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Red's Army

Your Morning Dump… Where getting big free agents won’t be easy

John - Red's Army (@RedsArmy_John) July 13, 2012 Free Agency, The Morning Dump 18 Comments

Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.

What we don’t know yet is how those free agent contracts are structured and how much actual room they will have to finish the roster renovation. The Celtics have to stay under the luxury tax — $70.3 million – to take advantage of more accommodating trade rules in a potential sign-and-trade and then they must stay under the apron — $74.3 million – to complete the roster renovation.

It’s entirely possible that they won’t have enough room left below the apron to use the bi-annual exception — a two-year deal starting at $1.9 million. The bi-annual is a useful bargaining chip for late in the free agent game when veterans are looking for a new home and that tends to be the last demographic to sign deals.

As for a sign-and-trade, team sources indicated this week that the pursuit may take a little while to reach a conclusion. Keep an eye on Houston, last home of Courtney Lee, who is working on a half-dozen other scenarios including what could be a complicated run at Dwight Howard. Then there’s Phoenix, who is waiting on whether the Hornets will match their offer sheet for Eric Gordon. With Lee and O.J. Mayo clearly the best of a dwindling lot, one of those two teams will have money to spend on a guard.

WEEI:  What we learned at Summer League

I get asked more questions about Courtney Lee and OJ Mayo than anything else right now.  But getting them won’t be easy.  Why?

The main reason?  Competition

There are still teams out there that have money to spend… and the free agents we’re talking about right now are planning a career.  OJ Mayo and Courtney Lee?  They’re both young and looking for a BIG payday.  So ask yourself this:   if you’re in your mid-20’s and think you’re good enough to get a HUGE contract…..

…. Do you want to go to a good team where you’re coming off the bench, which would inherently cut your numbers down due to diminished playing time?

…. or do you want to go to a bad team like Phoenix, start, and pump up your numbers for a couple of years and then, while you’re still young, become a more desirable free agent?

I love the Celtics, but business-wise, the Celtics are not in a great position to attract these young free agents even in sign-and-trades.  And I know you guys are going to throw “don’t they want to win a ring?” argument at me.  Yes, they do.  But they want to make millions and millions and millions of dollars more than that.  I know we all want rings and banners and bragging rights… but that’s because we’re not players.  We all go do the same jobs and live the same lives with or without championships.  These guys, though, are looking at making $4 million versus maybe making $6 or $7 million.  Right now, the money is more important.  The championship chasing can happen later in their careers.

Sorry to be blunt about it.. but the money really IS more important.  These guys are making a lot, but their careers are over in their mid 30’s and not everyone can go work at TNT or ESPN.  They’ve got 50 years of life ahead of them with no real jobs…. so they’ve got to make this money last.  I’m not going to tell Courtney Lee, who has made just about $6 million to date, not do what he has to do to make a few million more dollars down the road.

Think about that $6 million for a second.  A bunch of it has been taxed and a bunch of it has been spent.  How much of that do you think he’s got left?  And we want him to pass up on more money so he can maybe get a title here in Boston?

It doesn’t work that way.  Not for him.  It does for guys like Ray Allen, who can pass up millions out of spite and chase a ring.  He’s made almost $200 million.

So the competition for these guys, maybe more than anything else, will make the pursuit of them damn near impossible. The one thing the Celtics might have working in their favor is their ability to stay under the luxury tax, which allows them to take back 150% plus $100,000 of the salaries they send out.

It’s possible, if Houston is looking to clear cap space, that the non-guaranteed contracts of E’Twaun Moore and Sean Williams ($1.6 million) and then some filler (JaJuan Johnson?  Sign-and-trade with Keyon Dooling?) to get the salaries up  to almost $3 million could mean a nearly $4.5 million contract for Lee.  Houston would need a guard (Dooling, Moore) or they could chop more cap space off (Moore, Williams) in their pursuit of Dwight Howard.  Throw in the high 2nd round pick the C’s got from OKC (it’s actually Charlotte’s pick) as sweetener and you MIGHT have a deal.

