The Celtics made a major trade on draft night to bring in Ray Allen and Glen Davis for the 5th pick, Delonte and Wally. Since that time, we have been hearing from Danny and others that they aren't done dealing and that there is more to come. The team needs another center and a veteran point guard. We have seen several free agents signed and a few trades go down. But what can the Celtics do next?
First of all, before signing Big Baby and Pruitt, the Celtics have 14 players on the roster. With the two draft picks that would make 16. Pruitt and Davis are going to be signed because they are already selling their jerseys on Celtics.com. If there was any question about keeping either one of them, I don't think they would be hyping up the jerseys.
So, that puts us at 16 players. Before signing Pruitt and Davis, the salaries are at $63,835,088. The Luxury Tax level is set at 67,865,000 for the coming year. Let's assume that we sign both Davis and Pruitt to a contract similar to the ones that Powe and Gomes signed. That means that they will be getting somewhere around $687,456 each. That puts our payroll at 65,210,000 for 16 players. It is obvious that something has to give. The most obvious would be to cut a player to get us to the 15 player league max. And, the most obvious player to be cut would be Allan Ray who had a very disappointing Summer League and whose contract is not guaranteed. That leaves us with 15 players and a payroll $3,342,456 under the luxury tax.
Now, it is possible to get a free agent for around 3 million (see Scalabrine, Brian), but that still would give us too many players and I am not sure there is a free agent out there who is better than who we already have since Danny has watched while most of the free agents have been signed by other teams. So, the most logical move is for Danny to make a trade. With a roster filled with young players still on their rookie contracts, we would probably have to make a 2 or 3 for 1 trade to get anyone who is very good. We need a PG and a Center and it would be nice to get both in a package with a 3 or 4 for 2 trade. But, Bill Simmons in his July 11 ESPN chat had this to say:
They're not getting Camby. They have no real trade chips other than future picks and Theo Ratliff's contract, and that contract isn't going to have value until February when teams only have to pay a portion of it. They're trying to sell the "we're not done" card and I just don't believe them. If I'm wrong, so be it. But if the Celtics were honestly trying to make a run with Allen-Pierce-Jefferson in 2008, why haven't they been courting any free agents, and what big contracts guys are out there that they can actually get? I love Rondo's potential, but he made about 35 turnovers in the Spurs summer league game - it's going to take him another 2 years to become a consistently good NBA point guard. I just don't get it. It's like two rosters in one roster - three players who can be part of a contender, surrounded by a bunch of young guys who aren't remotely ready to have an impact in the playoffs, and a coach with a .467 winning percentage. it makes me crazy. I can't talk about them.
According to Simmons, what you see is what you get and he doesn't expect any more moves. In that case, Ratliff would be our back up center and Telfair and Pruitt would be our back up PGs. Powe and Davis would back up Jefferson at the 4 along with Scal and Gomes shifting between the 3 and 4 and Brandon Wallace spending some time at the 3. Gerald Green, Tony Allen and Pruitt would come off the bench at the 2. That doesn't seem too bad, they should make the playoffs, but I don't see them going too far into the playoffs. We have players with potential but most reports have them at least a year from reaching that potential. Maybe keeping them isn't all that bad, though. We make the playoffs this season and then possibly be contenders next season as these players we have been growing come into their own.
I have outlined quite a few of the centers and point guards who are available. I can't figure out why Danny isn't making a move to fill those needs unless he is still holding out hope for KG or unless he is happy with the team we have now and doesn't want to give up Jefferson, Gomes or Green, who have to be our main trade chips. Right now, it seems as though KG is either headed for Golden State or staying in Minnesota. In the same Simmons chat, he has this to say about the KG situation.
They [Golden State] make the most sense because they have a gigantic trade exception that could be used to absorb one of Minny's bad contracts (like Mark Blount or Marko Jaric). For instance, they could trade Al Harrington, Saranus's expiring deal, Brandan Wright, Patrick O'Bryant and either Biedrins or Ellis for KG, then make a separate deal in which they absorb the Blount contract for a 2nd round pick. And they'd still have enough left (Davis, Jackson, Ellis or Biedrins, Pietrus, the Italian kid, a FA signing) to contend with KG. The Warriors make the most sense.
As for the other deals out there, most teams want to dump salary and we are very close to the luxury tax threshold and word is that Wyc doesn't want to pay the luxury tax unless we were to get a sure fire all star. There have been a lot of rumors with names like Jarrett Jack and Channing Frye, AK 47, Marcus Camby, and Mike Bibby floating around but mostly, they are internet rumors and I don't really put much stock in them. I have seen a lot more in the media about how Ratliff and Telfair are working hard and are going to be able to play this season. But Danny may have a trade in the works and will pull it off when we least expect it.
If I were to guess what Danny is going to do, I would guess that he is going to pretty much stay with what we have with only a minor deal or two. I think Danny is going to try to stay under the luxury tax. We are going to let Allan Ray walk and that brings us to our limit of 15 players. If Danny is certain that Ratliff can play this season, he may go into the season as is and then try to make a trade around the deadline when Ratliff's contract has the most value. We have a good core of players with Al, Perk, Rondo, Pierce and Allen. If Tony Allen can come back close to where he was last season. If Pierce and Ray Allen can mesh. If Perk breaks out like I expect him to do. If Jefferson can continue his breakout play. If Gomes continues his strong play. If Green can finally get it. If Powe can continue his strong play from summer league. If Pruitt, Wallace, and Davis can contribute this season. If Ratliff can stay healthy (and everyone else for that matter). If Rondo and Telfair can run the point with some proficiency. And the biggest if of all, which is the weakest link, if Doc can actually coach this team. There are a lot of ifs, but there are also a lot of possibilities.