Forsberg: What else is on the Celtics offseason to-do list? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The Boston Celtics completed most of their summer work on Friday, agreeing to a trade with the Indiana Pacers to sign Malcolm Brogdon and signing free-agent forward Danilo Gallinari.
Boston then settled with bench passers Sam Hauser and Luke Kornet. The Celtics have 12 players under contract and are in deep luxury tax with at least two more spots to be filled (and two two-way contracts to be finalized).
So what can we expect for the rest of the summer?
TPE or not TPE, that is (not really) a question
After a full year of speculation about what the Celtics might do with the exception of $17.1 million in player trades generated in Evan Fournier’s sign-and-trade, there’s a very real chance they’ll end up on the July 18 could evaporate uselessly.
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That would be a bad thing if Boston hadn’t spent on winning Brogdon and adding $67.6 million in salary over the next three seasons. The Celtics have now committed nearly $170 million in contracts for these 12 players (with a contract value of 2022-23):
- Jayson Tatum – $30.4 million
- Jaylen Brown – $28.7 million
- Al Horford – $26.5 million
- Malcolm Brogdon – $22.6 million
- Marcus Smart – $17.2 million
- Derrick White – $16.4 million
- Robert Williams – $10.7 million
- Danilo Gallinari – $6.5 million
- Grant Williams – $4.3 million
- Payton Pritchard – $2.1 million
- Lukas Kornet – $2.1 million
- Sam Hauser – $1.9 million
The Celtics can remain relatively opportunistic with the TPE. If there is a low-cost player worth adding, the team can strike via trade. But at $20 million over the tax limit and with no painless means of losing pay on the 2022-2023 journey, the Celtics could be at their spending limit. Boston is expected to have nearly $225 million in total exposure when it forecasts its tax bill, as tax rates rise the further it gets into tax waters.
That said, it’s hard to imagine the Celtics taking on another $8 million player through the TPE, for example, as it would take their total spend to about $260 million. The Celtics essentially pay at least $3.75 million for every $1 million spent for every $20 million over tax spent.
Now Boston has paid four second-round picks to keep a big TPE alive through its Gordon Hayward and Fournier incarnations. Still, it’s a sunk price and it gave the Celtics an alternative way to add high-level talent if the Brogdon deal had never materialized. The cost of acquiring Brogdon was so low that Boston can bear the loss of the TPE if there is no way to kick it further down the road.
The Celtics could use the TPE to find a defensively-focused wing or third center to fill out the roster, but only if those players were worthy of investing a draft asset and represent something above what comes with one minimum contract is achievable in the free agent market.
Who gets the final roster spots?
Given tax concerns, the Celtics should be motivated to give one of their last roster spots to a player with zero years of league service. Maybe that’ll bring Juhann Begarin to the US (Yam Madar would work too, but feels like there’s too much point guard depth to waste years of service). Alternatively, the Celtics could sign JD Davison for the 2022 second round, who could otherwise make a two-way deal or consider a stash abroad.
If Boston is yearning to add another veteran, it should be a defensive wing that can fill a few minutes when Brown and Tatum are on the bench, or a heavy bruise that can take some of the wear and tear off Horford and Williams III ( the Celts have previously been linked to Thomas Bryant).
Those who are added must understand that there won’t be many minutes available outside of the top 10 and will have to settle for bite-sized chunks of playing time.
Perhaps deciding which rookie to bring into the new season will come into focus when the Summer Celts head to Vegas.
If Begarin is still raw, it might be best to stow it away. If an inexperienced player shows promise and can benefit from being on the team during the season, the Celtics might treat one of the last open roster spots like a souped-up version of a two-way deal, much like they did in promotion, according to Hauser all the in-season maneuvers of the past season.
The Grant Williams expansion
Williams became a key part of Boston’s rotation last season, embracing his 3-and-D role and thriving in his corner office. The recency bias will make a disappointing finale the standout memory, but Williams has been fantastic at chasing Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo in the early rounds of the postseason.
So, can the player and the team agree on a number to give him financial security going forward?
The market was relatively cool for 3-and-D and power forwards last summer. PJ Tucker — a popular Williams comparison due to his undersized height — was paid $11 million a season, but age and experience play important roles in his deal. Kyle Anderson came just south of full midfield at around $9 million a season when he signed with Minnesota.
The Celtics could offer Williams something in the $9 million to $11 million range to get the ball rolling. Maybe they’re going up that number a bit, but we can’t see them overspending because of all the salary being invested in the future (though Horford’s money coming off the books will help luxury tax concerns). If Williams is part of the Horford succession plan, the team may be more willing to pay to incarcerate him early.
The Jaylen Brown expansion
We’ll get to that later, but the bottom line is that Brown is eligible for an extension and the Celtics will want to make him that offer to let him know how much they value him. But they shouldn’t be offended if he wants to wait to maximize the money later.
Complete Ime Udoka’s coaching staff
With the departure of Will Hardy and some assistant/support staff likely to follow him to Utah, Udoka will have some positions on his staff to fill or shuffle.
If Joe Mazzulla is back after being in the Utah head coaching mix this summer, it seems likely he’s landed an off-bench role.
Choose the goal of the training camp
Hey Brad and Ime, it’s time to get back on the road training. Enter this reservation for the Rodgers Recreation Center on the Salve Regina campus.
At the start of another potential nine-month odyssey, let the boys out of the Auerbach Center for a few days and let them bond on the Cliff Walk. It’s a long season and there will be LOTS of time to hang out in Brighton.