With another NBA Draft in the books, the next order of business in the NBA offseason is free agency. Teams can officially begin negotiating with free agents tomorrow afternoon, and while deals can be agreed to in this period, they can’t be finalized until this Friday. And while free agency is always an exciting period, the Boston Celtics are in a bit of an unusual position this offseason.
Other teams may just be getting their offseason plans together, but not Boston. The Celtics offseason was underway the day after their season ending loss to the Brooklyn Nets, with Danny Ainge resigning and Brad Stevens taking his spot. Since then, we have seen Kemba Walker and Tristan Thompson go out the door, and welcomed Al Horford, Kris Dunn, and Josh Richardson into the fold.
Not to mention, the C’s have a new head coach in Ime Udoka as well, a subtle move that has often been overlooked amidst the madness we have witnessed so far. To say this Celtics team will look quite different next season is certainly an understatement at this point.
Despite all the moves made so far, Boston’s presence on the free agent market is probably going to be quite limited. They don’t have a ton of cap space heading into free agency, even after unloading some big salaries in the form of Walker and Thompson. Much of the work has come through the trade market so far, and it will probably stay that way for the rest of the offseason.
A closer look at the Celtics roster may give an indication to what Stevens and the C’s front office are working on doing however. They may not be big players in this free agency, but that doesn’t mean that will be the case next offseason. While the recent flurry of moves have relieved Boston’s cap issues this offseason to an extent, they have actually done more to create more cap space for themselves next offseason.
The Boston Celtics appear to be loading up to sign a star next offseason
Let’s face it; the Celtics aren’t in the best position to turn this underperforming team into a championship contender in just one offseason. Their cap situation is quite messy, and their once bountiful amount of draft picks has been reduced to almost nothing. Any hopes that Boston would somehow find a way to lure in another star to pair up with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown this offseason was wishful thinking.
Stevens and the Celtics front office are obviously aware of this, and rather than try to force the issue, they appear to be readjusting the salary cap to set themselves up for free agency next offseason. They are still dealing with the after effects of Walker and Thompson’s deals, which makes it tough to do much this offseason. But next offseason, that won’t be an issue.
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While this is subject to change, Boston only has three players on guaranteed deals for the 2022-23 season; Tatum, Brown, and Horford. While they obviously have big deals, that gives Boston a lot of wiggle room they don’t have this offseason to do some damage in free agency. Making things even better is the fact that Horford’s salary is only partially guaranteed after this season, opening even more cap space for Boston.
Side Note: Even though Stevens appears to be creating as much cap room as possible for next season, it’s not as if this team is going to be awful this upcoming season. He’s already gone out and fixed Boston’s lack of guard depth by acquiring Dunn and Richardson, and this team still has a ton of talent behind Tatum and Brown in the form of Marcus Smart, Rob Williams, and Horford.
As a result of the lack of players under contract, the Boston Celtics should be able to have enough space to put together a potential supermax offer for one of the top free agents next offseason. While things can obviously change, there is the potential for the next free agent class to be loaded with stars, so it makes sense that Stevens would want to start saving up to make a run at a third star to partner with Tatum and Brown.
The one name that just can’t seem to shake Celtics rumors is Bradley Beal, and he could be a free agent next offseason. Beal was reportedly contemplating requesting a trade away from the Washington Wizards, and while he seems to have decided to stick around for the next season, there’s a good chance he could be available for the taking in free agency next offseason.
If that were to be the case, Boston would seemingly have the inside track at landing Beal. Had he requested a trade, the Celtics were reportedly at the top of his list of potential new teams. Not to mention his well documented friendship with Tatum would allow the C’s to come up with a killer sales pitch that would probably be enough to land him.
All of this is purely speculation, as the C’s could just as easily blow the lid off this and make a huge move tomorrow when free agency opens. But they may be better set waiting until next offseason to make their move and set up the next Big Three for the Boston Celtics. It appears things are trending that way after Brad Stevens latest moves, and it may be Boston’s best chance at building a title contender with Tatum and Brown at the center.