Don’t expect the Boston Celtics to do too much splurging during free agency.
With a payroll that is cutting it close to the cap, the team doesn’t have sufficient space to draw in the big names. Instead, the Celtics will most likely settle for far less expensive options to address their needs.
However, it would be foolish to mistake low cost as also meaning ineffective.
Boston is currently working with a guaranteed payroll total of $62,604,091 in a projected $58.5 million cap. Throw in the impending decision on Paul Pierce and the team is looking at an additional $5 million at the very least. That would leave the Celtics with $67.60 million on the books, just under the estimated luxury tax threshold of $71.6 million.
Since the team went over the luxury tax last season, Boston is limited to just a mini-mid-level exception (around $3.2 million) along with the veteran minimum to offer free agents.
But that shouldn’t discourage the team. There are still plenty of options the Celtics can look into.
With Avery Bradley, Jason Terry, Courtney Lee and Jordan Crawford all on the roster, Boston couldn’t possibly need another shooting guard, right?
Well, when none proved to be effective on the offensive end, it’s time for a change. In fact, only Terry surpassed double-digits in scoring (10.1 PPG) and had to rely on 43.4 percent shooting to do so.
The 26-year-old Miles can provide a solution for that.
In 65 contests for the Cleveland Cavaliers this year, Miles averaged 11.2 points and 2.7 rebounds over 21 minutes per game. He also shot 41.5 percent from the field and 38.4 percent from beyond the arc.
Those numbers only increased when Miles was thrown into the starting lineup.
In 13 starts, he averaged 15.2 points and 3.2 rebounds over 30.2 minutes per game. That includes three performances with 28 points or more.
Miles is a good outside shooter that could provide the Celtics with a great asset off the bench.
The only question is whether or not the Cavaliers will guarantee his contract for next season. Miles is set to make $2.2 million next year.
If he does become available, Miles is someone that Boston could target with the mini-MLE.
In the absence of Rajon Rondo, the team struggled mightily to find a replacement.
Bradley, Lee and Terry all auditioned for the part. However, the role of distributor fell squarely on the shoulders of the 35-year-old Pierce. One problem: The 6’7” Celtics captain plays small forward.
Maynor would be a perfect fit to step in behind Rondo.
After bouncing around the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder, the 26-year-old found a home with the Portland Trailblazers this season. He appeared in 27 contests, averaging 6.9 points and 4.1 assists over 21.2 minutes per game. He also shot 42.2 percent from the floor and 38 percent from three-point range.
Unlike any other option that Boston possesses behind Rondo on the depth chart, Maynor is a true point guard.
One of his strengths is his ability to run the pick-and-roll well. Not to mention, Maynor’s outside shooting would be a much-welcomed improvement over Rondo’s shortcomings in that area.
He only received $2.3 million in salary for the 2012-13 season. That would make Maynor a prime recipient of the mini-MLE.
The area where the Celtics need the most help is in the frontcourt. Especially with the uncertainty surrounding the future of Kevin Garnett.
Dalembert is a legitimate option.
During 47 contests for the Milwaukee Bucks, the 32-year-old was rather unimpressive. He averaged just 6.7 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks over 16.3 minutes per game—the least amount of playing time Dalembert has seen since his rookie season (2002).
However, there were still some positives to take away from this year.
Finishing at the rim proved to be a strength for Dalembert, as he converted on 65.9 percent of his looks at the basket. The 6’11” center also ranked eighth in the league with a total rebounding rate of 19.4—higher than Zach Randolph, Dwight Howard and Tim Duncan.
In the final year of his contract, Dalembert brought in $6.7 million. But following a disappointing campaign, Boston should be able to snag Dalembert for considerably less.
If it worked once, why not try it again?
It’s a mantra the Celtics could put into play by bringing back Barbosa over the summer.
In 41 contests with the team this season, the 30-year-old averaged 5.2 points, 1.4 assists and 1.1 rebounds over 12.5 minutes per game. He also shot 43 percent from the field and 38.3 percent from distance.
But Barbosa saved his best for when Rondo went down with an injury.
During eight contests in Rondo’s absence, Barbosa averaged 8.1 points, 2.9 assists and 3.1 rebounds over 20.8 minutes per game. That included a stretch of three-straight games with 12 or more points.
Unfortunately, Barbosa tore his ACL on Feb. 11 and was traded to the Washington Wizards shortly after.
Having been paid just $854,389 during the season, Barbosa makes a lot of sense for Boston to bring back on the veteran’s minimum. He would especially be a solid pickup if the team was able to dump the contracts of Terry and Lee.
Summing It All Up
No, these players might not be the most well-known or productive players in the league. But that doesn’t take away from their worth.
After all, even the biggest of skyscrapers wouldn’t stand tall without a solid foundation.
The Celtics are in a tough situation salary-cap wise as it stands. However, with plenty of roster decisions being made by the end of the month, the team might find itself with a little more money to spend.
But right now, Boston should be more focused on players who will address needs instead of those who will draw fans into seats. That’s because if the team completes the former, the latter will come without saying.
At the end of the day, winning solves everything.