By Brian Robb, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — It’s no secret the Boston Celtics have their sights set on making a major addition to the roster this offseason and the odds of them doing so got a bit of a boost on Thursday afternoon when the league announced the All-NBA teams for the 2016-17 season.
The Celtics got some good news on the home front when Isaiah Thomas was elected to the All-NBA second-team, but that development is not relevant to the team’s potential summer plans for now. Instead, thanks to a new provision in the revamped collective bargaining agreement, the selections on the All-NBA teams have a direct impact on the earning potential of some homegrown talent in free agency.
Essentially, in a move to encourage elite talent to remain with the team they were drafted by, the NBA is allowing teams to offer certain players a “super max” contract, which is equivalent to 35 percent of the salary cap at the conclusion of their second contract. Normally, teams wouldn’t only be able to offer 30 percent of the salary cap to players coming off their second NBA contract.
In order to qualify for the super max offer, a player and team must follow these requirements:
1. Player X must be must have been named to an All-NBA team in the previous season before hitting free agency or two of the previous three, or either be an MVP or Defensive Player of the Year in any of the previous three seasons.
2. Player X is acquired by the team offering the super max contract via the NBA Draft or via trade during his rookie contract.
That second provision is important, particularly when it comes to players like Isaiah Thomas. Since the Celtics acquired him from the Phoenix Suns (who had signed him to a non-rookie contract in 2013), he is not eligible for the super max, even if he makes the All-NBA team again before hitting free agency next season.
Two players that the Celtics have been linked to in trades and free agency were directly impacted by Thursday’s vote being announced. Let’s take a look at how results could help or hurt the C’s pursuit of that duo.
Gordon Hayward — The former Butler star fell just short of a spot on the All-NBA third-team, so the Utah Jazz won’t be able to offer him the super max that could have been worth up to five years and $207 million this summer. Instead, they’ll be limited to 30 percent of the salary cap, just like his free agent suitors, with the added carrot of offering a fifth year (the Celtics and other suitors can only offer four). Essentially, with the super max off the table, Hayward has a lot less to lose financially by leaving town, giving the C’s and other suitors a more realistic chance of recruiting the swingman. Hayward has a player option for the 2017-18 season, but he’s highly expected to opt out and hit the open market this summer.
Paul George- Like Hayward, George also fell short in the All-NBA voting, but he still has a year remaining on his current deal with the Indiana Pacers. If George had been selected to the third team, he would have become eligible for a “Designed Player Extension” a provision that would have allowed Indiana to offer him a super max extension this summer. That hypothetical deal could have eliminated the need for the Pacers to consider trading George away, if he was content to lock in an extra five years and $200 million to his deal.
There is still a chance George will become eligible for the same super max deal next year with Indiana (if he makes an All-NBA team during the 2017-18 season), but that’s a pretty big gamble to make for a small market team that would also risk watching their franchise player walk away for nothing. As is, the Pacers probably have a little more incentive now to make a move with George this summer and that could bode well for the Celtics if Danny Ainge still has his sights set on the dynamic 6-foot-9 forward.
Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to NBA.com, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @CelticsHub.