But that’s about where the possibilities end.  The Celtics aren’t trading Avery Bradley.  And the Celtics can’t trade Brandon Bass, Jeff Green, Jason Terry or Kevin Garnett (all their newly signed players) for at least 5-6 months.

So the Celtics are limited by what they can offer, who they can offer, and what everyone else can offer.  It’s still possible one of these young guards (most likely Lee) will find his way here… but it’s very unlikely.

The rest of the links:

CSNNE: Stiemsma must wait to learn fate  |  ESPN Boston:  C’s want aggressive Joseph  |  Herald:  Doc Rivers won’t respnd to Ray Allen complaints  |  Kris Joseph models game after Paul Pierce 

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  • ItCelticFan

    you certainly have a valuable point. the problem is once again the same as last year: do we have enough size? instead of thinking about o.j. mayo or courtney lee shouldn’t be looking for a big man, if there’s any left?
    will KG, fab melo, bass and sullinger be enough? I don’t think so.

    • Eric

      Totally agree. We need size, maybe hope moore can come on strong whilst bradley is gone, but once he comes back, we have decent depth at the guard positions… Maybe even throw in a contract for dooling (simply because his contract doesn’t matter).
      But look at our bigs… Who’s our starting centre? Fab melo? Kg can start, but i much rather him be a 4 and have stints at the 5. And bass off the bench would be huge. So someone like anthony randolph would be perfect, just to solidify our big spots (which were criticized all offseason, yet still haven’t been fixed. Our wings are better for sure, but beyond that, it’s pretty much same old boston which lacks depth)…

      • play

        Size in the NBA these days is overrated and outdated. This was proven by the finals this year and a lot of the teams that dominated. Of course you always need it, but you don’t really need it in abundance anymore, not like you need athletes who can run the floor and play good defense. Just my opinion. I think Ainge is trying to find athletes that can do this rather than trying to find three 7 footers that can rebound and block shots. If you can find a great center, of course it gives you an advantage, but how many of those guys are there even out there?

  • Hudson

    Is Fisher available?

  • Brian

    Well said

  • RedsLoveChild

    .–Boston would have money to spend if they were not pissing away $40M on Jeff Green!

    –Players such as Courtney Lee or OJ Mayo will not be “delivering” championships to whatever team they sign with.

    –Dwight Howard will be a Laker {not a Rocket}. LA always gets it`s {big} man…Wilt, Kareem, Shaq, soon Dwight!

    • kricky

      That Green deal isn’t hurting the cap budget that much this year because we are using the bird rights. But it will become a burden in years to come when it goes directly against the cap.

  • Double P

    You’re completely accurate about money being the determining factor but I think the example is flawed.. if you take a short term contract w a team like celtics or lakers and you play well, the exposure you get and reputation around the league is raised much higher than it would on phoenix. So you have the chance to increase your earning potential playing well for the celtics

    • http://redsarmy.com John

      Sorry, I think bigger statistics mean more in the long run when negotiating a big future contract.

      If Lee, for example, comes to Boston, comes off the bench, and contributes 10 points, 2 assists and 3 rebounds to a champion, he’ll be thought of very well in the short term. Averaging double digits off the bench on the Celtics would be great.

      If Lee goes to, say Phoenix, and averages 16 points, 4 assists and 5 rebounds as a starter… he’d be increasing his production and, in a couple of years, worth more.

      the opposing GM just wants to know that you can produce and help his team… they really don’t care much that you chose to go to a good team. I mean… that’s nice and all.. and it looks good, but it’s not as important as the production

      • sev

        yea except most NBA players can score points on bad teams, especially if they’re getting those min because the team lacks depth. By performing well on a championship caliber team, you are demonstrating that you can get your buckets within the system, as opposed to someone that just chucks it up all night like many players on the wizards for example. Also, on a team like the celtics, if you are playing well and contributing, other GMs will look at you as someone that can play defense as well, as we all know that’s what you need to crack Rivers rotation. Good teams also have depth, therefore if you’re putting up numbers on one of the better teams in the league, it means that you have out performed the other players on your team. Lastly, to a lesser extent, when you’re a top team you often get the opponents best shot, which means some of these guys are performing under a playoff like atmosphere. I get what you’re are saying, especially if the guy has a track record on other teams and has established a reputation, but putting up 10 points on the celtics is better IMO than 14 on a bad team. Now if you said 10 points compared to 22 points, GMs would have to weigh all those factors and make a move.

