8 things to know about the Celtics heading into the offseason

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The Celtics may not have to say goodbye to anyone who played a pivotal role in their run to the Finals.

Brad Stevens has plenty of reasons to enter his second season as Celtics chairman with a smile on his face. Jim Davis/Universal Staff

While the Celtics’ season ended disappointingly in a Finals loss to the Golden State Warriors, they are entering the offseason in a very good position.

Not only are the Celtics’ star duo still young, they’re on contract for the foreseeable future, and they can bring back every key player around them if they want to. All of the key rotation players in Boston’s Finals are on contracts for the 2022-23 season, so the Celtics don’t have to worry about losing anyone for nothing in return.

Nonetheless, the Celtics may look to multiple avenues to improve their roster as they are just two wins away from an 18th title. Here are eight things to know about the Celtics offseason.

A decision will be made at Al Horford.

When the Celtics regain Horford in a June 2021 trade with the Thunder, most analysts see the deal as a way for Boston to save money by getting rid of point guard Kemba Walker’s max contract Way.

Not only did the Celtics save money with this trade, but they also ended up getting a player who played a key role in their run to the Finals. After an unforgettable two years in Philadelphia and Oklahoma City, Horford has enjoyed a resurgent season in his first year back in Boston. The power forward started all 69 games he played, averaging 10.2 points and 7.7 rebounds in 29.1 minutes per game during the regular season.

Horford continued his strong play in the playoffs, scoring 30 points in a Game 4 win over the Bucks, even in a second-round series at the time, and in his first Finals game. 26 points.

Although Horford turns 36 in early June, his regular-season and playoff performances make it very likely that the Celtics will offer him the full $26.5 million guaranteed next season, which is his contract the last year. Brian Robb of MassLive reported in May that the Celtics plan to bring Horford back next season.

Initially, Horford’s salary for the 2022-23 season was only guaranteed at $14.5 million. But as the Celtics reached the Finals, Horford was guaranteed an additional $5 million to his contract. Horford’s salary for the 2022-23 season will be fully guaranteed if the Celtics win the title.

Who are the Celtics’ pending free agents?

Center Luke Kornet was the only unrestricted free agent on the Celtics roster last season. Boston signed him for the remainder of the 2021-22 season after the trade deadline, where Boston needs to sign multiple players to fill the back end of the roster.

Still, other Celtics could end up in free agency. Forward Sam Hauser has a $1.6 million team option next season, and forward Juwan Morgan also has a $1.8 million team option next year.

Guard Nik Stauskas will make $2.2 million next season, which is fully guaranteed if he makes the roster before July 15. If the Celtics want or need an additional roster, they can release him before then to save money. Forward Malik Fitz’s $1.8 million salary next season is also non-guaranteed.

Guard Brodick Thomas and forward Matt Ryan are both two-way players in restricted free agency after the season.

When will the Celtics enter the NBA draft?

For the second straight round, Boston will have no first-round picks. The Celtics moved their 2022 first-round pick (25th overall) to the Spurs along with guards Josh Richardson and Romeo Langford to acquire Derrick White in February. As part of the deal, Boston also gave San Antonio the right to trade first-round picks in the 2028 draft.

As a result, the Celtics have only one option in Thursday’s draft, holding the 53rd overall pick. Of course, they can always trade back to the first round, but that may require them to give up a player on the roster and/or a future draft pick. The Celtics currently hold their first-round pick in every draft after 2022, and while they don’t have a second-round pick of their own in 2023, they hold that pick through other trades Three other second-round picks.

Do the Celtics have other young players joining them?

In each of the past two drafts, the Celtics used their second-round pick to select a pick and hide player. In 2020, they selected guard Israel point guard Yam Madar with the 47th overall pick and French shooting guard Juhann Begarin with the 45th overall pick in 2021.

Both players played for the Celtics in the 2021 Summer League before returning to their respective Europa Leagues the following season. Madar averaged 7.4 points per game for the Partizan NIS in the ABA, while Begarin averaged 11.1 points per game for the Paris basketball team in the LNB Pro A, the top French professional basketball league.

Considering that both players played in summer league last season, Madal and Begarin could play for the Celtics again in summer league in July. But since Boston already has so many players signed for next season, it’s going to be hard for any one player to get a spot next season.

What is the salary situation of the Celtics?

While every key player in their Finals has a contract for next season, that means the Celtics don’t have any cap space next season.

Including Horford’s fully guaranteed salary, the Celtics will earn about $157 million through Spotrac next season, well above the projected $122 million salary cap next season.

