Pondering Celtics’ options with midlevel exception

Forsberg: Laying Out the Celtics Free Agent Options With MLE originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Celtics, looking to dive into luxurious tax waters for the 2022-23 season, have only the $6.4 million taxpayer exemption available to sign free agents for more than minimum salary.

That’s still a decent chunk of change, but not enough to attract the best talent available, especially since other teams have cap space and/or the $10.3 million non-taxpayer mid-level to share the same top-heavy talent pool to dangle.

The Celtics’ best way to add batting talent this offseason will almost certainly be to capitalize on an exemption from traded players, specifically the $17.1 million generated by Evan Fournier TPE last summer. Boston can split that number to pursue talent or splurge in one spot to bolster the bench. The Celtics need to use this Fournier TPE before July 18, and having given up four second-round picks to create it (as an offshoot of the Gordon Hayward TPE), there should be some motivation not to let it evaporate .

Forsberg: Seven Celtics thoughts as focus shifts to the offseason

There is a bit more flexibility with the midlevel exception. A year ago, the Celtics were patient, and when the market for free-agent point guard Dennis Schroder dried up, they pounced. Things didn’t quite go to plan with that relationship, but Boston maximized its money and then raked it in midseason.

There’s a chance the Celtics won’t even take advantage of the middle class of taxpayers this summer. It could be a valuable asset during the season, especially when there’s a little more to spend in the buyout market, when the team can gauge exactly what it takes to emerge as a surefire title contender again.

Also, remember: Boston is already committed to a large chunk of change before it even occupies much of its bench. When the Celtics use Fournier TPE in whole or in part, the roster becomes very expensive very quickly. Perhaps some of that will be mitigated if the Celtics move away from Daniel Theis and sign a lower-cost third-string center further down.

What is feasible if Boston uses the MLE? Well it’s difficult. And it might come down to what players are willing to put up with a small discount to chase a title.

Other teams may offer more money and a bigger role. Boston needs to identify players who know the team’s starting fives are already set and understand the limited time the team can offer.

Too rich for their blood?

Before we get to the players Boston can actually land, let’s put a few options that feel unlikely:

Bruce Brown, Brooklyn Nets: It’s fun to dream of bringing home the versatile Bostonian who tested the free hand last season and settled for Brooklyn’s $4.7 million qualifying offer. Brown’s price should rise quite a bit this year – maybe even past the larger mid-range.

Nic Batum, Los Angeles Clippers: The Hornets paid $27.1 million to get rid of Batum, and all he’s done since is shot 40 percent over the bow and emerged as the kind of versatile veteran forward that championship teams covet. He’ll turn down his low-money ($3.3 million) player option with the Clippers, and Steve Ballmer will almost certainly write him an even bigger check to bring him back immediately.

Isaiah Hartenstein, Los Angeles Clippers: Hartenstein, a young big who thrived with the Clippers last season, can either re-sign with LA for the same non-taxpayer money Boston can offer, or find a richer deal from a team that will spend more can.

One thing that could work in Boston’s favor is that if the Clippers use any part of their MLE to sign John Wall, it could open a window for Celtics to step in (while Luke Kennard becomes a possible TPE target if Clippers try to cut spending). .

Otto Porter Jr., Golden State Warriors: After rekindling his career and winning a title at Golden State, it seems Porter Jr. should be motivated to maximize his potential payday, especially given his injury history. Maybe taxpayer junior high is enough to get a foot in that door, but two-way wings always seem to find rich paydays.

Kyle Anderson, Memphis Grizzlies: Anderson is a dream for the Boston bench (well, maybe if he could shoot the three a little bit better — and faster), but he’ll likely find a much bigger payday (unless Ime Udoka can convince the former Spur to do so). to take a big pay cut).

Could you help Boston’s bank?

These players don’t necessarily jump off the side, but they can help a competitor. How much? Well, that’s why they’re available for the smaller intermediate level (or maybe even just part of it):

Delon Wright, Atlanta Hawks: This 30-year-old combo guard checks a number of Boston’s crates while being a tall, defensive-minded guard. His assist-to-usage rate has long topped combo guards, but his defense and rebound numbers are what jump off the page. The only downside: The Celtics might need a little more space on a bench that already has Payton Pritchard and Derrick White on it.

