Jabari Bird, 15th roster spot, luxury tax line, trades & Anthony Davis
With Abdel Nader being recently waived, the Celtics have one open roster spot. And the Celtics are roughly 2-3 million over the luxury tax threshold.
Being so close to the luxury tax line, it would seem sensible for Danny Ainge to make a move or two to dip under it, mainly to avoid the repeater tax down the road. He may choose to keep that slot open, at least for now to help avoid becoming a tax payer this season. One possibility for that slot, after serving as a 2-way player last season, Jabari Bird is currently a restricted free agent, allowing Boston to match any offer from another team.
Ownership has indicated it is willing to become a tax payer if it gives the team a solid shot at the Championship. Bird showed a lot of potential in Summer League, but it is doubtful he would be a critical factor in vying for a Title, particularly since signing him would put the Celtics deeper into luxury tax territory.
Working a trade whereby the Celtics take back less money in contracts than they send out could be an answer. The other team in such a deal can take on as much as 125% of what Boston brings back. The Celtics could make Bird part of the deal via a sign-and-trade on a standard contract, (rather than the present 2-way qualifying offer), or sign him at the right price and retain his services.
Being over the luxury tax line by such a small amount, it would seem that Ainge would at least give the matter of squeezing under it serious thought. If Danny were able to sign Jabari to a standard, minimum deal at 0.8 million, the Celtics would have to send out roughly 3 million more than they take back. For example, if Boston sends out roughly 14 million and takes back 11.2 million, that comes close to working.
There is one other scenario which comes into play. Kyrie Irving is a case of a player that entered the somewhat-new, what I call, the Malcontent Market when no longer enthralled with Cleveland, and Danny jumped at the opportunity. We also have the rampant I-want-to-play-with-Jimmy Jumper-on-the-West-Coast syndrome. Ainge will look at that too (minus the West Coast part). If a transcendent player such as Anthony Davis gets itchy at his present location, luxury taxes be damned! Ownership and Danny Ainge only seem reluctant to enter tax country unless they have a great shot at a title.
Let's face it. The NBA has become a juggling act, and it is the players, their locations (present and desired) and their salaries that are being juggled. The goals are to keep the balls in the air and not drop them. Timing is everything. Marcus Smart is back in the fold, as a long-term team member or a trade chip. Kyrie Irving and Jimmy Butler want to play together, allegedly in New York. Jabari Bird awaits offers, and Danny Ainge waits to see how the Pelicans fare prior to the trade deadline. And Boston sits a bit over the luxury tax line. Don't drop the ball, Danny.