After a flurry of activity on Tuesday, the Boston Celtics had a quiet Wednesday. This is the part of the offseason when things typically start to downshift a bit. The Celtics still have some work to do and there's always potential for a late-July squall, but this lull seemed like a good time to analyze what Boston has accomplished thus far and what's left on its offseason to-do list.
THE OFFSEASON SO FAR
A rundown of the transactions that Boston has made since late June:
• July 2: Agreed to four-year, $32 million extension with restricted free agent guard Avery Bradley
• July 10: Announced the signings of Smart and Young
SNAPSHOT: THE DEPTH CHART
Celtics 2014-15 depth chart
A look at Boston's positional depth chart (as of July 16):
SALARIES IN FOCUS
A look at the Boston Celtics' current salary commitment:
The Celtics are currently committed to roughly $78.7 million for 17 players. A handful of notes on the current roster/cap situation:
• The Celtics stand $15.6 million over the 2014-15 salary cap ($63.1 million). The team can only add players via available cap exceptions (more on that below).
• The Celtics stand $1.9 million over the 2014-15 luxury tax line ($76.8 million). Tax calculations are made after the season, meaning Boston has plenty of time to get back below the line (something that should occur naturally while trimming to the league maximum of 15 bodies before the start of the regular season).
• Boston has three nonguaranteed contracts totaling roughly $7 million, which gives it one easy way to trim bodies and salary if needed. Phil Pressey's contract became fully guaranteed when he remained on the roster after July 15. The contracts for Chris Johnson, Chris Babb and Keith Bogans have no guarantee date, though their salaries would be pro-rated if carried into the start of the regular season and would become fully guaranteed in early January.
• Rookies Smart and Young were signed to 120 percent of their rookie scale contracts (the maximum allowed).
• Anthony had a player option for the 2014-15 season, which he (wisely) elected to pick up despite the fact that he doesn't project to see an increased role if he remains with Boston.
CAN BOSTON STILL ACQUIRE PLAYERS?
Sure, the Celtics could theoretically add more bodies. That's more likely to occur via the trade route considering the current roster/cap situation. But Boston does have a couple of available exceptions to sign free agents if it desired.
* Midlevel exception: The Celtics have the nontaxpayer's midlevel available, allowing them to spend as much as $5.3 million. (Keep in mind that some trimming would need to be done at the moment as Boston must remain on or below the luxury tax apron -- $4 million over the tax line -- in order to use that larger exception.) It would seem more likely that Boston would stash the exception for use later in the season (when a future-minded addition could be made), though the Celtics also could utilize smaller chunks of the midlevel to sign players, as they did last offseason in adding Pressey and Vitor Faverani (then later signing Johnson and Babb during the season).
* Biannual exception: The Celtics haven't used the smaller biannual exception in recent seasons (valued at a little more than $2 million). It cannot be used in consecutive seasons and might be more valuable down the road.
WHAT DOES THE TEAM HAVE FOR TRADE ASSETS?
The Celtics could utilize their signed talent as part of trades, but keep in mind that recently signed rookies can't be moved for 30 days. Boston also could utilize the following assets:
* Trade exceptions: Boston already used its prettiest gem -- a $10.3 million trade exception generated in last summer's blockbuster with Brooklyn -- to bring in Zeller, Thornton and a first-round pick. The team still has a $2.1 million exception from the trade that sent Courtney Lee to Memphis (expires in early January), a $4.3 million exception that will be generated when the Humphries-to-Washington deal is formally completed (it will expire one year from that date); and a $283,816 exception that's unlikely to be used from the deal that sent Fab Melo to Memphis (expires in mid-August). Remember that trade exceptions cannot be combined, though they can be split and used to bring back multiple players that fit into the exception, as highlighted by the Zeller/Thornton trade.
* Draft picks: Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge's biggest treasure is a growing stash of draft picks that includes as many as nine first-round picks over the next five years. In fact, this deserves its own section ...
FUTURE DRAFT PICKS IN FOCUS
1st round: Boston, Clippers, Philadelphia*
2nd round: Boston***, Philadelphia**, Sacramento***
* Philadelphia's pick is lottery protected
** Philadelphia conveys if in lottery
*** Only conveyed if between picks 56-60
1st round: Boston, Brooklyn, Cleveland*
2nd round: Boston***, Miami, Philadelphia**
* Cleveland's pick is top-10 protected until 2019
** Philadelphia conveys if in lottery in 2015
*** Potentially conveyed to Utah or Memphis
1st round: Boston*
2nd round: Boston**, Sacramento***
* Boston has option to swap with Brooklyn
** If Boston swaps with Brooklyn, it loses pick if between 46-60
*** Only conveyed if between picks 56-60
1st round: Boston, Brooklyn
2nd round: Boston
2019 Draft (and beyond)
1st round: Boston
2nd round: Boston
SO WHAT'S THE STORY FROM HERE?
Most Celtics fans remain hopeful for those much-ballyhooed "fireworks," keeping their fingers crossed that Kevin Love might fall into their lap (while others turned their attention to how to acquire Kings center DeMarcus Cousins after he gushed about Rajon Rondo during a Grantland podcast). Ainge has the assets to attract an impact player from a team that could benefit from picks and/or young talent. The question is simply whether he'll find a deal that can help the Celtics now (and into the future) or continue to be patient with the team's assets.
With a focus on what Boston actually has: Babb and Johnson face an uphill battle for a roster spot. Boston had the luxury of carrying both D-League call-ups at the end of last season due to injuries and available spots, but roster and cap space could be important later this season.
While most assumed Bogans would be dealt this summer -- and moving his salary would be an easy way to dip below the tax line -- the Celtics know his nonguaranteed deal is an asset because of the immediate savings it can offer a trade partner. The team should be in no hurry to waive Bogans when it can keep exploring potential trade avenues to maximize his return.
If no other deals materialize, Boston could always go into the season with this roster (minus a couple of bodies). Moving someone like Brandon Bass could make it easier for Stevens to give minutes to the team's younger players, but that also could be revisited in February.
The guess here is that Ainge and his staff will continue to investigate every possible way to add impact players and position themselves to strike when the right deal emerges. Owner Wyc Grousbeck likes to reference how the Kevin Garnett acquisition didn't materialize until late July. Just because things go quiet doesn't mean the potential for more moves is gone.
We've noted how the summer of 2015 could be Boston's best opportunity for a big splash. The more important theme is that Boston has given itself something most rebuilding teams don't have: flexibility.
Boston will set off fireworks at some point, but you only get one chance to light the wick on that big firecracker. The team has exercised great patience to this point and shouldn't rush.
Rondo's future remains uncertain and there's a belief that the team must add talent sooner than later to encourage him to stick around when he becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer. Our belief has been that Boston simply needs to show Rondo that the team is on the path back to contender status, and that should be enough to keep him intrigued in leading the team into a brighter future.
There's still a lot of work to be done, but the Celtics have patiently navigated the course in hopes that their diligence will be rewarded down the road.