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Analysis: What the Kevin Garnett Signing Means for Boston In Free Agency

Back for one more run together?

Is it a good deal for both sides?

Garnett’s new deal, which Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald broke this morning is reportedly for 3 years and $34 million dollars according to Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports. Those figures represent a happy medium for both sides in the sense that Boston is not breaking the bank for Kevin Garnett (he could almost certainly get more on the open market, perhaps a maximum salary for next year from a team with cap room).

From Garnett’s perspective, he gives Boston a bit of a hometown discount, but is still paid amongst the league’s elite, especially for a 36-year-old who should decline at some point in the next three seasons.

I’ve heard a bit of complaining about the length of the deal from some NBA folks, but that seems a bit foolish to me. This is Kevin Garnett we are talking about here. Without him, the Celtics likely would have no chance of sniffing a championship for at least the next five years.

As long as the dollar amounts are reasonable, you give Garnett whatever he wants year-wise when you try to sign him and that’s exactly what Danny Ainge did here. Garnett is big on respect and players being rewarded with security and that’s what he got in this deal.

Will they be overpaying him by year three of this deal? Probably. However, you are also underpaying him next season as well in all likelihood. The length here is simply the price of doing business in will likely be the last contract of Garnett’s career.

Additionally, there’s a distinct possibility Garnett’s third year won’t be fully guaranteed (much like Paul Pierce’s final year of his four-year extension in 2010). With that, Ainge likely gives himself a trap door if Garnett’s body breaks down entirely. For now though with the figures that are being reported, this is nothing short of a home run deal for Boston in the short-term.

What does the deal mean for Ray Allen?

The next and perhaps most compelling chip in the free agency process now for Boston is Ray Allen. I’ve written at length on why it makes sense for Boston to bring back Allen, but that was all contingent on the C’s bringing back Garnett for next season and beyond.

With KG signed, the C’s are still a championship contender for next season. It’s an outside shot, but still a shot no less. Anyway you slice it, bringing Allen off the bench next season makes Boston a better offensive team compared to whoever the C’s could get to replace him (with limited resources as I’ll get to later) in free agency. If Allen still wants to win another title, he still has a chance to do it here and that’s important.

Miami is reportedly hot on Ray’s trail, but as we all know Boston can still pay Allen more than any contender on the market. The Heat can only offer Ray $3 million, where as the sharpshooter is worth much more than that on the open market.

With Garnett taking a reasonable salary, it could free up Ainge to offer Allen more money in his offer, which could help tip the sails back to Boston. Having KG as a recruiting tool here, talking Ray out of signing with the enemy and instead come back for another run at them is crucial as well.

Damage has been done between the C’s and Allen over the past couple years here, but not beyond repair. Garnett, Doc as well as a few extra dollars may be enough to get Allen back in Green for next year. Plus, I don’t think Allen is the kind of guy to jump ship like that. Despite the change in his role, I still believe he likes playing in Boston a lot. Hopefully he still believes that in the next few days.

What does the deal mean for free agency this year?

Here’s a quick look at how the C’s current contracts look for this season.

Paul Pierce: $16.79 million
Kevin Garnett: $11 million (rough estimate)
Rajon Rondo: $11 million
Avery Bradley: $1.63 million
JaJuan Johnson: $1.089 million
Jared Sullinger: $ 1.09 million
Fab Melo: $ 1.04 million

Non-Guaranteed Deals:
E’Twaun Moore: $762,000 (team option)
Sean Williams: $915,852 (non-guaranteed deal, option due in August)
Kris Joseph: (no offer yet)

Qualifying offer:
Greg Stiemsma: $1.05 million

Total committed to 7 players: 43.6 million (estimate)

Now let’s take a quick look at the C’s remaining unsigned free agents that still have cap holds

Brandon Bass (bird rights)
Ray Allen (bird rights)
Mickael Pietrus
Keyon Dooling (bird rights)
Marquis Daniels
Sasha Pavlovic
Ryan Hollins
Jeff Green (bird rights)
Nenad Krstic (playing overseas, but he has an out in his contract and C’s still have bird rights on him)

The important numbers to keep in mind here are $58 million (projected salary cap), $70 million (luxury tax), and $74 million (luxury tax apron for use of full mid-level exception)

As you can see by the numbers, there’s no real chance for the C’s here to spend big on a free agent on the open market with their cap room, unless they plan on saying goodbye to almost all of their own free agents. That won’t happen.

