Celtics 2020 offseason primer — How can Celtics improve as a contender?

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The Celtics’ season came to a disappointing end on Sunday night and there will be big decisions to be made in the coming weeks and months for Boston’s front office. What does the team’s cap and draft situation look like? We will be going through the nitty-gritty of countless scenarios in the coming weeks here at BSJ but to get you ready for the circumstances that Danny Ainge has to work with, let’s breakdown everything you need to know about the Celtics offseason.

Under contract for 2020-21

Kemba Walker ($34.3 million)
Jaylen Brown ($23 million)
Marcus Smart ($13.4 million)
Jayson Tatum ($9.8 million)
Daniel Theis ($5 million – non-guaranteed)
Romeo Langford ($3.6 million)
Vincent Poirier ($2.6 million)
Grant Williams ($2.5 million)
Robert Williams ($2.0 million)
Carsen Edwards ($1.5 million)
Javonte Green ($1.5 million non-guaranteed)

Guaranteed money committed if Hayward opts out: $95.8 million to ten players

Guaranteed money committed if Hayward opts in: $129.9 million to 11 players

Guaranteed money committed if Hayward and Kanter opts in: $134.9 million to 12 players

Guaranteed contracts: 12 (if Kanter, Hayward both opt in)

Non-guaranteed contracts: 2 (Ojeleye (7/1 team option), Green

Projected salary cap for 2020-21 as of January: $115 million

Projected luxury tax for 2020-21 as of January: $140 million

BSJ Analysis: Big contracts and rookie deals are the name of the game here, as has commonly been the case this decade. The biggest shift in the cap sheet comes with Jaylen Brown who will be transitioning from his rookie salary to his extension deal with his salary ballooning to $23 million per year. Smart remains a bargain with his $13.4 million salary but is probably the only movable trade chip on the C’s roster that’s making any kind of significant money. Walker’s in the second year of his four-year max deal and won’t be going anywhere despite a tough finish to the postseason. The same goes for Tatum, who will be eligible to sign an extension this fall.

The Celtics’ biggest problem might actually be swallowing some losses in order to open up needed roster spots for improvements. Vincent Poirier has been a bust in year one but it still owed $2.6 million for next season. He will be a candidate to be moved (perhaps with a pick as a sweetener) or simply waived. Carsen Edwards and Javonte Green will be playing for roster spots in training camp as well. The Celtics have some draft picks they can move if they want to make some upgrades without touching their core but they will be limited in how much salary they can take thanks to the small money deals at the bottom of their roster. How much flexibility they will have isn’t clear just yet as the NBA and NBPA still have to negotiate terms on an adjusted CBA for next season in the wake of a huge decline in revenue that will result in an adjusted cap number and/or luxury tax rule changes.


Gordon Hayward ($34.1 million – player option)

Enes Kanter ($5 million – player option)

BSJ Analysis: There’s a weak free agent class out there this summer but in the wake of an injury-riddled season for Hayward (broken hand, sprained ankle, foot pain), it’s hard to envision him turning down $34 million. The Celtics could try to engage him on an extension at a reduced number but those talks won’t happen until there is some clarification about the CBA. Either way, Hayward is a lock to stay in Boston.

Kanter’s option is a little more interesting. It’s tough to see him doing better on the open market than $5 million but he could be looking for a bigger role than he saw in Boston, especially during the postseason. Finding a playoff team that wants to give him bigger minutes feels like a long shot given his defensive limitations so he may just opt to take the money and bench role for a second straight season.

Conclusion: Hayward and Kanter will opt in


Daniel Theis ($5 million)

Analysis: This is a nice placeholder deal for the Celtics, who will have plenty of flexibility with the 6-foot-8 German. Theis has had a strong year and asserted himself as a main center in the rotation, making this type of salary a bargain for Boston even with the cap shrinking.

Semi Ojeleye ($1.8 million)

Analysis; The Celtics have until the start of free agency to pick up this cheap deal. On the one hand, Ojeleye is a reliable defender and shot a career-best 37.8 percent from 3-point range this season,  growth that would entice the C’s to hold onto him. However, his offensive limitations in the postseason were crystal clear and the C’s already have a young/better player in Grant Williams who replicates a lot of Ojeleye’s skill set. I’d say he’s more likely to be kept than not but I wouldn’t rule out Boston going in another direction with this roster spot given their glut of young talent.

Javonte Green ($1.5 million — non-guaranteed until midseason 2020-21)

Analysis: The undrafted journeyman rookie was a great story this year, turning into a contributor for a chunk of the regular season after earning the 15th roster spot in training camp. The Celtics likely will give a chance to earn a roster spot again during training camp but he will be facing stiff competition from a batch of new draft picks and Tremont Waters for one of the final open spots on the 15-man roster.


Brad Wanamaker

The reserve point guard delivered a standout season off the bench after waiting for his turn for a bigger role following the departure of Terry Rozier and others from the roster last offseason. He’s likely earned a little bit of a raise from his minimum salary deal after shooting 36 percent from 3-point range in the regular season and the C’s will have the flexiblity to give it to him since they will have Early Bird rights on him in free agency. This could be an area the Celtics try to upgrade anyway via free agency or trade but keeping Wanamaker around as a second or third point guard will be an appealing option if the price stays low.

Future Draft picks for 2020 NBA Draft

No. 14 (via Memphis)

No. 26

No. 30 (via Milwaukee)

No. 45 (via Brooklyn)

Those first round selections will have a combined salary-cap hit of $8 million based on the 120