Boston Celtics 2022 Offseason Primer

The Boston Celtics’ 2021-22 season has been a wild ride. From wondering if the Celtics would even make it to the play-in tournament in late 2021 to reaching Game 6 of the 2022 NBA Finals, it’s been quite a journey.

Now it’s time to turn the page to the 2022-23 season. That starts with the 2022 off-season.

This guide is not intended to answer every question you may have about what the Celtics could do. It’s more about preparing you for what the Celtics are working with and what they can reasonably do this summer.

With all that covered, let’s dive in!

The players

Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

Guaranteed Contracts

· Jaylen Brown – $28.7 million

· Aaron Nesmith – $3.8 million

· Payton Pritchard – $2.2 million

· Marcus Smart – $17.2 million

· Jayson Tatum – $30.4 million

· Daniel Theis – $8.7 million

· Derrick White – $16.9 million

· Grant Williams – $4.3 million

· Robert Williams – $10.9 million

Partial and non-guaranteed contracts

· Malik Fitts – $1.8 million – not guaranteed

· Sam Hauser – $1.6 million – $300,000 guaranteed (if team option is exercised)

· Al Horford – $26.5 million – $19.5 million guaranteed

Juwan Morgan – $1.8 million – not guaranteed (if team option is exercised)

· Nik Stauskas – $2.2 million – not guaranteed

dead money

Demetrius Jackson – $92,857

Potential Free Agents

· Sam Hauser – restricted, non-bird rights (when team option is declined)

· Luke Kornet – full non-bird rights

· Juwan Morgan – restricted rights without bird (when team option is rejected)

· Matt Ryan – Restricted – Two-way, non-bird rights

· Brodric Thomas – Restricted – Two-way, non-bird rights

summary

Boston already has nine roster spots that players with guaranteed contracts have spoken for. We could also add Al Horford and Sam Hauser to this list. Horford is going nowhere and his deal will likely be guaranteed before the season. Hauser has shown enough that it’s worth staying with him for another year and trying to develop further. In that sense, he’s something of a pseudo draft pick.

This leaves four open roster slots on the standard 15-man roster. Some memories:

· Teams can promote 15 players on standard contracts in the regular season

· Teams can take two players with them in two-way deals during the regular season

· Teams can promote up to 20 players (standard and two-way contracts) during the off-season

There’s a good chance at least some from the group of Malik Fitts, Luke Kornet, Juwan Morgan, Matt Ryan, Nik Stauskas and Brodric Thomas will be back next season. They can all compete for bench spots at training camp. It’s also possible that Ryan will return to Boston/Maine with another two-way contract. Only Stauskas has a guarantee date worth monitoring (July 15) to see if he will return to camp or not.

As it stands, with Horford and Hauser, Boston has a salary of $151.3 million for 11 players. That’s just about $2 million above the projected luxury tax line of $149 million for the 2022-23 season. Boston is also above the tax apron (where a team hits a hard cap) of $155.7 million when you factor in list completion and incentives.

The tools

Boston Celtics introduce Ime Udoka press conference

Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

The 2022 NBA draft Choose

· #53 overall

Due to the Derrick White trade, Boston does not have a first-round pick in the 2022 NBA draft.

Exceptions when signing

· Mid-Level Taxpayer Exception – $6,392,000

The Celtics have the taxpayer MLE because they are above the luxury apron. Even if they should dip briefly under the apron, they can’t use the full Non-Taxpayer MLE anyway, as that would severely limit the team. The Celtics also can’t take advantage of the two-year exemption ($4,050,000) because they are above or near the tax apron/hard cap.

Reminders of how teams get cut hard on the apron:

Using a portion of the non-taxpayer MLE that is greater than the taxpayer MLE to sign one or more players

· Use of the semi-annual exception

· Winning a player via sign-and-trade

Traded Player Exceptions

· Evan Fournier – $17.1 million – expires July 18

· Juancho Hernangomez – $6.9 million – expires Jan. 19

· Dennis Schroder – $5.9 million – expires February 10

· Bol Bol – $2.2 million – expires on February 10th

· PJ Dozier – $1.9 million – expires February 10

· Bruno Fernando – $1.8 million – expires February 10

· Enes Freedom – $1.7 million – expires February 10th

· Tristan Thompson – $1.4 million – expires July 7th

Reminders on how TPEs work:

· Can be used to purchase one or more players via trade or via a waiver. Cannot be used to sign a player or players.

