BOSTON (CBS) — The Celtics took several steps to ensure they will have an extremely competitive training camp next season by agreeing to multiple deals on Saturday that should round out the bottom half of the team’s 2016-17 roster.
Restricted free agent Tyler Zeller came to terms with Boston on a two-year $16 million contract according to multiple reports. The second-year of the deal will be non-guaranteed for the big man, a very similar arrangement to the one Jonas Jerebko and Amir Johnson signed on for with the team last summer. Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald was first to report the terms of the arrangement.
Club president Danny Ainge also agreed to deals with a pair of Boston’s second round draft picks in Demetrius Jackson and Ben Bentil. Jackson will reportedly sign a guaranteed contract for at least the 2016-17 season according to Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe, while Bentil will settle for a partially guaranteed deal.
Saturday’s deals, including the one-year contract agreed to with 30-year-old swingman Gerald Green earlier Saturday will put Boston’s current roster count at 18 heading into training camp with only 15 roster spots available. Holland and Bentil’s contracts are not fully guaranteed, but it is evident some more moves will have to be made via trade or cuts to fully reshape the roster ahead of opening night.
While Jackson is likely to be kept on the team’s roster beyond training camp as a third string combo guard, Bentil will have to battle with fellow youngsters R.J. Hunter, James Young and Holland for one of the team’s final roster spots.
Zeller ‘s return is also somewhat surprising after he spent much of the past season stuck on the bench for Brad Stevens. The 26-year-old averaged just 6.2 points and three rebounds per game in 60 contests during 2015-16, but he was one of the best big men remaining on the free agency market. His signing provides Boston with valuable additional depth at the center spot as he combines with Al Horford, Amir Johnson, Jonas Jerebko, Kelly Olynyk and Jordan Mickey to form Boston’s frontline.
In addition to terrific depth, the Celtics have also maintained plenty of future salary cap and trade flexibility with Saturday’s short-term deals, giving Ainge plenty of room to maneuver his roster in the months ahead of training camp. First round pick Jaylen Brown remains unsigned at this point, as does No. 58 overall pick Abdel Nader.
Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to NBA.com, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @CelticsHub.