Without making any real blockbuster moves this summer, the Boston Celtics have quietly had a positive, productive offseason adding young talent to an already impressive core of players. The Celtics have acquired five new players thus far in the offseason, while only two (Kris Humphries and Jerryd Bayless) have moved on.They added a pair of talented rookies in the draft in Marcus Smart and James Young, picked up Tyler Zeller and Marcus Smart via trade and have recently agreed to a deal with free agent Evan Turner. While general manager Danny Ainge has done a wonderful job, the size of his roster has blown out to 18 players and the Celtics need to trim the roster down to 15 before the start of the 2014-15 season.
The Celtics have announced an eight-game preseason starting in Boston on Oct. 6 that will give the team a final chance to assess the roster prior to the season. The Celtics have three players on non-guaranteed contracts that they will need to make a decision on and a number of overlaps in the rotation due to the depth at certain positions.
Trying to make a dramatic improvement on the disappointment of last season, the Celtics need to manage their assets wisely and while the final roster spots rarely make-or-break a season, they do not want to lose cheap assets for nothing or hinder the development of young players due to keeping unnecessary veterans.
So who are the players who could be casualties of the Celtics’ depth and looking for a new home prior to the 2014-15 season?
A D-League call-up last season, Babb is all too familiar with the uncertainty of this time of year. Two years in a row, Babb has been with the Celtics for summer league and preseason but has been cut prior to the season.
Thanks to injuries last season, he was given his first NBA opportunity albeit in limited time. He played 14 games and averaged 1.6 points and 1.2 rebounds in 9.4 minutes per game.
The 24-year-old guard is on a non-guaranteed deal and appears the most likely candidate to be cut before the season.
The 34-year-old veteran will almost certainly not play a game for the Celtics this upcoming season, but that does not necessarily mean he will not be on the roster. Bogans has an extremely valuable contract that is non-guaranteed to the tune of $5.5 million.
This makes him an asset in trades as teams can immediately cut him and save the remaining amount on his contract. Bogans appeared it just six games last season before he was told to stay home for the remainder of the year.
Recent additions have pushed the Celtics close to the tax line so they may be better off cutting Bogans themselves, but you can bet Ainge will explore all trade options before that time.
Brandon Bass has been one of the Celtics’ most reliable and consistent players for a number of years now. The 29-year-old veteran forward played all 82 games for the Celtics last season, averaging 11.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game.
He is an excellent mid-range shooter, a solid defender and professional on and off the court. Despite the positives Bass brings to the team, the recent influx of young big men may mean his days in Boston are numbered.
Zach Lowe’s Grantland feature on big men mentioned that the Celtics have been furiously trying to trade Bass, albeit unsuccessfully for some time.
The league might be fetishisizing the 3-point shot, especially among big men, at the expense of other skills. The Celtics have tried like hell, but they can’t get anything of value on the trade market for Brandon Bass and his $6.9 million expiring contract.
With Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk and recent addition Tyler Zeller all needing significant playing time, it may be time for the Celtics to part ways with Bass to open up playing time for the future of the Celtics’ frontcourt. Bass is a solid two-way player and deserving of significant playing time, but in the rebuilding situation the Celtics find themselves in, he simply may not have a place on the roster.
Bass is in the last year of a deal that will pay him $6.9 million this season and could be a valuable addition to any team looking to bolster their frontcourt. Look for Ainge to explore options moving Bass right up until he has to make his final roster cuts.
Johnson was called up from the D-League last season and was one of the surprising positives in an otherwise forgettable season for the Celtics. The 24-year-old swingman made the most of his opportunities and played significant minutes in coach Brad Stevens’ rotation.
Johnson played in 40 games and in 19.7 minutes per game averaged 6.3 points, 2.4 rebounds and knocked down 1.1 3-pointers.
Johnson also has a non-guaranteed deal with the Celtics, but his cheap contract is the team’s option to pick up right through to 2016-17. It would be tough for Ainge to cut such a cheap asset after Johnson proved he was able to compete at the NBA level and would be playing for the minimum for potentially three more seasons.
It may be Ainge’s last resort to cut Johnson if he is unable to move any of his veterans via trade.
We know with Danny Ainge to expect the unexpected, so we could see anything from simple roster cuts right through to blockbuster trades before the start of next season. There remains the possibility of moving star point guard Rajon Rondo or starting small forward Jeff Green, but it seems like Boston may hold off doing anything drastic, at least in the short term.
The team would love to move the two years and $20 plus million owed to Gerald Wallace, but they would likely have to part with valuable assets to get that done and would have to take back significant contracts in return.
The one wildcard could be second-year big man Vitor Faverani. Faverani suffered through injury in his rookie year and was recently involved in a car accident where he was driving under the influence of alcohol.
There has been no word from Ainge or the Celtics about the incident but Faverani could well come into consideration when looking at ways to trim the roster. The big man may be too talented and affordable to let go for no return however.
All-in-all, it seems almost certain that Chris Babb will be the first to go, followed one way or another by Keith Bogans. If Ainge cannot find a taker for Bass before the start of the season he may also have no choice but to cut Chris Johnson, and with the recent additions of depth to the wings it may not be such a big loss.
Expect to see the Celtics involved in at least one small trade in the next couple of weeks which should make the process of having to trim the roster down to 15 players slightly easier for Ainge and Co.
Tags: Boston Celtics