Celtics

NBA Notebook: Resetting the Celtics’ free agency options after the draft

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The Celtics did some wheeling and dealing on draft night, making two trades that served a variety purposes as they attempt to put their best step forward for the 2019-20 season. Let’s take a closer look at the steps Danny Ainge and company took heading into free agency and examine an overview of the future of the team’s free agents.

Guaranteed Salaries for 2019-20 season 

Gordon Hayward: $32.7 million
Marcus Smart: $12.6 million
Jayson Tatum: $7.8 million
Jaylen Brown: $6.5 million
Guerschon Yabusele: $3.1 million
Robert Williams: $1.9 million
Semi Ojeleye: $1.3 million
Romeo Langford (No. 14 pick): $3.45 million
Grant Williams (No. 22 pick): $2.38 million
Carsen Edwards (No. 33 pick): $897,158
Tremont Waters (No. 51 pick): $897,158
Cap Hold 1: $897,158

Guaranteed money committed: $74.8 million to seven veteran players and four draft slots and a mandatory cap hold.
2019 NBA Salary Cap Projection: $109 million
Luxury Tax Projection: $132 million

Draft pick cap implications

Romeo Langford and Grant Williams: The Celtics will sign both players for 120 percent of their draft slot (the league standard for all draft picks). The total for Langford ($3.45 million) and Williams ($2.37 million) will count against the cap for the same amount no matter when they sign so this will have no bearing on the C's free agency.

Carsen Edwards: The Celtics liked Edwards enough that they were considered him with their one of their first-round picks according to a team source, but they were confident enough that he would be available later. That realization allowed them to pick up an asset in the trade with the Sixers (No. 20 for No. 24 and 33) that ended up turning into Edwards in the second round. In addition to picking up a second pick, they got a side benefit when it comes to creating potential cap room by dumping the No. 20 pick ($2.6 million).

Instead of having that amount count against the cap, they get to slot in a minimum cap hold ($897,158) until Edwards signs (the standard hold for any second round pick). He will likely sign for more than that (probably up to a four-year deal with part of C's cap room) but the Celtics get to open up $1.7 million more under the cap by moving back a few slots in the draft to take him. That was not the impetus of the move by itself, but it serves as a size benefit to give Boston a little more ammo to work with if they want to open up max cap room.

Tremont Waters: Like Edwards, he gets a minimum cap hold and will be in the running for a roster spot depending on how he performs in summer league and training camp. The Celtics were high enough on Waters according to a team source that they had him slotted in the top-30 on their draft board. Whether or not he makes the team or signs a two-way deal eventually, his cap hold will count the same this summer ($897,158).

Current depth chart

PG: Smart, Edwards, Waters (if he makes team)

Wings: Tatum, Hayward, Brown, Langford

Bigs: Grant Williams, Ojeleye, Robert Williams, Yabusele

Frontcourt overview: There is a pretty big hole in the middle after the Baynes trade that will need to be addressed via free agency and trade. It’s easy to see Grant Williams slotting in and taking at least a good chunk of minutes at power forward off the bench and potentially more depending on how well he acclimates right away to the pro game. There’s also a reasonable chance that Tatum ends up starting at the four again, but if that’s the case, the Celtics are going to have to add a more traditional big or above-average rebounder at center to ensure they won’t get demolished on the glass on a nightly basis. Robert Williams will get a chance but he’s going to have to have a big summer to get some consideration for the starting spot. I’d put it as a coin flip on whether Yabusele is on the roster next season at this point.

Backcourt overview: The backcourt is a fascinating situation as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Celtics end up giving Marcus Smart a chance to run the show as a starting point guard after his breakout year but there’s no question that Stevens loves him as an energy guy off the bench too. After earning first-team All-Defense, going back to the bench would be a tough demotion for Smart, so the bet here is that Smart remains in the starting five in some form. He could slide to the shooting guard slot (with Brown staying as a bench weapon) if a top tier point guard is targeted in free agency but this part of this roster is definitely in good shape compared to the frontcourt. Opportunity will be plenty here for Smart, Hayward, Tatum and Brown to soak up big minutes, while Edwards and Langford will get some bench run behind them that will be dependent on how well their game translates to the NBA right away.    

Cap Room Scenarios

There have been all kinds of references on social media to how much cap room the Celtics can open up this offseason, but a lot of that depends on which of the team’s own free agents are