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.
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: