The Celtics’ stunning season has come to an end. They fell to the Warriors in Game 6 of the NBA Finals and came close to winning their 18th title in franchise history.
Boston had one of the most surprising seasons in the NBA this year, ranging from a team going 25-25 in their first 50 games to the second-best record in the East.
With new head coach Ime Udoka at the helm, the Celtics stumbled out of the gate, but when all the pieces started to click they looked like one of the most dominant teams in the league.
Behind their star tandem of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, a Marcus Smart Defensive Player of the Season, the rise of Robert Williams III and the resurgence of Al Horford, Boston possessed the league’s best defensive rating and second-best net rating.
The Celtics swept the nets in the first round of the 2022 NBA playoffs, defeating the Bucks in a grueling seven-game streak in the East Semis and repeating that with another Game 7 win over the Heat in the Conference Finals to earn their first NBA to advance to finals in over a decade.
Boston took a 2-1 lead over the Warriors in the finals but couldn’t end the streak. Golden State has won its last three games and defeated the Celtics in six.
However, Boston is going nowhere. With their core group under contract until 2024-25, the Celtics shouldn’t be as busy with the off-season as other teams, but there are still a few things to work out.
(All salary figures are from Spotrac)
Celtic’s upcoming free agents
The Celtics don’t have any major free agents this offseason. Tatum, Brown, Smart and Williams are all locked up, and Horford, Grant Williams and Derrick White are still under contract.
|Unrestricted Free Agents||Restricted Free Agents||player option||team option|
|Luke Kornet||Brodrik Thomas||none||Sam Hauser|
|Matt Ryan||John Morgan|
Future Celtics salaries, roster
As noted above, the Celtics have their core squad through at least 2024-25 as Tatum, Brown, Smart and Williams all signed contract extensions in previous off-seasons.
However, Boston needs to discuss the possibility of new deals with Grant Williams and Horford.
|Jayson Tatum||$30.4 million||$32.6 million||$34.9 million||$37.1 million (PO)|
|Jaylen Brown||$27.2 million||$29.1 million||UFA|
|Al Horford||$26.5 million (NG)||UFA|
|Markus Smart||$17.2 million||$18.6 million||$20.0 million||$21.3 million|
|Derrick White||$16.9 million||$18.1 million||$19.3 million||UFA|
|Robert Williams III||$10.7 million||11.6 million||12.4 million||$13.3 million|
|Daniel Theis||$8.7 million||$9.1 million||$9.5 million (TO)|
|Grant Williams||$4.3 million||RFA|
|Aaron Nesmith||$3.8 million||$5.6 million||RFA|
|Payton Pritchard||$2.2 million||$4.0 million||RFA|
|John Morgan||$1.8 million (TO)||RFA|
|Sam Hauser||$1.6 million (TO)||RFA|
TO = team option
NG = Not guaranteed
RFA = Limited freedom of choice
Ufa = Unrestricted freedom of choice
Celtics 2022 NBA draft picks
The Celtics have no first-round pick in the 2022 NBA draft.
At the close of trading, the Celtics traded Josh Richardson and their 2022 first-round pick to the Spurs in exchange for White.
Boston, however, owns its pick for the second round. The Celtics pick with the 23rd pick in the second round (No. 53 overall).
A burning question
What will the contract negotiations with Al Horford and Grant Williams look like?
The Celtics’ front office has completed its most important duties, having already received commitments from Brown and Tatum.
Before the start of the 2019 season, Brown signed a four-year, $119 million contract extension to stay with the Celtics through the 2023-24 season. Ahead of the 2020 season, Tatum signed a five-year contract extension worth up to $195 million that will keep him in Boston through the 2024-25 season.
Prior to last season, Boston ensured that its two most influential defensive players were suspended. Smart agreed to a four-year, $77.1 million contract that will keep him with the Celtics through the 2025-26 season. Rising center Robert Williams III also signed a pre-season extension, inking a four-year, $54 million deal that will keep him on the same timeline as Smart.
Next, Boston needs to figure out what to do with Horford and Grant Williams this offseason.
Horford has one year left on his contract with the 76ers, which he signed in 2019. His $26.5 million salary isn’t guaranteed for the 2022-23 season, but after a stellar postseason, don’t be surprised if the Celtics present the veteran with strong offerings.
As for Williams, the 2019 first-round pick is eligible for his rookie contract extension this offseason. Williams had the most impressive year of his career and went on to become one of the NBA’s best 3-and-D players. He knocked down 41.1 percent of his 3-pointers while taking on the toughest defensive duties, including Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
It’s unclear how much money Williams will command, but he’s playing his part in Boston. It’s not far-fetched to think he’d take a slight discount to stay with the Celtics. He also has the option to wait and see in 2023 and test the limited free agency.
With their cornerstones under contract, the Celtics only have to worry about retaining two key elements of their rotation.