If it looks too good to be true, it usually is. The rumors of a trade centered around Ray Allen for Antwan Jamison and Caron Butler: looks to be a terrific deal, that makes sense for both teams on the surface.
The C’s get two motivated veterans to upgrade their inconsistent offense and improve their Championship chances. Washington gets rid of 2 big contracts that allows them to start rebuilding after this season ends. A win-win right? Not quite, as multiple sources, including Danny Ainge have shot down the Yahoo Sports rumored report by Adrian Wojnarowski.
Fans of the C’s are thrilled about the prospect of the deal and Wizards bloggers I’ve read today have reacted favorably as well, for the potential cap space the move would provide. Now Danny Ainge has come out and denied any kind of talks with the Wizards involving said players, but let’s just speculate for a minute and say he was posturing with those remarks and actually is interested in the deal. Same for the Wizards executives.
Even if everyone was on board, I still don’t think it’s possible this deal would get done. What would be the hold up you ask? It’s quite simple really. Money.
I wrote about the C’s salaries at length back in November after the Rajon Rondo extension was signed, so instead of rehashing it all,I’ll quote myself here to give you an overview of the C’s salary situation for next year so I can explain my argument further.
The Celtics have over 63 million dollars committed in contracts for next year. Not a huge problem you say? Well what If I told you all that money was allotted to just six players. With this harsh reality in mind, let’s break down the numbers and see how it affects the C’s options going into next year.
First a look at the player salaries to see how the dollar figures break down. These come courtesy of Shamsports.com
Paul Pierce: 21.5 million (player option)
Kevin Garnett: 18.8 million
Rasheed Wallace: 6.3 million
Kendrick Perkins: 4.9 million
Glen Davis: 3 million
Rajon Rondo: 9.1 million*
Total salary committed: 63.6 million
The salary cap situation for next year. Based on a report from ESPN.com back in July, here are the numbers the league is projecting the salary cap and luxury tax to be at for next year’s season.
Salary Cap: Somewhere between 50.4-53.6 million
Luxury Tax: Somewhere between 61.2-65 million
Those projections would be a sharp dropoff from this year’s cap and tax numbers of 57.7 and 69.9 million respectively. The Celtics total salary for this year is 84.5 million (5th highest in the league) at last count. This means Wyc Grousbeck and company are anteing up close to 100 million dollars in players salaries, once you include the luxury tax dollar for dollar penalty. Thanks guys!
Fast forward to this trade rumor now. What would happen if the C’s would trade for Jamison and Butler? It might make a lot of sense for this year, but if The C’s take on both of their contracts, that is an additional 24 million dollars of salary for next year for just 2 players.
It doesn’t take a math major to put together the problem from there. Add that 24 million dollars to the 63 million the C’s would have already have committed and that would mean The Celtics would have 87 million dollars on payroll committed to just 8 guys for 2010-11. Grant it, it would be a quality 8 players, but that’s still a lot of dough tied up for a little more than half a roster.
So, let’s cut to the chase here. 87 million dollars is just too much for this team (or likely any team) in this economy. Say the luxury tax goes down to 65 million dollars, a conservative estimate based on earlier reports this season. An 87 million dollar payroll would mean a 22 million dollar luxury tax bill on top of all the salaries which means Wyc Grousbeck and company would be anteing up 109 million dollars a year for their roster. That’s a bigger bill than any team in the NBA is paying this year.
Now, don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying Wyc Grousbeck and company are cheap. They are anything, but that, having the 5th highest payroll in the league this year at 84.7 million. Can we as fans though expect them to take on 5-10 extra million dollars in salary next year, in this economy, with the luxury tax going down as it is? The Celtics aren’t hurting financially by all accounts, but they aren’t the Yankees either. Expecting ownership to pay that much money next year to those 8 guys, along with an additional 5-10 million dollars at minimum that would be needed to fill out the rest of 15 man roster is just ridiculous. In this climate, it’s simply not economically sustainable.
A counter point to all this might be, well the Celtics can do some wheeling and dealing after this season ends to solve the payroll problem. Win now with Jamison and Butler and deal with lowering the payroll after the season is over. That makes sense on the surface. But who do you get rid of from that roster next year? Outside of KG, Pierce, and Jamison everyone else on that roster will be getting paid reasonable money next year. KG and Jamison would be very tough to deal and we all know Paul Pierce is not going anywhere. There are no easy solutions there.
So, based on all this, I believe Danny when he says he hasn’t talked to the Wiz about the proposed Ray Allen deal, for a very simple reason. Ownership can’t afford it to spend that much money on payroll. Now if Wyc and company want to dig extremely deep into their pockets, they can make it happen. And if they do, I’d be all for it, don’t get me wrong. It’s unreasonable for us Celtics fans though to expect that to happen.
For now, shake off this dream deal and look for Ainge to make a smaller scale team to help breath some life into this team right now.