Amidst swirling trade rumors and rampant speculation, Wyc was on WEEI today and made a very curious statement. From the transcript on Green Street:
Addressing recently swirling trade rumors: “What not many people realize is how many calls are made and received throughout the league. We had a starting five that went a record 27-2. We can also offer someone a full max contract to someone next summer.” On his views of the NBA’s salary cap: “I didn’t really care about it as a fan. I wanted to put together an ownership group that would be able to put the best team on the floor and win. I’ll go find the money, and we’ll go in for another banner. The league has things in place to keep a lot of that from happening but we have a good revenue sharing system between the players and the owners in place. There’s a lot of sharing in between.” On the important free agency summer of 2010: “There is a scenario under which we could do that.”
Wyc said that there is a scenario under which we can offer a max contract to one of the premier free agents who will be available next summer. But what would that scenario be?
As of right now, here is what Hoopshype has the Celtics committed to in 2010-2011. Kevin Garnett $18,800,000 Ray Allen $0 Paul Pierce $21,513,521 (player option) Kendrick Perkins $4,390,208 Rajon Rondo $3,780,214 (qualifying offer) JR Giddens $1,100,640 (team option) Bill Walker $854,389 (team option) Total $44,726,729
The salary cap this season is expected to be around $58 million. That may stay the same or go up next season, but let's assume it stays at $58,000,000.
Let's look at a couple of scenarios on how this season and next could possibly play out. The Celtics would need to hang on to Ray Allen and let his contract expire. If they want to re-sign him, they could do so after the max contract was offered. They would have to put off giving Rajon Rondo an extension and offer him a qualifying offer and then work out his contract after the free agent was signed. They would need to let Big Baby walk as they would have to offer him a mid-level type contract to keep him. They could offer Leon Powe a minimum contract, and fill out the roster this season with 1 year contracts, which would probably be for the vet minimum. If we do all that, we would still be only around $14 million under the cap, which is not enough for a max contract.
There is a second scenario that may allow us to offer a max contract to some free agent. Let's say that the Celtics re-sign Big Baby for about $3-4 million. And they use the MLE this season and offer some player or players 2 year contracts at the MLE. That would add another approximately $6 million to the salary. That puts them around $54,726,729. This is probably underestimating it. That isn't enough for a max contract. But in this scenario, we can find out how much of a team player Paul Pierce is and how much he wants another ring. He has a player option for 2010-2011. If he opts out of that final year, that gives them enough money under the cap to sign a player to a max contract. The Celtics can then resign Pierce after the free agent is signed, hopefully for a little less. KG took a pay cut when he negotiated his extension upon coming to Boston. It could be Pierce's turn to return the favor.
Of course, this has to assume that Rondo would be willing to wait on working out an extension until after said free agent is signed. It also assumes that Big Baby would agree to $4 million. It also assumes that there are no trades and we go with the team we have now. And most of all, it assumes that Paul Pierce would agree to opt out of over $21 million to allow the Celtics to do this.
Is this a possibility? Maybe, but I don't know how likely it would be. But, it shows that Wyc is right, there is a scenario that would allow them to sign a max player. It would put the Celtics way into the luxury tax and so we would have to assume that Wyc is being truthful when he says that they are willing to pay for the right players and are committed to winning another championship.