Danny Ainge showing patience with 15th roster spot - but the itch is still there
Danny Ainge has not always been this patient. His lack of patience can never be compared to the I-need-to-do-something-right-now rashness of former Celtics exec Rick Pitino, but he sometimes acted in haste. With a reference to Star Wars' Obi-wan, Danny has learned patience.
I cannot teach him. The boy has no patience.
He will learn patience.
With the Marcus Smart free-agency saga dragging on, he needs it desperately. Celtics fans and writers just want this matter resolved. Beyond bringing back a vital key in last season's playoff run, there is the matter of the salary cap.
The salary cap for 2018-19 is set at $101,869,000 and the luxury tax line is at $123,733,000. The Celtics currently have 14 players signed for a total of roughly $115,120,000, excluding Smart's 6.1 million qualifying offer.
Boston is caught in a dilemma where they would like to avoid luxury tax territory this year, but tendering anything close to what Marcus is seeking would put them into it. Danny has recently signed 6'4" Brad Wanamaker to the 14th slot, and 6'3" Walt Lemon, Jr. is projected to take one of the two 2-way player spots. These two guards are 28 and 26 years old, respectively, so Ainge is looking for seasoned players to add to the team, possibly to compensate for Marcus Smart's departure, should that occur.
Still waiting on...
Luc Mbah a Moute
Also, will Jahlil Okafor play in the NBA this season?
In the available-player list above, Jabari Parker and Luc Mbah a Moute are off the table, but others are still out there. Danny also made Jabari Bird a qualifying offer as a 2-way player, but he is seeking a standard contract with Boston or another NBA team. When asked about Bird's free-agent status, he voiced both patience and a possible message to Jabari and his agent:
"Still in the works," Ainge said, via The Boston Herald's Mark Murphy. "We're evaluating the basketball world. There's a lot of players out there."
"Evaluating the basketball world" - "lot of players out there". A definite message there. The Celtics have until August 1st to make a decision on Abdel Nader's status with the team. Should the team waive him, Bird would be a possibility to take that full-time slot. But as Danny suggests, they have the mid-level exception to play with, and they seem to be doing a lot of evaluation of seasoned players from Europe (per BostonGlobe's Gary Washburn):
The Celtics are also still considering their free agent options. There are several players still on the market and the club has its $5.3 million mid-level exception to offer and there remains a need for bench scoring. So the retooling of the Celtics’ roster could take several more weeks and while the returns of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward will highlight the much-anticipated training camp, there could be some additional fresh faces.
And never forget the well-earned Trader Danny moniker. It won't happen this summer, but Ainge will not take his eyes off Anthony Davis until his stay in Pelican-Land is set in stone. Kawhi Leonard's situation is still in Limbo, but Danny will not send either Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown to San Antonio. Danny has learned patience, but he is generally a summer-trader and he still gets itchy to improve the team in any possible manner.