Washington Wizards v Boston Celtics

Celtics extend Avery Bradley a qualifying offer, making him a restricted free agent


The Celtics’ backcourt is getting crowded.

Rajon Rondo is the team’s unquestioned top player, and Boston just used its two first-round picks on guards Marcus Smart and James Young. Plus, Avery Bradley is just 23 and, when healthy, has started the last two seasons.

If one of those players is expendable, it’s Bradley.

He’s an effective defender who can play either backcourt spot. But his 6-foot-2 frame suits him to play point guard, and he unfortunately lacks the ball-handling and passing skills necessary to play that position full time. There’s definitely a role for a player like him, especially give his streaky shooting has trended positive lately, but he’s also the type who could get squeezed out.

All that said, he’s an asset, and the Celtics probably won’t let him walk for nothing. Up for a $3,581,302 qualifying offer – a one-year contract offer he gets in exchange for Boston gaining the right to match any contract offer he receives – Bradley is worth making a restricted free agent.

Team release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they have extended a qualifying offer to guard Avery Bradley.

If they waive Keith Bogans, Phil Pressey, Chris Johnson and Chris Babb – all of whom have unguaranteed salaries – the Celtics would fall $6,894,186 below the projected salary cap. They could either use that cap space to sign free agents or use the non-taxpayer mid-level exception ($5,305,000) and bi-annual exception ($2,077,000). The space or exception routes are mutually exclusive, so Boston could decide which to travel depending on how it wants to structure deals.

However, had the Celtics not granted the qualifying offer – or pull it later while renouncing Bradley – they could offer $12,665,430 to free agents. That’s not quite max contract territory, but it’s close. That would mean losing Bradley’s restricted status, i.e. the right to match any offer he receives. But it would certainly put the Celtics in contention for a higher-class of free agents.

It’s not too late for Boston to pull the offer and make a bigger free agent splash, as long as Bradley doesn’t accept the qualifying offer first. I’d think he’d hunt for more long-term security before snatching up the one-year, $3,581,302 offer that must remain on the table.

So, the Celtics haven’t fully closed any doors. They’re just in the process of shutting one with Bradley remaining on the inside.

Kevin Love unsure about opening-night return

Kevin Love
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He’s back in practice with the Cavaliers, but there’s still no clarity on whether Kevin Love will be available for the season opener. Love had shoulder surgery in April after suffering a torn labrum in Game 4 of the Cavs’ first-round series against the Celtics, and doctors initially gave him a timetable of four to six months for a return. The six-month end of that is right around opening night (October 27), but Love still doesn’t know whether he’ll be able to play against the Bulls—although he is hopeful.

Via the Sporting News‘ Sean Deveney:

“I feel pretty good,” Love told Sporting News. “As far as the opener goes, I am not completely sure. I’ll probably get with the doctors and see what they have to say. I know that my six-month post-op is coming up here pretty fast. As far as getting the strength back, getting the range of motion, I feel pretty good, so I am looking forward to getting into some more contact, getting into a rhythm and getting out there as quickly as I can.”

Love has been cleared for 3-on-3 practices, but not yet for 5-on-5. If it were up to him, he’d be back on the court, but he understands he needs to follow the rehab protocol for his injury.

“(Six months is) just a ballpark figure that has generally been thrown out there by anybody who has talked about the rehab process for this kind of an injury,” Love said. “I like to think that I am ahead of the game, but there’s different tests and the due diligence that the doctor will go through and the training staff will go through. So all I can do is go out there every day and attack my rehab and hopefully I will be able to go out there and help these guys as soon as possible.”

At the very least, the Cavs will be without Kyrie Irving (still recovering from knee surgery) and Iman Shumpert (out up to three months with a wrist injury), and probably Tristan Thompson too, unless his contract situation changes unexpectedly. So having Love available would be some much-needed good news. But it’s more important that Love (and everyone else) is healthy for the playoffs. If he’s not ready to play, there’s no need to rush back for an October game.

Greg Smith fails physical, will not join Pelicans

Greg Smith
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With both starter Omer Asik and backup Alexis Ajinca out injured for the rest of the preseason (and maybe a little longer), the Pelicans are looking for a center to put next to Anthony Davis for a stretch. That could include a handful of regular season games.

Greg Smith was going to be that man, but the 24-year-old failed his physical, reports the Times-Picayune.

The New Orleans Pelicans were set to sign power forward Greg Smith, but sources said Friday night that he failed his physical examination and will not be joining the team.

And so the search goes on.

The problem is, there are not quality big men still out there on the market, there is a limited supply and just about anyone worth having is spoken for. A few with non-guaranteed contracts may be waived as we get closer to the end of training camps, but that is likely a couple of weeks away.

With both Asik and Ajinca expected back in a few weeks, it’s not worth making a trade or some big move to bring in a center, the Pelicans are just going to have to live with what is out there.