The NBA has a soft salary cap that allows teams to exceed it, but the league does have a luxury tax threshold that teams must pay for exceeding it. The Celtics’ current salary for next season is roughly $8 million above the projected luxury tax threshold of $149 million. The Celtics narrowly avoided becoming a tax-paying team in 2021-22 after this season’s February deadline trade, meaning they won’t be hit by a double-tax penalty next season.

So how can the Celtics add perimeter talent?

Despite the lack of cap space, Boston has multiple avenues to acquire veterans this offseason.

The Celtics could use the taxpayer middle-class exception to sign a free agent worth $6.3 million next season. Boston took advantage of the taxpayer mid-level exception last offseason to sign guard Dennis Schroder. It can also sign players to a veteran minimum. Obviously, players will have to sign for low wages, but after the playoffs, the Celtics could be attracting veterans looking to play for title contenders.

Boston also has several trading exceptions available. Most of them are small, but the Celtics have one at $5.8 million, another at $6.9 million, a third at $9.7 million, and their largest at $17.1 million.

Those exceptions may be the best way for the Celtics to add veterans this offseason. They have taken advantage of relatively large trade exceptions to acquire guards Evan Fournier and Josh Richardson in recent years. Both players were in the final year of their current deals when the Celtics acquired them, so keep that in mind when considering potential targets for trade exceptions. Another thing to keep in mind is that trade exceptions cannot be packaged together and players cannot be added to match a higher salary in a trade.

The Celtics also have several contracts in what is considered a “middle-class” salary range. However, Marcus Smart, Robert Williams and White appear to be key players for Boston heading into next year. Daniel Theis’ $8.7 million salary could help when matching salary in a trade, and Horford’s higher salary became easier to move in the final year of his deal.

Young players in rookie trades like Grant Williams, Payton Pritchard and Aaron Nesmith, as well as future draft picks, could also sweeten any trade package the Celtics roll out.

If Boston needs this offseason, it can also perform a sign-and-trade. However, teams that add players through sign-and-trade will be hard capped next season. In this case, the team’s hard salary cap is set within the luxury tax, usually several million above the luxury tax threshold.

Which players can be renewed?

Celtics star Jaylen Brown has two years left on his four-year, $106.3 million deal, but he’s actually eligible for an extension on Oct. 1. Brown could sign a three-year extension worth as much as $111 million, and possibly an additional $12 million in bonuses, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

Still, ESPN’s Zach Lowe recently said on his podcast “The Lowe Post” that he sees little chance of Brown re-signing in the offseason — not because he thinks Brown doesn’t want to be in Boston, but because of the money. The extension Brown signed in 2019 was not a max contract available to him at the time, meaning he won’t be able to sign a full max contract until he becomes a free agent in 2024.

If Brown makes the All-NBA team for the next two seasons, the potential max contract for his next contract could be even bigger. If he does, Brown could sign a five-year, up to $273 million contract with the Celtics in 2024, according to Marks. With Brown continuing to rise as a player, turning down a possible $160 million seems like little point.

Grant Williams is also eligible for an extension as he enters the final year of his rookie contract. An Eastern Conference general manager recently told Heavy.com’s Sean Deveney that Williams should be offered an extension worth between $450 million and $50 million over four years. For reference, the Celtics signed center Robert Williams to a four-year, $48 million contract while he was gearing up for a rookie extension.

If the Celtics keep Horford, they could also extend him. Horford will be 37 when he starts his next contract, making his projected value harder to judge.

Are the Celtics willing to get through this offseason?

Ultimately, what the Celtics do this offseason will come down to whether owners are willing to spend the extra money through the luxury tax, and how much they are willing to spend.

If the Celtics keep their rotation players, they can still add another $45.8 worth of salary if they use their mid-level exception and trade exception. If they do, their salary cap will hit $200 million next season.

Now, not all of those exceptions have to be used this offseason, as some of them won’t expire until January or February 2023. And they may not necessarily find the right deals to add talent through exceptions. However, as long as they are willing to spend money, they still have a way to increase players.

While the Celtics made adjustments under the luxury tax line for the season in February, owner Wyc Grousbeck has said in the past that he is willing to pay the tax for a title contender. In 2018, Grossbeck said “we’re ready to do whatever it takes to win again” when asked In an interview with 98.5 The Sports Hub If he is willing to pay the luxury tax. When the Celtics blog asked the question again in 2019, Grossbeck gave a similar answer.

“Our goal is to win a championship, and we’ve been crossing the line for a chance to compete,” Celtics Blog’s Jeff Clark told us. “Whenever in doubt, I try to think about what Redd, Bill Russell and all the great guys who built the Celtics wanted me/us to do. Celtics pride is number one here bit.”

As Grossbeck said, he and the Celtics have paid the luxury tax in the past, including when the team won its last championship in 2008. It looks like they might have to do it again to win the next title.

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