.

Cap experts are saying the Celts could potentially get themselves some $50 million under that cap to around $39 million if they play their cards properly. That means they would have the ability to sign two free agents to maximum contracts.

You might want to ask why being able to sign two max guys would be a big deal when they can’t even seem to sign one. And that means you’re again leaving aside the fact that Kevin Garnett had to be recruited to Boston in a free agent-type situation, because the Celtics could not have made the trade with Minnesota without KG agreeing to an extension.

However, what we’ve learned even more this summer is that, once the money is relatively equal, players want to go where they can win. (Maybe you’d rather leave Boston for a warm weather city, but remember, NBA players don’t have to shovel snow.)

LaMarcus Aldridge turned down the bright lights of Los Angeles for San Antonio, a very nice place, but not exactly Hollywood. Greg Monroe said no to LA and New York to play in Milwaukee, thinking the Bucks were more ready to win than the Lakers or Knicks.

In fact, the Lakers struck out on Aldridge, Monroe and Kevin Love. The last two major free agent moves involving that storied franchise were Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol — wait for it — leaving.

So what, right? The Celtics aren’t ready to contend for a championship either.

Absolutely true, but having the space for two stars could be significant. First of all, it’s hard to get any great player to move. Most stay with their clubs, at least in part because NBA rules designed to try to keep teams together allow teams to give better deals to their own free agents. And it’s hard to see any one of them jumping at the chance to rebuild with the Celts.

But what about two?

It might actually be easier to recruit two stars, giving them a chance to play on the same side and all but guaranteeing a quicker move up the NBA’s food chain. However, none of this will ever come to pass if Ainge’s fondest basketball prayers are answered. It’s safe to say he’d much rather make a nice trade or two in the next couple of weeks and then make the fair catch signal as some club realizes it has to trade a player of great value because it risks losing him for no return in free agency.

Then the Celts might be one decent player away and have the kind of roster that would attract him. And once you build a team that can win, players will most definitely come. In what may be a bit of an extreme case, David West opted out of $12.6 million with Indiana to agree to a veteran minimum deal of some $1.5 million with the Spurs. And, yeah, the Knicks wanted him, too.

It’s important to recall that things weren’t all that exciting for the Celtics as they prepared for draft night in 2007. Then they traded for a shooter who was about to turn 32, and the presence of Ray Allen with the soon-to-be 30-year-old Paul Pierce got Garnett interested.

In that case, the dominoes fell in proper alignment for the Celtics, though the feeling here was that there had to be something more in the works — another shoe to drop — when they sent the No. 5 overall pick for Allen.

Similarly, one should not view in a vacuum any trade Ainge makes this summer. The Celtics are not going to get anything done now that will have them in the NBA Finals next June.

But they could do some things in the offseason that set them up for better things later. It may be hard to see five moves ahead on the NBA chessboard, and good fortune in the form of willing dance partners will still be required.

The key is keeping all those possibilities alive, and that can only happen if the Celtics avoid stepping in stupid.

MY NOTE:  Of the gaggle of regular Celtics beat writers I'd put Steve Bulpett and Jackie Mac up at the top (you pick the order).  They're both usually right, their sources are both usually solid and they don't usually just regurgitate the obvious like one writer whose name I'm drawing a Bla(n)kely on.


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