The NBA permits teams to begin the regular season with 15 players.
The Celtics are the only team with 16 players who have guaranteed 2016-17 salaries.
So, it’ll be an intriguing preseason in Boston, where the early battle lines are already being drawn.
Several league sources have indicated that second-year guard R.J. Hunter, third-year forward James Young, 27-year-old wing John Holland, and rookie forward Ben Bentil will compete for the last roster spot. Young and Hunter have guaranteed deals, Bentil has a partial guarantee, and Holland is nonguaranteed.
This probably comes down to Hunter (No. 28 pick in 2015) or Young (No. 17 pick in 2014). I’d be surprised if Boston keeps Holland or Bentil.
Hunter and Young, both shooting guards, have failed to make a dent in the NBA. Young has had more time, but he’s also nearly two years younger than Hunter. Both deserve patience the Celtics can’t afford to give due to their roster constraints.
Other teams should be monitoring this competition with the intent of scooping up the loser – maybe even trading for him to preempt the waiver wire and free agency.
The Celtics would have little leverage in a deal, and they know it. They went down this road last year and waived Perry Jones III, who was still on his guaranteed rookie-scale contract. Maybe the lesser of Hunter and Young will hold more value, but it still won’t be much.