  • Andrew

    I agree that Jeff Green has not done enough to merit the 4 year 36 mil contract. Even though it is slightly less, i think if it were 4 year 32 mil i would think of it a lot differently. Green backs up Pierce and Kg and Bass. Is there any other team out there willing to pay Green close to what the Celtics offered?? I don’t think so. I would be happier on a one year 9 mil contract to make him show he can be successful

    • sev

      I don’t disagree at all, but at least Green has some major upside(potentially), so I would give him that contract over Perkins, who obviously got the same amount, which is prob why there are rumors the Thunder will amnesty him. Green has not earned that contract, just like many NBA players, but I’ve had high hopes for him even when the trade went down(although I wasn’t sure wether it was good for the team or not). Green has played a lot of PF and yet he could guard many 2’s in this league, as his athletic ability and coordination are ridiculous. In the right system, he will get confidence from Doc and the vets to be aggressive, and once he feels comfortable, I expect big things from him. Boarder line all star type play….maybe not this year, but next. I know it was just pick up games, but check out clips from youtube of when he was balling during the lockout….dude can sky and throw it down with ease, on top of being able to run like a gazelle(him and Rondo 1-2). Bring back Wilcox on the vet min if possible and that would be a steal if he could stay healthy. If we can’t get Lee, signing pietrus(hopefully he can find his offense, but his long arms and D were great) and Wilcox would fill out the bench nice. Doubt we could get Steamer and I bet Doc is debating wether to give that Bi-an to Greg or Wilcox assuming nothing happens with sign and trades. Mayo is DEF not happening.

      • sev

        *Meant to say Danny is debating, but I’m sure they discuss and usually agree before signing anybody. Don’t forget Green was big east player of the year and had some HUGE games in the Big East and NCAA tournament, so we know he can rise to the occasion. I think the main thing that Danny understands, is that Green came into a situation where he was playing with 3 HOFs and Rondo, so he wasn’t comfortable. The same goes for the Thunder with Westbrook and Durant(although he averaged like 15). He is now playing for a very unselfish team who personality wise he is very comfortable with. He knows what this team expects him to be, and he will be reminded daily that he’s the man and we(his teammates) need him to be aggressive. That’s kind of what happened with Bradley as soon as he found out that the WHOLE team was feeding off of his D. As some people may have read, sitting out for the season could be a blessing in disguise as he won’t want to waste anymore time not showing off his skills and being the player HE knows he can be. Sorry for the long posts, but if healthy, Green is going to produce BIG THINGS.

  • chris

    I’d rather hold on. I’d love to have Mayo but it won’t happen. Lee isn’t substantial enough an upgrade over Pietrus. Sign Pietrus and a big (such as – and hopefully – Randolph) for a year each. Basically, have the foresight to sign a big now so come March we’re not calling Ryan Hollins again.

    • Uh huh

      Lee IS that big of an upgrade of Pietrus when u consider age, injury history, and the fact pietrus would have to be our starting 2 without Bradley early on even tho he’s ideally a 3. I want em both but if it’s one or the other, it’s clearly Courtney lee.

      • Uh huh

        And which Randolph are you talking about? If its Zach, u gotta put down the pipe. If its not, I can’t think of another one that’s any good…

      • Uh huh

        Can’t talk about getting younger and keep signing 30 yr olds

  • kricky

    Good points. I’d be surprised if we could get Lee. I think we’d be lucky to sign Wilcox with that money at this point.