Your Afternoon Dump... Where Jackie Mac's got dirt and we've got possibilities

Your Afternoon Dump... Where Jackie Mac's got dirt and we've got possibilities

Celtics

Your Afternoon Dump... Where Jackie Mac's got dirt and we've got possibilities

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Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.

“I’ve been told this by many people: He didn’t like living in Boston,” MacMullan said. “He just didn’t. By the end, he had issues with Brad (Stevens). By the end he had issues with Danny (Ainge). By the end he had issues with pretty much all of us.”

MassLive

Reports of a four-year, $100-plus million offer awaiting Horford, 33, away from Boston emerged in the wake of the decision. 

According to ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan, the offer from the Celtics was a four-year one that was “pretty healthy.”

“I think the Celtics made him a good offer. I can’t tell you what it was, but I do think that they did make him a four-year offer that was a pretty healthy one,” MacMullan told ESPN colleague Brian Windhorst on his Hoop Collective Podcast.

NBC Sports

Well, the big news–pretty much the only news–to break yesterday came from Jackie MacMullan’s appearance on the podcast hosted by LeBron’s mouthpiece.

Bits and pieces of it are worth unpacking.

First off, there’s the report that Kyrie didn’t like living in Boston. I get that. I would have a hard time living anywhere east of the Mississippi River. But at the same time, I’d be very curious to know what changed over the course of this past winter that caused living in Boston to become a deal breaker for a guy who openly committed to the Celtics in October.

Along with that, Jackie said that by the end of the season, Kyrie’s relationships had deteriorated with Stevens, Ainge, and “all of us” (which, I assumes, means the media).

Discounting Kyrie’s relationship with the media, which I don’t really care about one iota, and which Kyrie must know will stay the same regardless of where he plays, that leaves issues with Stevens and Ainge.

Frankly, every player on that team should’ve had issues with Stevens and Ainge by the end of the season. And they should’ve had issues with the rest of the team as well. This team woefully underachieved, and there’s a measure of blame that can be assigned to every party involved, from Ainge on down–and I don’t think Ainge or Stevens expect their players to be all smiles and delight after that turd of a season.

So that leaves us where, exactly? Irving is apparently ready to leave, but the Nets are apparently not overly enthusiastic about signing him, and who else is shopping around for a PG? The Lakers? Unlikely that Kyrie wants to rejoin LeBron. The Clippers? One gets the sense that the Kyrie is at least #3 on the Clippers’ wish list, after Kawhi and Horford.

I’ve said it before, and I’m sticking with it. I think that once June 30th hits, Kyrie’s going to find out that the team that wants him the most is the one he’s already playing for. And we’re not talking about ‘wanting him the most’ the way, say, Cleveland fans wanted LeBron to stay in 2010, or the way Lakers fans wanted Dwight Howard a couple years later.

What we’re talking about is the Celtics being ready to put a max contract on the table for Kyrie to sign on June 30th, with no team other than, perhaps, the Knicks, being willing to do so. The sense from every report I’ve seen is that no team is making Kyrie a priority.

Now, if Kyrie dislikes Boston and the Celtics organization so much that he’d rather sign with another team only after that team whiffs on its real free agent targets, there’s not much that the Celtics can do about that. There’s not much anybody can do about that. If Kyrie would rather be some other team’s second or third choice than Boston’s first, that says as much about who he is as AD’s weak-willed caving to Rich Paul’s maneuverings says about AD.

Now what about Horford? Well, that depends on what Horford wants. The earliest indications are that he’s got a better offer elsewhere, and that it’s more a question of money than title contention. That’s fair.

The position I find myself in is that, between the two, I think Horford is more likely to leave than Irving. I don’t think the door’s closed with Irving, but I believe it has with Al.

Thus, after the draft, heading into the final week before free agency starts, here are the Celtics’ possibilities, outlined.

  1. Re-sign Kyrie, negotiate a new deal with Al, and run everything back same as last year, except without Rozier.
    (Highly unlikely. I’m pretty sure Al’s gone, and Kyrie may well want out of Boston so badly that he’s willing to be some other team’s second choice)
  2. Re-sign Kyrie, lose Al
    (The Celtics would need a center at this point. Clearing the decks of all cap holds except those for Irving and the team’s draft picks would put them below the soft cap by about $7M. This, in turn, releases another $13M in cap exceptions, getting the team to $20M in cap space.)

    1. By freeing up another $5M or so in cap space, they can trade for Steven Adams without having to match salaries, or they can likely sign Nikola Vucevic outright
    2. Alternatively, can you name the starting centers for the last ten NBA champions? The center position has become much more of a commodity in the NBA these days. The Celtics could free up a significant amount of cap space, sign or trade for a center with part of it and hold the balance in reserve for other opportunities.
  3. Lose Kyrie, lose Al
    1. The Celtics could renounce everybody else, and with the departure of Baynes, they would have enough money to sign a “7-9 max player”, that is, a player that has been in the league 7-9 years, to a max contract. Among the players out there that qualify for a 7-9 max are Jimmy Butler and Klay Thompson.
      1. IMO, the team would be taking a huge risk signing Butler, who has given no indication that he’s capable of being a franchise cornerstone.
      2. I’m at least somewhat intrigued by the idea that the Celtics could offer a max contract to Klay Thompson and effectively red-shirt him for the 2019/20 season. Being able to mix and match Smart, Brown and Thompson in the backcourt seems like fun, and ACL tears have much better prognosis than, say, Achilles tears. Of course this assumes that GSW doesn’t want to max Klay and that Klay would like to head to Boston.
    2. The Celtics avoid clearing the decks and sign veteran players to generous one-and-one contracts with second year team options. This is the ‘Jonas Jerebko/Amir Johnson’ approach, wherein the team is able to secure quality players while maintaining a high degree of salary cap flexibility. These contracts are eminently tradeable because they do not come with guaranteed second years, they also make it easy for the team to clear space once summer roles around by electing not to exercise their option. At the same time, by paying an above market rate to the player, it compensates them for being, basically, poker chips. In this scenario, the team likely negotiates generous one-and-one deals with Marcus Morris and, *sigh* Terry Rozier, giving the team a measure of continuity and carrying over this year’s cap flexibility into the next year.

What scenario do I think is most likely?

That depends on Kyrie. I don’t have a good read on him–and I don’t think anybody else in the league really does either.

I’d say the two most likely outcomes are (2)(2) (re-sign Kyrie and get an upgrade from Baynes as the starting center) and (3)(2) (lose both guys and fill out the roster with deals that carry over the team’s cap flexibility to 2020.

I don’t like option (3)(2), because it’s basically what the Celtics did from 2014-2017, and it doesn’t just feel like taking a step backward, it is taking a step backward. But, if Kyrie is bent on leaving Boston, this is how the team makes the best of it.

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