Gary Harris Jr, Orlando Magic: He’s an Indiana kid, so you know Brad Stevens already has a soft spot for him. Even more in Harris’ favor: He’s still a solid defender, having scored on 46 percent of his corner triangles in Orlando last season. Catch-and-shoot may be the extent of its limited offense, but the Celtics bench needs versatile defenders and any shooting they can add.

Caleb Martin, Miami Heat: If the Celtics don’t have immediate plans for their MLE money, there are worse options than floating a bid sheet on Martin’s $2.1 million qualifying offer from the Heat. Last but not least, it forces a cash-strapped competitor to use its own MLE to keep one of its fledgling development projects.

Patty Mills, Brooklyn Nets: With Kyrie Irving’s decision, Mills could be motivated to stay here and see what happens. But if he’s worried about the tragedy, or just his role with Irving and Ben Simmons (presumably) on the pitch, he could turn down a $6.2 million offer and find similar money from other competitors at taxpayer MLE.

Mills’ past relationship with Udoka could be a selling point, and Boston could benefit from a big-game-tested vet who shot 40 percent on threes and can lead a second-unit offensive.

Guerschon Yabusele, Real Madrid: He only came from the Boston books last season and he only has signed a three-year extension with Real Madrid. But you can’t convince us that Yabusele isn’t the best Al Horford succession plan after watching his progress abroad.

roll the dice

Do you want to get the best bang for your buck? You have to roll the dice.

TJ Warren, Indiana Pacers: Warren has only played four games in the last two seasons. For a goalscorer as good as before the injury, he needed a lot of shots. Still, beggars can’t be picky, and 6-foot-8-wingers, which shot up 40 percent on 3-pointers from 2018-2020, don’t grow on trees.

Joe Ingles, Portland Trailblazer: Ingles, who’s been through an ACL tear and is set to turn 35 in October, would likely be a small addition mid-stream. The question is, what will he have left and do the Celtics want to pay to find out?

LaMarcus Aldridge, Brooklyn Nets: Defensive limitations seem to rule that out, but Udoka’s history forces us to include Aldridge, who would deliver some epic midrange fights against Jaylen Brown after practice.

Getting the most out of a veteran minimum (or a little less than the taxpayer MLE)

Just because you have $6.4 million to spend doesn’t mean you have to use everything. Here’s a handful of bargain players we’d consider to fill out the list:

Tomas Satoransky, Washington Wizards: Let the rest of the league focus on its woeful numbers in New Orleans. We chose to focus on his sizzling 22-game finish with the Wizards, where the 6-foot-7-point guard posted a 33.9 assist percentage (96th percentile of all combo guards). Its size at the guard point is fascinating.

Ish Smith, Washington Wizards: Yes, we did about 1,000 words in an offseason article about Celtics offseason goals and we’ve now mentioned two guards for the Wizards whose names aren’t Bradley Beal. This particular Celtics killer is a solid ball handler who seems to score in spurts every time he sees green (but maybe only when he sees Celtics green). His assist percentage was in the 84th percentile of all point guards, according to Cleaning the Glass.

The counter-argument is that if you want an undersized point guard who is usually stable on the ball and even more offensively facing up, just play more pritchard.

Robin LopezOrlando Magic The Celtics need a big bruise to contend with the Joel Embiid guys at the post. The 7-foot Lopez can do that, giving you a steady diet of hook shots. He would be a cheaper option for a third big player if the Celtics got comfortable moving Theis eventually.

Dewayne Dedmon, Miami Heat: He’s 7 feet, rebounds and plays hard. This checks all of our boxes in the middle of the third string. Call us crazy, as Dedmon had relatively quiet playoffs against Boston, but he was a nuisance for 15 minutes in that late March game that saw Miami secure the No. 1 East.

Wesley Matthews, Milwaukee Bucks: We’re probably putting too much stock in that one game where Jayson Tatum fought Matthews in the East semifinals. But he shot 40 percent at three-pointers in the 2022 playoffs and can defend himself beyond his height. Also, it’s slim pickings on wings that suit Boston’s needs.

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