UPDATE: I'm a complete moron. Here's the deal: There are these things called cap holds… which essentially tie up cap space until you re-sign whomever you may be re-signing with bird rights. So the Celtics, no matter how much we like to slice and dice this… are over the cap. It's my own fault for falling into the trap of trying to figure out cap space. Simply put: Unless the Celtics flat out renounce the rights to almost everyone, they're going to be over the cap.
So disregard everything in this post. I'll leave it up so smarter people can make fun of me. The lesson here is simple: If you don't know what the hell you're talking about… don't talk about it. I'll leave the cap shit to someone else from now on.
So… Rasheed Wallace is going to quit. Assuming that he flat-out retires and the C's don't pull some kind of trade with his impending cap space… here's one scenario for the C's:
Somehow, some way, the Celtics will make it so Sheed's money is off the books this coming season. We're all getting caught up on whether it needs to be a buyout or if the money just leaves the ledger… but that doesn't matter. The Celtics will make sure it happens.
Removing Sheed's $6.3 million from the books puts the C's right around $57 million. The league recently projected the salary cap to be $56.1 million… so the C's would be slightly over. That would mean the C's have Paul Pierce, KG, Perk, Rajon, and Big Baby under contract. You also have to add Avery Bradley, who will make a little under $1.2 million. So let's just use $58 million as a round number.
Hold that thought.
Paul Pierce's contract includes a PLAYER OPTION for this year. This is a big difference from what other guys are doing when they opt-out (an early termination option, or ETO). An opt-out means you are leaving your contract. In that case, you're a free agent, off the books, you're just like any other free agent that will count fully against the cap.
Paul Pierce can decline his option and still be extended, giving the Celtics full Bird rights to exceed the cap if they need to. But if he had 2 years left and he exercised an ETO, he'd be like any other free agent.
So… let's play a salary cap game.
The mid-level exception is in the high $5 million range. If the C's stay over the cap, they get that money that they can offer to free agents. They gave it all to Sheed this past season, but teams can split it up.
Let's say the Celtics can negotiate a deal with Pierce where he declines the $21 million option. If his starting salary this year was $12 million rather than $21 million… they could do a 3 year deal where his salaries are $12 mil, $13.26 mil and then $14.6 mil (because the maximum raise is 10.5%). Just think of it as 3 years, $40 million because that's what it works out to be.
If Pierce made $12 million this year, the C's payroll would be $47 million, rather than $58 million… giving them $9 million to play with rather than the almost $6 million in MLE.
You got that? I hope so… because I'm still not 100% sure I've got his right. But after reading through the particulars, this is my best interpretation of how this whole thing can go down.
So to summarize: The Celtics will find a way to get Sheed's money to go away for the 2010-11 season. IF they can negotiate a 3-year, $40 million deal with Pierce where he declines this year's option, the net effect will be the Celtics having $9 million to play with rather than $6 million. After that, they're still stuck with offering minimum wage contracts and Bird-rights to fill out their roster… but they were there anyway.
That's my best shot. If anyone knows better, please let me know in the comments.