Contract Grades: Boston Celtics
In this next installment of Contract Grades we take a look at the Boston Celtics. Still a very talented team, the Celtics are getting older and it’s clear a major restructuring of the roster will need to happen soon.
Click here to go back and check out the ground rules, and then let’s break down the Boston Celtics.
The Boston Celtics (team salary info)
Danny Ainge has been in charge of basketball operations for the Celtics since 2003, presiding over the end of the Antoine Walker/Paul Pierce years and orchestrating the building of a lottery team into a NBA champion with the trades for Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett in 2007. Along the way the Celtics have spent a lot of money to keep the team together, but now all of the starters except for point guard Rajon Rondo are 33 or older. However, Garnett and Allen’s contracts both expire in 2012 and depending on what they do with restricted free agent Jeff Green, the team could head into the 2012-13 season with only $30.6 million committed to four players.
Paul Pierce (two years, $32.1 million) – Pierce is on the books for $15.3 million in 2013-14, but that amount is only guaranteed for $4 million if he is waived by June 30, 2013. That amount increases to $5 million if he plays in over 50% of the Celtics’ games from 2010-11 through 2012-13. Pierce played in 89 of 91 games the Celtics played in 2010-11, so he’s well on the way to the extra million. Regardless, $15.3 million is a lot of money to pay a player who will be 36 when the 2013-14 starts. Is it worth it? Or would Boston be better off waiving Pierce, paying him $5 million, and perhaps re-sign him to a deal worth much less money for 2013-14 that would save them a few million in cap space? Pierce is still a productive player, but the cost is steep.
Rajon Rondo (three years, $35.8 million) – By the time 2012-13 comes Rondo will become the centerpiece of the Celtics’ roster. He has played fantastic ball running the offense and bringing the defense ever since the team turned the point guard duties over to him back in 2006-07 and has earned his extension money. And, frankly, for a starting point guard who has helped a team as much as Rondo, it’s a good deal for the team. But is Rondo a player to build around? Will he be as effective without the Big Three around him? He still doesn’t have a consistently reliable jump shot and without Allen and Garnett defenses will force him to do much more. When the Celtics add players around him they need to keep this in mind. Rondo is a good point guard, but doesn’t have the offensive skills to carry an offense.
Avery Bradley (two years, $4.1 million) – It’s way too early to say what Bradley will and will not bring to the Celtics after playing just 30 games as a rookie. However, even if he only becomes a solid backup guard this is a decent salary.
JaJuan Johnson (2011 first-round pick) – If Johnson signed a rookie scale deal under the old CBA it would be worth up to $5.7 million over four years. Since all 2011 first-round picks were unsigned when the lockout began, Johnson will sign his deal under the new CBA. The scale may drop a bit, but chances are very good the Celtics will receive decent value for their investment. If Johnson can develop into a starter – and with Garnett maybe or maybe not returning on a cheaper contract he may get the shot earlier rather than later – so much the better.
In the short-term – meaning, if there were a 2011-12 season – the Boston Celtics would have serious problems filling out a roster with talent no matter what the salary cap. However, with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen coming off the cap in 2012 the team’s position becomes much more manageable. Should they not pay the full $15.3 million to Paul Pierce in 2013-14, the outlook gets even better.
Overall Grade Looking Forward: B+