· TPEs cannot be aggregated (combined) with an exiting player’s salary or another TPE to yield more salary

· A player’s salary acquired through a TPE must fit within the TPE plus applicable salary-related trading rules

· TPEs expire after the close of business on the specified date and their expiration date cannot be extended

Tradable Players

The Celtics do not have players with trading restrictions. All currently committed players can be traded at any time.

For partially/non-guaranteed players, they only count towards the guaranteed amount of their forthcoming salary in a trade. For example: Al Horford would expect $19.5 million in outgoing pay on a deal, as opposed to the full $26.5 million. On the buy side, Horford would be looking at a salary of $26.5 million.

Teams can, and often do, increase the guaranteed amount for a player to include them in a trade where there is a need to adjust salary.

Tradable Design Rights

Juhan Begarin

Yammadar

Boston holds the draft rights for Juhann Begarin (2021 NBA Draft) and Yam Madar (2020 NBA Draft). Both have continued to play overseas since being called up.

summary

Normally being restricted to only taxpayer MLEs, TPEs and regular trades to acquire talents would be a concern. Luckily, Boston has a relatively full roster. They can reasonably expect their top 9-10 players to return from a season ago.

With the majority of the NBA above the salary cap this summer and roughly half the league dancing around the luxury tax and hard cap, the taxpayer MLE should have more spending power than usual.

As a finished title contender, Boston is an attractive destination for veterans looking for both a finals run opportunity and a potential rotation spot.

The use of the larger TPEs is more a question of how deep the Celtics’ ownership is willing to delve into the luxury tax than anything else. Adding a player via the MLE and via a TPE making $7 million to $17 million would push Boston into uncharted territory in terms of its potential luxury tax bill.

NBA Finals 2022 - Boston Celtics vs. Golden State Warriors

Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Needs

· Proven chord – ideally this would be a 3&D player who could spot Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum the rest of them sorely lacking during the playoffs. But the Celtics have had to settle for a “3” or “D” due to a lack of players in the market who can fill both needs.

· Another big one – The quartet of Rob Williams, Al Horford, Grant Williams and Daniel Theis is pretty solid. But another big one, ideally a 4/5 option would be great. This is especially true given the health concerns surrounding Rob Williams.

· Another playmaker – Is that the mythical “pure point guard” or “ground general”? Maybe. But that’s hard to fill. Instead, it’s about adding depth to a position where Marcus Smart regularly misses time and where Boston fell a bit short in the postseason. This ranges from a large need to a smaller need depending on who you are speaking to.

The questions

· Will Celtics ownership be given out? – This is a valid question given that Boston has taken salary cuts in recent years to avoid the tax in recent years. Boston narrowly dodged the tax in 2022, giving Celtics owners a nice bonus check from tax-paying teams. Will they now reverse and reinvest that into the team using MLE and TPEs?

· How much depth is needed? – Boston could use what we outlined above, but the team will bring back all of their rotation players. And that’s a rotation mostly filled with younger players who just made it to the NBA Finals. How much do you upset that balance by adding more players who need minutes, touches and shots?

· Is it time to make an all-in move? – Should the Celtics pay attention to how close they were to Banner 18 and make the big deal to try and get closer? What would that trade even look like? Who would it be for? Who would be sent?

summary

In the next week or so we will have a few articles here on CelticsBlog setting out some goals for each of the needs listed above. This includes players that can be acquired through the MLE, a TPE, or through a standard trade.

We will also have some articles trying to answer the three questions posed above. Maybe something will happen to answer these questions before the article is published. At this point we will turn to the analysis of what happened.

It’s time for the off-season and for the first time in a while the Boston Celtics are not going on a reset. They don’t rebuild either. Instead, they’re hopefully reinforcing a team that’s ready to take the next step toward Banner 18.

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