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.
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.