The 2021 off-season was one of the changes for the Celtswho saw Danny Aige step down from his longtime role as president of the basketball operations team and Brad Stevens move from the sidelines to the front office to replace Ainge in this role. First-time head coach I am Udoka was hired as Stevens’ replacement, and Stevens’ first major roster change was the end of the Kemba Walker era in Boston and sent him to Oklahoma City with a first-round pick Al Horford.
If you’ve watched the Celtics in the first half of the season, you might question the wisdom of those offseason maneuvers. Boston was still under .500 halfway through the regular season when observers questioned Udoka’s hiring and speculated on the possibility of disbanding Star Wings Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
However, just after halfway through the season, everything started to fall into place. As of January 22, the Celtics had the best record (28-7), best offensive rating (120.2), and highest defensive score (104.8) in the NBA and rocketed up the Eastern Conference rankings to claim second place.
Some close-of-trade roster changes – including the essential exchange Dennis Schroeder, Josh Richardsonand Ene’s freedom With Derrick White and Daniel Theis – helped the cause, but the Celtics’ starters also made great strides throughout the year, working hard to build chemistry and find the right roles for each player afterwards Markus Smart publicly called out Tatum and Brown for their game during the first month of the season.
Impressive string wins over Brooklyn, Milwaukee and Miami earned the Celtics a berth in the NBA Finals, but after leading 2-1, the Cs ultimately fell short, falling to the Warriors in six games. While missing out on a championship was a bitter pill, the Boston season was a huge success as it stood in January.
The Celtics’ offseason plan:
Of the 15 players who ended the season on standard contracts with the Celtics, 12 are signed for 2022-23. Two – Sam Hauser and John Morgan – have team options for their deals, while only one – Luke Kornet – faces unrestricted freedom of choice. Given that these three players totaled 247 minutes for Boston last season, they’re unlikely to be among the top offseason priorities — maybe a return or two, but not for more than the veteran’s minimum .
With no key players on the road to free agency and no first-round pick, the Celtics’ list of pressing things to do in the offseason won’t be as long as it was a year ago, but the team still has some to do Make placement decisions.
First off, three of the 12 players signed for next season have unguaranteed or partially guaranteed salaries. Guaranteeing the remaining $7 million of Horford’s expiring $26.5 million deal will be an easy call, however Nick Stauskas and Malik Fittswhose minimum salary contracts are not guaranteed are not return bans.
If the Celtics let Kornet, Morgan and Hauser run free and forgo Stauskas and Fitts before their salaries are guaranteed, they would have up to five open positions in their 15-man roster and would open the door to the front office the market for veterans who want to compete for a title with minimum salary offers.
With virtually all of their playoff rotation pieces returning, Boston may not be able to offer significant roles to free agents’ goals. Still, the opportunity to join a title contender is attractive, and the team will have the mid-level taxpayer exception available when they’re willing to take advantage of it — that could make a difference for a veteran free agent who doesn’t done would have interest in a reserve price.
Exploring the trade market in search of a rotation upgrade is one avenue the Celtics could take, especially as Stevens has shown a real willingness to rotate and trade since taking the reins at the front office. Boston has made nine trades since his promotion. However, given the current group’s good performance on the track and in the postseason, Stevens will likely be more cautious about shaking things up this offseason.
Even though their roster will not change significantly for 2022-23, the Celtics need to start thinking about what the team will look like Furthermore next season. Grant Williams is qualified for a rookie scale expansion this offseason after proving he can play a key role in big games in this year’s playoffs.
Boston signed a year ago Robert Williams to a four-year, $48 million (plus incentives) extension that looked like a dice roll based on Williams’ injury history and track record at the time. If the Celtics are optimistic about Grant Williams’ development path and can sign him at a similarly team-friendly pace, it would make sense to make another early move to avoid the risk of him becoming significantly more expensive a year from now.
Brown and Horford are also eligible for an extension this offseason, but there’s likely no rush to lock up either player. Brown is two years away from being freehand, while Horford has just turned 36. Renewing a player at this age is generally an unnecessary risk as you never know when they will lose a step and see their value plummet.
Salary cap situation
Note: Our salary caps are based on the league’s latest forecast ($122M) for 2022-23.
- Jayson Tatum ($30,351,780)
- Jaylen Brown ($28,741,071)
- Al Horford ($19,500,000) — Partial Warranty. Non-guaranteed percentage shown below.
- Markus Smart ($17,207,142)
- Derrick White ($16,892,857)
- Robert Williams ($10,937,502)
- Daniel Theis ($8,694,369)
- Grant Williams ($4,306,281)
- Aaron Nesmith ($3,804,360)
- Payton Pritchard ($2,239,200)
- Demetrius Jackson ($92,857) – Waived by stretch deployment.
- Total: $142,767,419
Restricted Free Agents
Free two-way agents
- Overall pick #53 (no cap hold)
Note: These are players who are either already eligible for an overtime or will become eligible before the start of the 2022/23 season.
- Jaylen Brown (Veteran)
- Al Horford (Veteran)
- Grant Williams (beginner scale)
Unrestricted Free Agents / Other Cap Holds
Offseason Cap Outlook
After the Celtics narrowly avoided the luxury tax in 2021-22, the Celtics could theoretically try to do it again next season, but I’d be surprised if that was a big priority now that the club are reaping the financial benefits of an extended post-season run has harvested.
Once Horford’s salary is guaranteed, Boston will already hit the projected tax limit of $149 million for just 10 players. Even padding the roster with minimum salary players would put the team salary well into the tax range, so tax evasion would require at least a cost-cutting deal or two.
Cap exceptions available
- Exception mid-level taxpayers: $6,392,000 4
- Trade Exception: $17,142,857
- Trade Exception: $6,907,815
- Trade Exception: $5,890,000
- Trade Exception: $3,804,360
- Trade Exception: $2,161,152
- Trade Exception: $1,910,860
- Trade Exception: $1,782,621
- Trade Exception: $1,669,178
- Trade Exception: $1,440,549
- Trade Exception: $500,000
- Morgan’s salary remains unguaranteed even if his option is exercised.
- Hauser’s salary is partially guaranteed ($300,000) if his option is exercised.
- Stauska’s salary will be fully guaranteed after July 15.
- This is a forecast value. The Celtics could instead have access to the full mid-level exemption ($10,349,000) and semi-annual exemption ($4,050,000) if they stay under the tax skirt.
Salary and cap information from Basketball Insiders and RealGM was used in the creation of this post.