Boston could still acquire an above-average player like O.J. Mayo or Josh Smith via a sign-and-trade but the chances of that happening are very remote. Additionally, Mayo likely won’t sign for just MLE money, (unless Doc and Danny can do a great sell job) so it’s fair to not count on Mayo being in Boston next season despite numerous reports of Boston’s interest in him.

As far as paying the rest of the C’s own free agents though, Boston is in good shape thanks to Garnett’s deal. Boston will likely try to avoid the luxury tax, but may go above it for one more year here while they have the best chance at winning a championship if it helps them retain their key pieces. Let’s take a quick look at those key pieces:

—Jeff Green is likely to return on a short-term deal (think 6-9 million per year at 2-3 years).

Brandon Bass could be re-signed but will probably want at least 3-4 years guaranteed in any deal. That may be too long for Ainge’s liking. If so, he could be used as sign-and-trade bait with the drafting of Jared Sullinger making him more expendable.

—Ray Allen could be offered anywhere from $5-8 million dollars in a fair offer If the C’s truly want him back.

Looking at the money breakdown it’s likely Boston can bring back at least two (and potentially all three) of those three guys and still have the full $5 million MLE to spend on another player (or multiple players) by staying under the $74 million luxury tax apron which allows them the $5 million dollar exception as opposed to the $3 million mini mid-level.

Additionally, staying under that $74 million apron also gives Boston access to the 1.95 million bi-annual exception, which they could use to bring back a guy like Mickael Pietrus or Chris Wilcox at above the veteran’s minimum.

Crunching the numbers make all of the circumstances I just described very doable for Ainge and company. Barring a big sign-and-trade, I expect the majority of the C’s roster to return next season, including guys like Dooling, Pietrus, Green, Wilcox and potentially Bass if his market doesn’t get too high.

Allen, of course is the wildcard, but Boston has some more money now to throw at him, which should only help the cause. I predicted before the offseason he would be back if Garnett was returning and I stand by that.

What does the deal mean for Boston’s free agency long-term?

It’s tough to tell too much about it what it means for Boston long-term without seeing full details of Garnett’s contract, but as I mentioned earlier, I would expect the third-year of the deal to be some kind of option or maybe only partially guaranteed to give Boston some added flexibility.

Besides the money though, you can’t put a dollar figure on the value of Garnett for Boston for another couple years from a team as well as marketing standpoint. Whatever outside chance Boston has of contending over the next two years is, you can’t deny that there is a chance. That’s largely due to Garnett’s presence and that reality should attract veteran free agents that want to go for a title but don’t necessarily want to do it with the Heat.

All in all, this couldn’t have lined up much better for Boston upon entering July 1st. Ainge knows this team needs depth, scoring and rebounding, not necessarily in that order. He has the means to address those needs in-house as well as on the open market and trade market.

Now that Garnett is along for the ride, it’s time for Ainge to execute. If a couple more things go Boston’s way and Doc Rivers does a good job on the recruiting trail, the C’s could be lined up to give Miami another run for their money next June.

  • CTVT802

    THANK GOD KG IS BACK, lets bring Ray back home

    • bigblack1954


  • Cornhead

    Whew! KG was the "ticket". Now I have to echo CTVT, pay RayRay and keep him in green.

    If we keep RayRay, MP, Dooling, and hopefully Bass, look out! Sullinger was a great pick and I predict will pay dividends in '12-'13 and beyond.

    Green? meh, I wouldn't spend more than 6mil on him.

  • Robert

    Ray 6M Jef Green 7m Piet 2m Dooling 1,5 M Total 14,5 M + 43.6 M = 58 m so even if they do not sign Bass its tough to get someone for more than the 5 M mid level. I say resign Bass and get some scorer for the mid level

    • marilyn

      pay GREEN MORE than RAY RAY???Whatzamattayou???

  • -jp

    Would rather have Mayo than Ray if its between the two of them

    • cwt

      I kind of agree. And if Memphis is really interested in Ray (and the interest is mutual) a sign and trade would put a pretty good-looking contract on the table for OJ.

      Quick numbers: C's sign Ray for 2/12 (starting salary of $6mm), they can take back 125% of that first year salary = $7.5, OJ's deal could be for 4 years, with ~500k raise each year. Total value = 4/32. Not too shabby, right?

    • marilyn


  • Ching
  • Anthony

    Just curious if anyone would object if Pierce restructures his contract for slightly less per year but tacking on 1 extra year. Maybe something like $39 mil for 3 years and meaning his contract would end the same time as KG and Rondo. It'll offer some $$ flexibility and Pierce and KG can retire at the same time

    Would that even a possible option?

