2011/12 Payroll: $72.4 million 
2011/12 (Projected) NBA Salary Cap: $54 million
Roughly: $17.2 million over cap

Highlights: The Celtics have Rajon Rondo locked up through the 2014-15 season.  That’s fantastic.  They’ll only be paying him $46 million over that time.  That’s amazingly fantastic.  There’s a case to be made that Rondo’s contract is the most team-friendly deal in the entire league.

The Celtics also have impending cap flexibility.  After this season only three players will be under contract: Rondo, Paul Pierce, and Avery Bradley (on a rookie deal.)  As of right now, the team would head into the next offseason with under $30 million in committed salaries.  If they want to bring back Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen and add a couple pieces to try a last push with this core nucleus it’ll be easy.  If, say, the club determines it’s time to move on or Garnett and his rapidly decaying knees decide to retire, there will be enough cap space available to restock the shelves with fresh talent (even max contract level talent.)  This ability to stay the winning course or quickly rebuild with a proven stud is a unique luxury, not only in term of the other teams in the league now, but even when looked at in the context of the NBA’s history.
Lowlights:  They’re old.  The Boston Celtics are old.  Now, that’s not a huge problem in the short term because while they are old, guys like Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett are still pretty darn good.  The one way this could be viewed as a problem is they don’t have a lot locked up for the future.  The Celtics have avoided building through the draft the past few years, and could be left with a very bare cupboard as soon as 2012-13 – a season they currently have only 3 players under contract for (though, in fairness, they’d have loads of cap room to rebuild – but more on that in a bit.)

The one vet who may be a cap issue is Jermaine O’Neal, who more often than not has looked like a reanimated corpse in his post-Pacers days and is still due to earn about $6.2 million this season.  He’s not the dependable post depth this team really needs and is taking up the cash they could use to go find a viable option.

Even a bigger burden for this year’s Celtics is that the retirements of other old dudes – namely Shaquille O’Neal and Rasheed Wallace – are still counting against Boston’s cap this year.  Combined that’s an $8 million cap hit for guys who will play as many NBA minutes next year as I will.  It really puts a damper on Boston’s ability to go out and add pieces to help them make another immediate title run.  Thankfully for C’s fans both deals end after this season.

The Future: In the short term future, the Celtics could be set up perfectly.  If the lockout results in an extremely shortened season, no team would benefit more than Boston.  They’re core veterans don’t really need any tune-up time and the less wear they have on their legs the better position they’d be in for a (one last?) title run.  Add in the possibility of dumping Jermaine O’Neal’s contract via the rumored amnesty rule and picking up a better replacement, and the Celtics might just be the Eastern Conference favorites in 2012.

Long term, the team isn’t that bad off either despite their aging roster.  In Rondo, the team has a locked up All-Star caliber player in Rondo to bridge the gap between the current and future Celtics.  And once the members of the Boston’s Big Three begin to call it a career, the Celtics will have an abundance of cap space.  The lack of other young talent on the roster is a bit disconcerting, but not enough to really fret over.

With a favorable cap situation, don’t look for the Celtics to slip back to their late ‘90s irrelevance anytime soon.
Grade: A



  1. Celtics might just be able to

    Celtics might just be able to make a run at Dwight Howard, he’d be the perfect match for Rondo, they’d have Green as a stretch-4, and Pierce is still capable at the 3 spot. The best thing for their future is having Doc Rivers locked up for 5 years to guide the transition out of the Big 3 era.

  2. I forgot to mention I’m

    I forgot to mention I’m fairly certain they have a late lottery pick from a trade in next year’s draft, which might just get them the jackpot of a Beal to replace Allen or maybe Kidd-Gilchrist.

  3. they got the draft pick of

     they got the draft pick of the clippers or the timberwolves (the worse of those 2) (top 10 protected)…. so let’s say they got the clippers one (cause I just can’t see the t’wolves with a better record at teh end of the season)

    a 10 to 14 pick, if the clippers face major injuries (griffin or gordon) 

    or a 15 to 20 if the clippers keep on improving….

    I personaly think the celtics could pick between 12 and 15, drafting a really good player sliding from the top 10. And that is maybe their best asset to rebiuld the team with green and rondo.

  4. I wonder if Boston could get

    I wonder if Boston could get a decent FA in and maybe retain KG and Ray Allen beyond next season. If we consider that Marcus Camby took around $9 million a year from Portland for last year and this then surely KG would be worth about the same and maybe Ray Allen comes back for MLE or a bit less for another season or two. I’d assume that unless either KG or Ray Allen got an offer of maybe a guaranteed starting role on another genuine contender that they would probably decide to remain in Boston until the end of their careers, they don’t need to chase a title and money would not be an issue really to them although I could not imagine KG especially playing for veteran’s minimum.

    Also Boston still have to decide what to do with Jeff Green and have Glen Davis out of contract in 2012 so the decision about these two younger players could also effect their cap space going forward.

  5. the celtics are getting old

    they might need a dwight howard if they can afford him question is would doc rivers system be effective enough to do the job even with dwight on their team plus there’s a possibility of them getting doc rivers son austin rivers if he goes in the bottom 10 of the lottery picks for next year 2012-2013 season and thats a huge IF………………

  6. Yeah Dwight is a perfect fit with Rondo

    They will kill your free throw percentage, but you won’t care with all the easy baskets that Rondo gets Howard. Defensively they will fit real well too. They have to go at Howard hard and Doc was putting in work at the last All star game too, he was in Howards ear. He fits the C’s system perfectly.

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