Rebuilding The Celtics (No Kyrie or Horford)

Rebuilding is never easy. Especially the first phase. Add to that the end of the era of contention came rather abruptly. Irving pledged his loyalties to Boston prior to the 2018-19 season. A month prior he spoke of his number 11 hanging in the rafters someday. Forgive fans for having a little whiplash as it becomes increasingly likely those words were just that: words. After all, sports is a business. It’s a business when a team trades a player in lieu of paying him and it’s all the same a free agent takes the initiative and chooses his own path rather than his destiny being in the hands of the general manager.

We can complain all we want, but time marches on and the time for licking our wounds can commence when his departure becomes official. Until then, let’s move on to what Boston can look forward to after Irving.

If Irving leaves and Horford does not restructure his contract, instead opts-in for the final year of his deal worth $30,123,014 the Celtics will have only the minimum to build a contender on the fly and likely won’t be able to pull a rabbit out of the hat this time. They’ll need to find diamonds in the rough in free agency to replace outgoing free agents Marcus Morris and Terry Rozier and Daniel Theis. Assuming Baynes remains in Boston he is due for $5.3 million and even if he does opt-out of the final year of his contract it doesn’t effect Boston’s already tight fiscal situation by himself. If the trifecta of Kyrie, Horford and Baynes all opt-out the Celtics are looking at $32,410,857 in space if Morris, Theis, Gibson, Rozier, and Wanamaker all follow suit.

In the likelihood Baynes stays the Celtics have $27,854,735 in their pockets. Many want the Celtics to go with the youth movement. I say we can do this and still hold on to players who can become valuable assets in future trade talks, like Marcus Morris or even Rozier. Preferably Morris. I have no qualms paying him $13 to $15 million a year if the length is short. He’ll fit smoothly into most teams cap and the Celtics lack that filer salary of a player that isn’t essential to their long term goals. Only non-superstar player on the roster that’s handsomely paid is Marcus Smart and I have no interest in moving him. If they can convince Morris to take on fewer years and in return will front-load his contract I think Boston will have not only a killer sixth man, but a trade chip that can be used to get potentially a lottery pick in the future.

Despite all the negativity surrounding Boston they do have a couple of feathers to put in their cap for the upcoming 2019-20 season. I am very optimistic in Gordon Hayward’s ability to bounce back thanks in large part to having a full summer of rehab. Even though this’ll be a weak draft the Celtics can nab a pretty diamond in the rough with either of their 14th, 20th and 22nd picks. My personal favorites in this draft are P.J Washington, a 6-8 forward out of Kentucky who developed a reputation as a sharpshooter his sophomore season. Romeo Langford of Indiana. A young, under-looked prospect that can get to the line at a rate that makes James Harden blush! Someone I hope falls to 14, but isn’t likely to, is Texas center Jaxson Hayes. His recovery time plus his length brings me flashbacks to Myles Turner. It helps Hayes went to the same school as the defensive stud currently on Indiana.

Or Ainge can simply punt on this years’ draft in hopes of wiggling himself into next years’ by packaging the three firsts he has now to someone who’s fallen for one of the prospects I just listed.

Either way, the possibilities for Boston are there.

If Morris walks in free agency because the price ultimately scares the front office too much they can turn to former Celtic Jeff Green. I’ll be shocked if he makes nearly $5 million his next contract. But he’s a serviceable backup forward, can score in the restricted-area and defend better than outgoing backup Theis. There’s also James Ennis, Vince Carter, Bojan Bodanović who is basically Morris minus the athleticism.

Let’s say Boston signs Morris to two-years, $13,800,000 per, adding up to $27,600,000. That leaves Boston $18,539,393 to play with and their $9.2 million mid-level, their $5.7 mini mid-level, $4.7 million room mid-level and $3.6 million bi-annual. Since Morris is Signed the Celtics are set at forward and we can look at their needs at guard and center next.