    • Lakershater13

      Nobody in a contract can restructure. The only way to go about this would be amnesty Pierce and renounce all the free agents to get rid of cap holds and then resign Pierce. Only to save the team 2-3 mil per year. Not going to happen.

      • Anthony

        Hmm. It was worth a thought.

        $2-3 mil would mean getting back extra guy like MP, Dooling, and Wilcox. Isn't that worth it?

      • Joe

        I was under the impression that once you amnesty a player you essentially cannot resign them?

        • Phil

          You can't. I believe the window where you can't sign them is either a year, or until the previous contract would've run out, whichever is shorter.

          The Celtics wouldn't even have a shot at him getting through the claims process anyway. I'm sure some team under the cap would offer him a few bucks, even if he tried to strong arm his way to not getting claimed like Billups did last year. Basically, Pierce isn't getting amnestied.

  • bigblack1954


    • GowGow

      Yeah, keep copy/pasting it. Maybe Ainge will miraculously look at your repetitive posts and make it happen.

  • smalltownID

    Dooling was pathetic in about 44 of his 46 games. No real interest in his return. I'm all about intangibles and chemistry but at some point you have to produce consistently. You take away two of those playoff games and he was ab absoulte rip-off

    • CTVT802

      The only thing is that we have Rondo, so having a good backup point guard (Raymond Felton) is not totally necessary.

  • James Patrick

    "You have to understand when you come here… there's an honor and responsibility with putting on this great jersey" KG from his Anything is possible speech.

    They better retire #5, cuz THAT's a Celtic!!!!

    • The Truth

      I think maybe he did come back to see that #5 hanging from the rafters of the garden.

    • marilyn

      TOTALLY agree !!!!

  • ripsonics

    I LOVE IT.

    But really… how can you not? Why would anyone think giving the cornerstone of your franchise exactly what he wants, was a bad idea? there is no argument against it. No KG almost certainly means no Ray, and without the two of them, Boston is in some trouble offensively, and definitely defensively next year.

    It will be interesting to see who we can get. I would be very interested in signing and trading BB for Smith if thats a possibility. I like BB a lot, but he disappeared in the playoffs after that one HUGE game, and Smith I think would work really well in our system.

    Get Smith and our starting lineup and bench would be silly good!

    Make it happen DA

    GO C's!

    • Phil

      Gonna have to give up a good deal more than Brandon Bass. Something like Avery Bradley and a few picks is probably the best offer the Celtics could come up with. Smith is an expiring contract, there's really no harm at all for the Hawks to just keep him and let him walk. Taking on a bad contract in return (which Bass will likely be,) is the way to kill your franchise. You don't get all stars for nothing unless they have a horrible contract.

      I really don't see how Bass has much value, but then again, I didn't think Big Baby had any value either, so who knows.

      • ElRoz

        Smith can rebound and block shots even if he is not scoring; Bass not that much besides scoring.

    • CTVT802

      If the Celts get Smith, he is not settling for the bench. He would start at PF with KG at center. They would be a nasty fastbreak team. However, the celts have always been speculating with their players for Josh Smith, so its unlikely.

  • ElRoz

    Bringing back last years team but with healthy Green and Wilcox, and healed up Ray, Pietrus, and Bradley would be SUPER!

    Nice to see them making an offer to Stiemsma. I liked Hollins' energy but apparently they are moving towards Feb Melo more? If Wilcox returns it will be KG, Wilcox, Stiemsma as three possible centers.

  • ElRoz

    oh, and Dooling – would love to see him back!

    • marilyn

      I agree….I see great potential in Stiemsma and Dooling and Wilcox [if he can stay healthy…really like this guy]..and Pietrus [LOVE him]….not so much Hollins yet…maybe with time…and Green …well he needs to 'beast up'

  • skeeds

    I think Bass is the key from now on. There's no doubt that he would be a fantastic trade chip by S&T. Along with a future pick and one of the sophomores, for example. Drafting Sullinger makes Bass a tiny bit more expendable too…

    Gamewise, we need to think about what bringing KG back means. Whatever spot he decides to fill, 4 or 5, the guy playing next to him needs to take the role of the aggressor. KG will stay valuable and productive, as long as he doesn't need to bang down low through the game, box out all those 25 y/o beasts every possession, and lead the team in rebounds. I'm not sure Bass fits that mold.
    If Ainge pulls of a S&T for a physical guy, or even better Josh Smith or Pau Gasol, (two guys so good that it's simply ridiculous that their teams are shopping them), we are in for some serious basketball next season.

