BOSTON – Let’s be honest about this summer for the Celtics: you were expecting more. Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck talked about the chance for some fireworks heading into next season, but we’ve seen little more than a couple firecrackers so far.
The team’s lack of free agent signings (Avery Bradley has been the only player inked to a new deal) would lead one to believe that the team still has some spots to fill in order to put together a complete roster for next year. There’s work still to be done, right?
One part of that statement is correct: Work still has to be done, but it’s not the kind of moves you might have expected. After using both first round draft picks in June and bringing aboard Marcus Thornton and Tyler Zeller in a three-team trade last week, Boston’s depth chart for next year is full. In fact, it’s a little bit too overstocked.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge currently has 17 players signed to his roster for next season for 15 possible slots. Let’s take a look at how the complete roster looks for the time being.
Point Guard: Rajon Rondo, Marcus Smart, Phil Pressey
Shooting Guard: Avery Bradley, Marcus Thornton, Keith Bogans*, Chris Johnson*
Small Forward: Jeff Green, Gerald Wallace, James Young, Chris Babb*
Power Forward: Jared Sullinger, Brandon Bass, Kelly Olynyk
Center: Tyler Zeller, Vitor Faverani, Joel Anthony
* Indicates contract is not guaranteed for next season.
The three players with non-guaranteed deals (Bogans, Babb, and Johnson) are competing for one final roster spot. We can use the term “competing loosely” for Bogans since he hasn’t been doing much of that since the Celtics sent him home for the season last December.
If Bogans had his wish, Boston would release him from his contract right now so he could find a new team this off-season. The shooting guard is not a part of Boston’s future plans here, so the veteran understandably wants out.
Unfortunately for Bogans, the Celtics may not have any plans to grant him his release by the start of next season. Bogans’ $5.3 million non-guaranteed salary for 2014-15 season makes him a very helpful trade chip to facilitate any deals. Bogans’ deal has no guarantee date, so the team that receives him could (and likely will) waive for the salary cap relief immediately after a trade.
If Celtics ownership is willing to pay for Bogans to sit on the sidelines (something they had no issue with last season) Ainge may hold onto Bogans through the early stages of next season if they can’t find a useful deal to use him in this summer. It’s a lousy situation for the 34-year-old journeyman, but he is being paid handsomely so C’s fans shouldn’t feel too bad for him.
Johnson and Babb’s future with the team are directly connected with Bogans. If the team does not move Bogans this summer, barring other moves, he would eat up the 15th and final roster spot on this team as it is currently constructed.
Babb would be a long shot to make the roster anyway (even if more roster spots were available), but the team likes Johnson and has him signed to a favorable deal over the next three seasons if they elect to keep him. He’s cheap talent, and that’s a good thing to have at the end of the roster.
There is also the issue of the team’s training camp invitees. Summer league standout Mike Moser has already been extended an invitation, and last year’s second round draft pick Colton Iverson may receive one as well. A player like Moser might not accept an invitation from Boston, however, if there isn’t a realistic chance for him to make the team’s roster.
In order for the team to create that possibility, Ainge must clear open a spot or two on the roster. Whether it is trading away a veteran like Bass or Green for some value, or dumping Bogans’ deal somewhere, space needs to be created.
This is not the kind of work Ainge was hoping to be doing at this stage of the off-season after targeting Kevin Love for weeks, but Celtics fans can still be hopeful a few more moves are on the horizon before the start of next season.
Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to NBA.com, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @CelticsHub.
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