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What The New Cap Number Means For Boston

The league’s salary cap has been set at $58,044,000, a tick higher than last season and about $2 million more than the league’s optimistic projections. The luxury tax line is set at $70,307,000. If a team’s payroll goes over that figure, it pays a dollar-for-dollar tax on the amount by which its payroll exceeds the tax line. Projections had the tax line coming about $5 million lower. 

Your natural question is: What does this mean for the Celtics? Answer: Basically nothing. What it means most of all is that the C’s have a chance to cut their luxury bill significantly, and that’s a good thing if you care about the financial health of the franchise. But it does NOT change the fact that Boston has no cap room and won’t get any, barring some drastic choices. 

We know for sure the following seven players will be on Boston’s cap next season: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins, Glen Davis, Avery Bradley, Semih Erden. The combined salary for those seven players:


*This assumes a round number of $15 million for Pierce.

So we’re already approaching the cap.

In reality, though, Boston is actually well over the cap level because the league counts a team’s outgoing free agents against its cap number until the team either signs the free agent or renounces its rights to that free agent. These artificial charges on the team’s cap number are known as “cap holds.” 

Ray Allen’s cap hold, for instance, is nearly $20 million, which gets added onto that $51.9 million figure above. That figure stays on Boston’s cap until they re-sign Allen or renounce his Bird Rights, meaning they would not be allowed to go over the cap to re-sign him. Boston is not going to do that second thing.

Repeat: Boston is over the cap right now.

Let’s go forward assuming a couple of things:

1) Rasheed Wallace retires and negotiates a buyout that costs Boston $2 million this season. 

Now we’re up to: 53,954,929

2) Boston re-signs Ray Allen for a deal that pays him $9 million in 2011. That takes us to:


Good-bye salary cap. But the C’s still have about $7.3 million of wiggle room before they hit the luxury tax line. Unfortunately, they’ve only signed eight players so far, and the league requires they carry 13. 

The mid-level exception is now set at $5,765,000. Let’s be optimistic and say the C’s use the full mid-level on two players, bringing our total roster to 10 guys. 

That brings us to:


Uh oh. We’re getting close. Better sign Luke Harangody to the league minimum of $473,604, which brings us to 11 players and a total salary of $69,193,533. 

Let’s finally assume Boston fills out the roster with two guys who come for the veteran’s minimum—one young guy (we’ll peg his salary at the 4th-year level of $915,852) and one 10-year vet ($1,352,181). 

Grand total for all 13 guys: 


That gives Boston a total tax bill of about $1.5 million. Not bad, especially considering the owners broke the bank last season and the 2011 bill could easily have been as high as $6-$10 million with the expected tax line.

My projection will likely end up being a bit optimistic—the team may end up paying Ray Allen or Sheed more, and they may elect to use Bird Rights on one of their pending free agents (Tony Allen? Nate Robinson?) instead of signing a minimum salary player. 

Bottom line: It’s basically inevitable Boston will be a taxpayer again this year. We should appreciate the ownership team’s willingness to spend. Not every fan base is so fortunate.

  • Perry

    Ray just agreed to a 2 year $10m contract…3rd year player option.

    About what we figured it would be.

  • Rich

    I can’t believe Ray took a deal that low. Is it 5 mil a year? Seriously? When Amir Johnson gets 7? I can’t believe another team didn’t offer him twice as much.

  • Doug

    Allen and Celts have agreed on two-year deal worth $10 million annually that includes player option in Year 2. ESPN.com link coming


  • Rich

    NM…10 mil a year. All makes sense now.

  • Rich

    Well tbh…since you weren’t getting cap space until KG comes off the books anyway, better move to give him a bigger contract but less years.

  • sacbobv

    Way happy that Ray resigned! Now let’s get the rest of our ducks in a row.

  • MP

    10 million doesn’t matter…the 2 years does. This is actually.

  • MP

    And by actually i meant excellent.

  • shane

    yeah ! im glad we resigned him ! but now lets try to use half of the MLE on jermaine O’Neil and then go after a SG or SF who can give ray and pierce aa brake with the other hald od the MLE. then sign t mac and luke harangody and keep oliver layfette .

  • Perry

    sorry, year 2 was the option

    …good deal!

  • Zain

    Ray is back! I’m thrilled for next season..now to finish off the roster with MLE/vet’s min signings.

  • James Patrick

    maybe shaq will suck it up and play for the vet’s min. we were one big away from title #18

  • Perry

    Now Woj@yahoosports is reporting J O’Neal leaning towards Boston with a decision coming soon.

  • I love Green

    @Zain- Don’t forget about the Kobe Stopper!! We still need to lockup TA.

