BOSTON (CBS) – In the dog days of the NBA calendar, Danny Ainge isn’t quite done with his offseason checklist yet, despite what was a relatively quiet offseason for his Boston Celtics on the transaction front.
Over the past few months the team added a couple pieces in the NBA draft in Marcus Smart and James Young. Tyler Zeller and Marcus Thornton were acquired via a sizable trade exception left over from the Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett blockbuster deal last summer. Avery Bradley was re-signed for four years, while veterans such as Kris Humphries and Jerryd Bayless were let go in free agency.
A buy-low piece in Evan Turner agreed to terms with the team, as Danny Ainge found a candidate to potentially become this year’s version of Jordan Crawford, a guy that can be traded away for future assets after re-establishing some value during the season.
Despite all of these minor moves this offseason, Boston still has an interesting issue to resolve in the coming months: they don’t appear to know what to do with veteran guard Keith Bogans.
You remember Bogans right? He was brought aboard last summer as part of the Brooklyn trade in order to make the salary math work on both sides of the deal. One can argue he was the luckiest player in the league last season, as the Celtics paid him just over $5 million as part of a sign-and-trade agreement to sit on the end of the bench for Brad Stevens and serve as a veteran mentor on the young roster.
If Bogans had been on the open market, he would have earned no more than the veteran’s minimum with any other team that wanted him. Instead, he was getting four times that amount to play in Boston.
To the veteran’s credit, Bogans is a competitive guy and despite his high salary he wasn’t happy just collecting a paycheck as a bench warmer on a bad team. He wanted to play and he let his coach know about it.
Ainge sent him home in December after this situation arose, knowing full well the team was not going to waste time giving him minutes when he wasn’t in the team’s long-term plans. Better to get rid of the distraction altogether Ainge probably thought.
Even though Ainge sent Bogans away from the team, he was still kept on the roster for one distinct reason: the former Kentucky star was signed to a three-year deal last summer, but the final two years on the deal were fully non-guaranteed. Thanks to those terms, starting on July 1st (the start of the NBA calendar) Bogans became a $5.3 million trade chip for Boston.
In essence, Bogans could be used in any deal as salary filler/relief, allowing any potential new team to waive him at no cost to their salary cap once Boston traded him away.
This provision in Bogans’ deal led many to believe that the shooting guard would be shipped out of town during the summer of 2014, but here we are in August and no move has been made. To further complicate matters, the Celtics have quite the logjam going on with their roster right now. The team has yet to officially sign Turner since they have 20 players under contract right now, the maximum for a team entering training camp.
Someone has to go to make the numbers work, and it’s all but a certainty the team won’t be able to afford having Bogans take up a spot on the 15-man roster once the season begins. Ownership isn’t going to pay him $5.3 million this year when they don’t have to.
With training camp approaching in the next few weeks, something has to give. The team could take care of the problem right away by flat out cutting Bogans, but then they lose the possibility they could use Bogans non-guaranteed money in a trade.
The wiser bet is that the team holds onto the guard for a little while longer, hoping they can find some kind of deal during the NBA preseason that allows them to gain at least a trade exception. He could also be packaged with another veteran as part of a larger deal.
Either way, it’s a situation worth watching over the next few weeks, as Bogans will likely be the next domino to fall in a quiet Celtics offseason.
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