State of the Cap: Boston Celtics

Sat, 08/16/2008 - 3:07pm

By Josh Redetzke

2008/09 Boston Celtics Payroll: $78 million
2008/09 Estimated NBA Salary Cap: $58 million
Roughly: $20 million over cap

The Good:

Kevin Garnett
The road to the championship began when the Celtics opened the floodgates and sent half their team to Minnesota for Kevin Garnett. It was tough to lose the young and very talented Al Jefferson, but no one player is worth more than a title, or multiple players for that matter.

KG brought the fire that engulfed every teammate and created an inferno of hustle, defense, and desire that led to another Boston victory parade. That alone makes him worth the $24.7 million he'll receive next season and the $56.4 million he gets during his three year contract extension. Yes, his numbers were down, but everyone knows that it was due to the other two superstars he shared the court with.

KG also played just 32 minutes per game, his lowest average since his rookie year, partly to keep him fresh and partly because of the number of blowouts the Celtics were involved in. After watching Garnett's crazy, incoherent post-title speech, you could tell that this was a player you'd want on your team at any price.

If there was one player besides the trio of stars that was most responsible for Boston's success, it had to be Rajon Rondo. The team wouldn't have gone anywhere without a competent point guard and Rondo filled that role very well. He averaged a modest 10.6 points and 4.2 rebounds and he led the team with 5.1 assists and 1.7 steals per game.

Rondo was also very efficient on the offensive end, hitting 49% of his shots and keeping the ball moving to the right individuals. His 21 points, 8 assists, and 6 steals in the final game was a fitting end to a phenomenal season. Rondo is still under his rookie contract for two more years, which means the Celtics are getting excellent value.

Kendrick Perkins rounded out the starting five and he put up very good stats for the price. Perkins is owed just over $4 million a year each of the next three seasons. He more than makes up for his salary by averaging 7 points a game on stellar 61.5% shooting. He was also second on the team in rebounding with 6.1 per game and he led the Celtics in blocked shots. $4 million for an effective starter like Perkins is a pretty good deal.

The Bad:

Of the three major stars in Boston's line-up, I would pick Ray Allen as the most overpaid. There wasn't anything terribly wrong with the sweet shooting Allen this year. His scoring average was down to 17.4, but that was mostly expected. He still shot very well from the three point line and free throw line. So, what was the problem? Allen will make $17.3 million next year and $18.7 million the year after.

That is simply too much for a player that is, for the most part, just a shooter. A great shooter, to be sure, but still just a shooter and only the third best player on the team. He gets a few rebounds here, a few assists there, but he wouldn't be considered strong in either area and he has been a defensive liability at times. Consider this; Allen makes roughly the same salary as Paul Pierce, yet Pierce is a much better rebounder, passer, defender, and actually shot the same percentage from the three point line. You could make a case that Pierce is simply underpaid, which is valid, but in the end, Allen just makes a little too much for what he contributes on the court.

When it comes to being overpaid, Brian Scalabrine has cornered the market on this team. He was, statistically, the worst Celtic player this season. Unfortunately, he will be the fifth highest paid next season at $3.2 million (with another $3.4 million coming the following year). It's a small price to pay, but one that could be spent on much better role players.

The Future:
In the summer of 2006, Paul Pierce signed a three-year, $59 million contract extension with a team that was downright terrible. His tremendous loyalty was rewarded one year later when KG and Ray Allen were placed by his side. No longer having to carry the load himself, Pierce thrived with the new Celtics. He was a warrior in the playoffs, doing anything and everything to lift his team from one round to the next. Little did Pierce know that when he signed the extension two years ago, he would start it as a defending champ. What a difference a year can make.

Boston did lose James Posey to free agency, but they retained a few of their most important role players. Leon Powe will make just under $800,000 next season even though he is the team’s fifth best scorer. He plays hard around the basket and he is capable of adding high energy as a reserve.

Eddie House re-signed for $2.6 and $2.8 million the next two years. House isn’t a versatile player, but he sure can hit the threes and he adds veteran experience. The Celtics could use a few more quality bodies to bring off the bench. It should be pretty easy to convince players in the Sam Cassell and P.J. Brown mold to hop on board, especially with the gleam from their latest championship trophy.

Free Throw:
Patrick O’Bryant didn’t do anything in his time with the Golden State Warriors. Since he was selected ninth overall in the 2006 draft, he is considered a huge bust and the Warriors did not renew his contract. So why did the Celtics give him a two-year deal for $1.5 and $1.6 million? Because the Warriors gave up on O’Bryant too early and that small amount of money was worth the risk. O’Bryant is a seven footer that is just 22 years old and while he has a ways to go before becoming a competent NBA center, there is still a chance he could pan out. Boston risks nothing and it could be a gamble that pays off down the road.

Grade: A

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