COMMENTARY | The Boston Celtics have a lot of needs this offseason, yet they fall under a precarious salary cap situation which could allow very little activity in free agency. Regardless of whether Paul Pierce gets amnestied, or Kevin Garnett retires, or Brandon Bass and Courtney Lee get dealt in sign-and-trades, a great deal of work needs to be done.
President of basketball operations Danny Ainge already has a short stack to deal with, so to speak. An injured floor veteran in Rajon Rondo doesn't help (ACL), nor does soon-to-be second-year big man Jared Sullinger and his back issues. Nobody in Celtics Nation expects peaches and cream this October.
But a couple things can certainly help Boston's chances next season, even if Pierce and Garnett become dearly departed members of the Garden. No rebuilding stage can truly take place without a few hurt feelings. Jason Terry will unfortunately be one of those hurt.
Of course, with the newest edition of the NBA's collective bargaining agreement, it won't be easy to cut the 11-year veteran. Since the "Jet" remains under contract with Boston for another two years, Ainge and the Celtics will have the ability to waive and basically "stretch out" his contract to five years. That way, the organization owes him no more than $2,135,000 a season, and reaps the rewards of cheaper cap hits in the process.
Terry, who was initially brought on as a veteran presence and (pretty obviously) an offensive replacement for Ray Allen, largely struggled throughout the 2012-13 season. In just about 27 minutes a game, he capped out at an average of 10 points and 2.5 assists. He never found a real rhythm among coach Doc Rivers' system, and failed to emerge until sporadic playoff moments during the Celtics' opening round elimination against the New York Knicks.
He will never be what Ainge wanted him to be. He can't create off the dribble like he did during the Dallas Mavericks' championship run in 2011. He can't free himself up away from the ball like Ray Allen did during the better parts of Boston's Garnett era. And he lacks the ability to back up Rondo at the point, never mind serve as his temporary replacement until the lead man's knee problems subside.
If Ainge can find a way to waive Terry, he should absolutely pull the trigger. It would shore up more room for additions at disparaging spots like backup point guard and big man, and also expand the potential for long-term acquisitions.
Boston still stands to benefit from the 2013 NBA Draft, where they pick at No. 16. Louisville center Gorgui Dieng seems to be a great fit for the Celtics, as does Gonzaga big man Kelly Olynyk and Duke bruiser Mason Plumlee. Even if Ainge needs to package a couple of bench standouts over the summer, voids can be filled.
Extra cap space, meanwhile, could pay huge dividends in the short and long-term future for the Green. Should Pierce get his contract bought out, and KG retire, Utah Jazz power forward Paul Millsap would clearly be a primary target at power forward. Another big draw would be the Minnesota Timberwolves' Nikola Pekovic at center, who struggles defensively but demands respect with his interior presence. Similar options obviously exist with sign-and-trades.
Ainge could also take the cap space and pick up mid-level exception deals like center Chris Kaman, shooting guard Kyle Korver or point guard Devin Harris. Each of these players would befit the Celtics' gaps. Boston finished in the basement of the NBA in rebounding this season, struggled at the middle of the pack in three-point shooting and had abysmal assist-to-turnover ratios in close games.
Unless Ainge decides to waive players like Terry, and maybe even Brandon Bass, in essence stretching their contracts to clear up inevitable cap space, the Celtics will be in a very difficult spot going forward.
If Boston fans expect the Celtics to continue competing, they must unfortunately realize the sad reality that management must cut loose ends.
It may look ugly at first. But as of next summer, everyone will understand that waiving players like Terry equals up to making the best possible business decisions.
Sloan Piva has lived in southern New England for 28 years and covers the Boston Celtics. He has been published in multiple websites and has contributed for various award-winning publications in his 10-year journalistic career.
- Sports & Recreation
- Boston Celtics
- Danny Ainge
- Kevin Garnett
- Paul Pierce
- Brandon Bass
- Jason Terry