NBA Notebook: Projecting the looming paydays for 2019 Celtics free agents

Adam Richins/Boston Sports Journal

Across the NBA, free agency in the summer of 2019 is expected to be even more of a free for all than usual. Not only are there going to be a number of superstars (Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler) on the open market with uncertainty about their futures, but the pure volume of free agents will also be higher than ever. Nearly half of the players who signed contracts last summer opted for short-term deals in anticipation of a market that is expected to be flush with cash this summer as the salary cap rises and bloated deals come off the books.

The Celtics won’t be one of those teams with significant cap room. They already have $67 million in salary commitments, and that’s even before including Kyrie Irving’s projected max contract or Al Horford's $30 million player option. No matter what route Danny Ainge decides to take this offseason, the Celtics won’t have the ability to add to their roster from the open market beyond the taxpayer mid-level exception and minimum contracts. That fact makes the Celtics’ own free agents more important than ever if the team wants to a build on a contending core in 2019. Boston won’t have the ability to keep their entire roster intact, but as we pass the halfway point of the regular season, it’s a good time to check in on the stock of all these free agents-to-be and their projected price tags to get a better sense of the team’s planning as we approach the trade deadline.

Unrestricted free agents

Marcus Morris
Age: 29
Remaining contract: One year, $5.4 million (Bird Rights)
2018-19 stats: 15.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.4 apg 
Overview: The veteran forward is in the midst of a career year while playing one of the most sought-after positions on the open market (stretch forward). His defense has dropped off a little bit (the Celtics play better D when he’s off the floor) due to reduced quickness, but he has more than made up for it with his outside shooting (43 percent from 3) and defensive rebounding (highest rebounding rate of career). His insertion into the starting five helped the C’s get back on track this year, and he has rightfully entered the All-Star conversation.

Potential next contract: The market is going to be full of stretch 4s, but Morris has placed himself just below the top tier of talent out there, alongside the likes of Thaddeus Young and Nikola Mirotic, while just below Tobias Harris. He’s on track to at least