Guest post by longtime Celtics Life reader Jeremiah Shane Giles
My Prediction on the 2014-2015 Boston Celtics Roster
First things first: Like most of you, I consider myself to be diehard Celtics fan. I am 34 years old. I have rooted for the Celtics since I was very young, through the lean years and the good years, so I’m not some bandwagon fan, and I’m not some guy who doesn’t remember how Larry, McHale, & Parrish played. However, I’m also not old enough to really understand how Hondo played, or Russell, or anyone else before the 80s. I can only get a feel for them through reading stats, stories, and watching film.
In any event, I say that to give you some perspective and to reveal any bias I may have. I do not claim to be objective.
In shaping the 2014-2015 Celtics Roster, our starting point has to be a discussion of which players are currently under guaranteed contracts for next year. For that information, I have prepared this graph, with information provided by www.basketball-reference.com. Here is the graph:
2014-2015 Guaranteed Salary
Now for a few noteworthy additions:
There are several players with non-guaranteed deals. The only one I see returning is Chris Johnson, who the team holds an option that pays $915,243.
There is then the issue of restricted free agents. There are several directions the Celtics can go here. However, the first issue that will need to be dealt with is what to do with Avery Bradley. According to multiple reports at the time, Bradley turned down an extension in the range of 4 years at $6 million per year. He turned that down at the start of the 2014-2014 season and decided to gamble on proving he was worth more this past year. He partly succeeded, but mostly failed. His game showed marked improvement, especially on the offensive end of the floor, but he failed in that he was again shown to be injury prone. I think most fans would agree that whether we keep Bradley depends on what the market dictates. If we get him for $6 million or less per season, we keep him. If someone offers more, we let him walk. My first guess involving the roster is that I guess that the market will be tough for Bradley and he resigns at about $6 million per year.
That then brings us to the only other Free Agent that I see the Celtics considering re-signing. That would be Kris Humphries. “Hump” won over almost all of us this season in Boston, and showed there is still a place for him as a good, solid, rotational big in the NBA. That being said, I think someone offers him more than the Celtics should play, given the plethora of Power Forwards with guaranteed contracts on the Celtics.
This brings us to the next part of our discussion, the salary cap.
According to www.cbssports.com, currently, the projected NBA salary cap for 2014-2015 is $63.2 Million. The all-important Luxury Tax Threshold is projected at $77 Million.
This means that as of now, assuming Bradley re-signs at $6 Million, and Hump is not retained, the Celtics salaries for next season would be $54,750,226. Leaving the Celtics with some decent wiggle room when it comes to available monies for next season.
However, the Celtics will be on the hook for $2,736,100 in salary to be paid to their #6 overall lottery pick and $1,395,400 to the paid to the 17th pick that Boston is owed from the Brooklyn Nets. (Salary information provided by www.basketballinsiders.com).
Where do we go from here?
My next assumption/guess is that there are NOT major fireworks going off in Boston this summer. I realize I could be very wrong about this, but here is my reasoning. We are in a rebuild. These things take time. We all knew we were tanking this past season. It was our only choice. Next season, the goal will be to evaluate and see how many games we can win. (Thank God!). However, the goal will not be to contend for a Championship.
The Celtics need to see how second-year coach Brad Stevens and Captain Point Guard Rajon Rondo perform together with an off-season and training camp spent together. They have to see how this plays out before going in any other definite direction. You don’t just dump Rondo for assets before knowing how great the Stevens-Rondo alliance could be with a healthy Rondo from the beginning of training camp. None of us know what to expect because we haven’t gotten a chance to see it in action. It would be stupid to act on incomplete information. Therefore, I assume Rondo will be on the roster to start the season.
Next up, nobody is taking Jeff Green, Gerald Wallace, Joel Anthony, or Vitor Favarani off our hands without us throwing in sweeteners, and I just don’t see that happening. Therefore, we’re stuck with these guys for at least another year. (We could use the stretch provision on Wallace, but paying him money to sit at home doesn’t make much sense. It’d be better to hope against the odds that he has a rebound year and then we can give him away somehow).
With all these guys eating up playing time, I don’t see the Celtics making any big moves on Free Agents that would bring the Celtics anywhere close to the luxury threshold. (Why pay that tax when you can’t win a championship?). Sure, plenty of people would like to see a move made for Kevin Love, but in my opinion, that is the WRONG move. Kevin Love will not put us in Championship Contender Mode. He cannot even make the post-season and he has been in the league for SIX seasons. Moreover, consider this comparison chart between Kevin Love and Jared Sullinger.
Freshman College Season (Per 40)
NBA First Season (Per 36)
NBA Second Season (Per 36)
I’m not going to say much more about Kevin Love vs. Jared Sullinger, but keep in mind, Sully did this while very hurt and mostly playing out of position. There is every reason to believe that after this season he will be a similar player to Kevin Love and playing at a fraction of the cost. (Oh, and we already OWN him). We don’t have to part with ANY assets to land him. Put your blinders on to someone who is “already a star” if you want, but Danny Ainge isn’t that short-sighted. Kevin Love isn’t walking through that door, and we shouldn’t want him to.
Likely the Celtics will draft on best available talent and try and give the young guys lots of burn. I see them going with Noah Vonleh, Marcus Smart, or someone in that talent range with the first pick. With the next pick, I would guess the Celtics would pick up a wing. Someone like TJ Warren, James Young, Rodney Hood, or P.J. Hairston. Any two of these guys will bring legitimate NBA talent to a Celtics team that really needs it.
By giving these guys some running time along with a healthy rondo, a hopefully improved sophomore in Kelly Olynyk, and hopefully the great 3rd year jump by Jared Sullinger (especially considering this will be his first healthy year and he might be somewhat in shape for the first time), I think it is entirely the most likely scenario that the Celtics give that roster a shot without any other major moves.
That roster should be in the conversation for a lower playoff seed, and at that point, more decisions can be made on how to grow the roster into a true championship contender.
In 2015-2016, the Celtics will be a young roster, with hopefully a couple of studs with some playoff experience, lots of draft picks, and a LOT of cap space.
In 2014-2015 the Celtics will mostly stay put. They are too locked into contracts that are unmovable, and they have not had enough time to see core players (Rondo, Sullinger, et al) play healthy. Therefore, more observation time is required. However, after that – our future is bright, and most importantly, we don’t have to root for losses again for another decade or so.
Jeremiah Shane Giles is an Attorney who practices law full-time at his own law firm. He is married to his beautiful wife Rachel, and they live with their two cats and one dog in a small town. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.