Terry Rozier is sick of being marginalized in Boston and fans frankly tired of him playing like utter garbage for the most crucial season in the franchise’s history since 2008. No matter how the feeling of dissatisfaction is mutual the ball is in Ainge’s court whether he wants to keep the disgruntled Rozier rather than let is cheap salary figure go. They can try and sign a ball-handler like Rajon Rondo, Cory Joseph or defenders like Darren Collision or Austin Rivers over retaining Rozier. Only those are more expensive options with fewer seasons. If Irving does stay I see Joseph signing in Boston on a one-year minimum to chase a ring. But under these circumstances where the Celts are rebuilding I’d assume Ainge and Rozier kiss and make up and the team inks him to a modest multiple year deal for about 5 or 6 million a season. For the sake of this exercise, let’s put the number at $5.2 million. Leaving Boston $13,339,393 to spend.

There is no team out there that consider giving Rozier anywhere near that figure. If he is still unhappy, even if his role is more emphasized with a departing Irving, the C’s will have an easier time unloading him because he’ll act as salary flotsam for someone like Eric Gordon if the Rockets are looking to clean house in February. Plus Rozier is still a solid starter, only he’ll be blocked by Marcus Smart as the team’s primary point guard. But maybe that’ll end up as a positive for T-Ro as he is a vastly superior off-ball presence than on-ball.

Assuming the Celtics draft another guard (or two) in the draft, it can be the aforementioned Langford or USC’s Kevin Porter or Kentucky’s guard/forward hybrid Keldon Johnson, the Celtics are just about finished at guard.

Just to stop here and look at the team. The Celtics starters look something like this: Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum and Aron Baynes, with Morris as the sixth man. As far as rebuilding teams go, that’s pretty good. We’ll see more of Robert Williams and he’ll take his lumps. The energy on the floor and the team is noticeably different when Williams is on the floor.

But he isn’t ready to be a featured backup center. Boston will need to look for a suitable backup. And with over $13 million to spare they can take a gander at DeAndre Jordan or pursue cheaper options such as DeWayne Dedmon. The sexist choice is D.J. An other worldly rim protector and anchor of any defense. His free throw problems have seemingly vanished. Shooting 70.5 percent off of 264 attempts. Except he is older, slower and his total dunks from this past season (167) is far behind his previous season’s mark (212).

On the other side, Dedmon is the biggest potential steal of this free agent draft class. Averaging 3.4 attempts from beyond the arc for Atlanta this season, converting on 38 percent of them, Dedmon is not a lane clogger like D.J. Overall, Dedmon just fits better in Stevens’ scheme. You can imagine Dedmon playing the exact same role Baynes does. Also, Stevens has shown in the past unable to incorporate back to the basket bigs. Be it David Lee or Greg Monroe, if you can’t stretch the floor then Brad can’t find use for you.

Signing Dedmon to a handsome $9.2 million leaves Boston with a $4,139,393. After signing three of their four draft picks, assuming they send whomever they select 51st overseas, the Celts are $1,953,493 under the salary cap and $24,953,493 under the tax line.

To recap: here’s our team and their 2019-20 salaries:
Gordon Hayward $32,700,690
Marcus Morris $13,800,000
Marcus Smart $12,553,571
DeWayne Dedmon $9,200,000
Jayson Tatum $7,830,000
Jaylen Brown $6,534,829
Aron Baynes $5,453,280
Terry Rozier $5,200,000
Guerschon Yabusele $3,117,240
P.J Washington $2,878,300
Romeo Langford $2,149,100
Keldon Johnson $1,980,600
Robert Williams $1,937,520
Semi Ojeleye $1,618,520
Total: $106,953,650

Marcus Smart
Jaylen Brown
Gordon Hayward
Jayson Tatum
Aron Baynes

Marcus Morris, DeWayne Dedmon, P.J Washington, Terry Rozier, Romeo Langford, Keldon Johnson, Robert Williams, Semi Ojeleye, Guerschon Yabusele

That’s a fifty-win team.

That is all.

Author: sailboatstudios

Hack. Amateur. Professional quitter.

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