  • Tristan

    Now that RA has signed, they should go after J O’Neal and A Morrow (split the MLE maybe 60/40 between them)

    Sign TA on Bird Rights
    Sign Harangody and Layfette to Min

    That should be a good team, we would have three players around the 7foot mark in O’Neal, Erden & Perk. Morrow and TA can replace RA and PP, the rest fall into place…

    I would love to see Nate back but I dont think he is required if they go for Morrow and have Bradley running point.

  • Zain

    I dunno about you all but I’m already feeling a Celtics / Lakers rematch (PROVIDED EVERYONE IS HEALTHY..for both teams)

  • Rich

    Zain..so long as LeBron doesn’t join the Bulls. YOu’re right (coming from a Cleveland fan here).

    Right now, I’ve totally given up hope on a title next year…I just want LeBron to stay at this point. SO freaking paranoid.

    Celtics win the title next year if they can get one big man to hold up throughout the season.

  • I love Green

    @Rich- Yeah Lebron to Bulls would be mean. Not much of a bench, but they’ll be able to sign a few good role players if they can get rid of Deng’s contract.

    SG-Who cares

  • Sophomore

    Good points, Zach, and reasonable. I tip my cap to Wyc for having the vision to spend in order to earn.

    I’ll still hope in my greedy green heart that they’re willing to do even more if the opportunity presents itself – using Wallace’s expiring deal to grab another rotation guy if another team is willing.

  • Coolin

    The Celtics still need T-Mac if they are going to get back to the championship. He will play defense for this team and all we need out of him is about 20 minutes per game and a few baskets.
    The Owners are rich so they should chance it by spending a little more. It will payoff in the end.

  • Tristan

    Coolin – I cant see TMac helping enough, plus he wont split a MLE with anyone, he will want it all himself…plus then (if J O’Neal signs) they would be a team of dodgy knees (Garnett, Perk, TMac & O’Neal)

    Better to go a young role player for cheaper…like they tried with Daniels, but his thumb injury killed his season/career

  • Berkcelt

    @Zach, just a detail nothing too important but if I’m reading #11 right in Larry Coon’s FAQ, those minimum salaries will actually be a little less because the league reimburses part of the salaries on vet-minimum 1 yr deals.


    …actually I just did a rough count and I think they’d be about $740,000 under your projection so about $750,000 in the tax which sounds like a lot of incentive to get under to me depending on how many luxury tax payers there are this year (probably less than in years past).

    Anyway, after all that, my conclusion is it’s moot because I think if they’re going to pay Pierce and Ray that means they’re going for it. So I expect to maybe see Tony back and them to parlay Sheed’s contract into a player (with a salary). The only other way is going to be giving up draft picks for a guy like Fernandez (ie someone with talent on a small deal).

  • K.J. Lee

    ‘Grand total for all 13 guys:


    Our budget for last season was $85 million. I expect the figure for this season to be about the same.

    So, Ainge has some room before exhausting the budget that the owners have acceded to. We may expect him to trade Rasheed’s contract for a young player with potential, in addition to resigning the likes of Tony Allen.

  • K.J. Lee

    In addition, I hope that Ainge frontloaded Pierce’s four year contract.

  • Sweeney

    We are very fortunate to be enjoying a great brand of business and basketball by the Celtics. They have shown loyalty to both Ainge and Rivers. This has to have had a trickle down effect on the team because of the return of Pierce and Allen. No matter what the scenario, they left money on the table to be back in Boston.

    We will see over the next few days how many of these vets really do want to win a ring or prefer to just talk a lot.

    Thank you C’s Management. Sign me up for another emotional year…

  • Jeff

    This is EXCELLENT NEWS!!!

    I was getting worried there for a while.

    Now for our bench. J O’Neal would be a huge pickup for part of the MLE. I think if we can get Mike Miller or Shaq for the other part of the MLE, then that leaves us with possibly TMAC for a vet’s min (I think if we can get him it’s almost a lock on a championship because he can create and would be the best 6th man in the NBA), or Rudy Fernandez and maybe trade Sheed for another big or wing type player we should be a lock.

    The ideal:
    PG – Bradley/Nate
    SG – Mike Miller/TA/Rudy
    SF – TMAC
    PF – Beasely/Davis/Harangody
    C – J O’Neal/Shaq/Erdin

    This would be a solid rotation. If we can get Miller, TMAC, TA back, Beasley, J O’Neal and Shaq I think this year is a lock for the ring!

    Depth, size, D, and scoring on the second unit.

  • K.J. Lee


    ‘J O’Neal would be a huge pickup for part of the MLE’.

    JO is signed for the full MLE, I think.

  • Todd

    J.O signed for the full MLE so the BEST way to fill out the roster ( after the pierce/allen signings) is trade Wallace (and his expiring/retiring contract) to Chicago for Luol Deng (seeing they want the cap space so badly) and it gives the C’s a young star player to rest either PP/RA for the reg. season which makes it worth the Luxury Tax hit for the C’s while using Bird Rights on Nate/Tony & Signing Harangody to fill out a championship roster