The LA Lakers are one of the worst teams in the league. At 15-28, they are just three games better than league-worst Orlando and Atlanta, which puts them squarely in mix for getting a pick that lands somewhere between two and five in the June draft.
We all know Ainge was given the Lakers pick if it falls into that zone for the right to drop to third and draft Jayson Tatum in the last draft. If that conveys, the Celtics could have another game-changer on a rookie deal to go along with the three established and two emerging stars they already have.
That’s awesome! Except, as I wrote on Boston.com today, it could cost us Marcus Smart.
Next year’s salary cap is projected to be $101 million with a luxury tax line at $121 million. Between the big salaries of Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving, and Al Horford, and the already guaranteed contracts of Marcus Morris, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Terry Rozier, and Guerschon Yabusele, the Celtics will go into next season $3 million over the cap with up to seven spots to fill.
If the Celtics are trying to avoid paying a tax next year so they can extend the “repeat offender” window by one year, they will only $17 million left to spend.
This is where the Lakers pick could mess with Marcus.
Between the automatically slotted salaries for a Lakers pick and the Celtics own selection and picking up the non-guaranteed deals of Semi Ojeleye and Daniel Theis, the money for Smart dries out very quickly.
Of course it doesn’t mean they HAVE to lose Smart if they get the Lakers pick. There are scenarios where it works out… barely.
You can read the full scenario on Boston.com. Either way the money is getting tight, and it could mean a key piece to this Celtics team is priced out of town.