    • marilyn

      think KENDRICK PERKINS…why oh why did they let themselves lose KP????? SOOOO bad

  • Lakershater13

    Maybe its just me but I dont want to see the Cs sign Bass to a big contract. With the new cap rules I think you will see teams use money a bit more responsibly. Portland didnt put a qualifying offer on Hickson basically saying he is not worth 4.4 mil. Bass opted out of a 4 mil contract. While I think he is looking for a long term deal I also think he will be looking to get more money. If the Cs can get Hickson for around 4-5 mil and Bass is asking for 6-8 mil I say let Bass walk and sign Hickson. Hickson is younger with better overall career numbers.

    • marilyn

      Bass needs toughen up some…he's just not the beast he could be ..and he needs to get confident too cuz when he's HOT he is sumpin sumpin alright…maybe he just needs a little more AGE on him…LOL

  • keltic

    sign and trade bass and green for josh smith! he is a perfect fit, him and kg would work great together not to mention someone that can run the break w rondo. i honestly think ainge HAS to go all in and do something like this if possible. we need more star power and athleticism. it would show the rest of the league we arent in it just to make the playoffs. miami would shit themselves!

    we'd have to give up some bench productivity but hopefully out of the 3 rooks and JJJ and Moore you'd think at least one of them will step up and be productive enough to play big bench mins.

    • steve

      How about we sign/trade Brandon Bass, Jajuan Johnson, the rights to Jared Sullinger, and a 2013 first round pick. Then we sign Jeff Green

      • keltic

        yeah that sounds good to me too, listen i like this past yrs team, and i know most people dont feel we need to change much, but if we really want to make a splash next year, ainge needs to add some PROVEN young talent like smith

    • marilyn

      I'm wondering…is Josh Smith the thug guy with the sketchy past? If so he don't sound green to me…

  • LACelticFan

    I do ask the question did KG resign with a promise that he will or will not be playing C the entire season? Sully can play center, Melo and Steamer ARE centers, but do you think we still are going after a Chris Kaman?

  • Diego Rezende

    Can we make a run at Chris Kaman or at least Marcus Camby?

  • Cornhead

    I'm with everyone who thinks J-Smoove would look great in green, but I just don't think Bass and a draft pick would be worth it for Atlanta. Idk, maybe Bass, Green, draft pick, and either one of our rookies our 2nd year guys, but it's gonna take alot more to get Josh Smith to come to the good side, imo.

  • Bill

    Bass is key. Banged down low, made some key shots. He'll only get better in the rotation next year with a full camp.

    With KG and Bass in the lineup, Sullinger and Melo are guaranteed to learn a few things and will be great pickups in the long term.

    Ray over Mayo? I'm torn… you don't want to motivate a player of Ray's ability, but you have to look to the future as well. As a fan, I wouldn't be upset either way.

  • howardavellino


    (just kidding)

  • skeeds

    Worst case scenario Ainge should grab Ilyasova. This guy will be gold for us. Very young, talented across the board, smart and tenacious. He's the perfect intangibles guy. I bet doc's gonna love him. Too cheap for his skill level too.

    • Howard Avellino

      Ilyasova would be fantastic. Why do you think he'll be cheap? I am assuming he'll get a $50 million contract.

  • yeah

    Steve Novak plz

  • Big 4 fan

    Who needs Steve Novak if we have Ray Allen! :) Let's Sign Ray today!

    • marilyn

      Steve Novak? You can't be serious… RAY RAY he AIN'T…..[sorry Steve, but it's the truth]

  • Zee

    Let’s go!

  • DNabokov

    Cs were only 1 win away from beating the team-that-shall-not-be-named while not having Avery or Green. I say keep the Big-4 core, and now that KG has signed I’d like to think Ray is much more inclined to as well (even if he does change teams, I hope to god he doesn’t go to the team-that-shall-not-be-named). Celtics’ championship core, along with healthy role players and perhaps a spot-up shooter like Jamal Crawford could be our ticket into the Finals next year. No team in the East can best us in a seven game series, not even when overrated players like Lebron James get extremely lucky on their jump shots (game 6).

  • skeeds

    So, apparently the Celtics are pursuing everyone on the market. Awesomet!!! Weirdly, most names are guards. Crawford, Terry, Mayo… which means bringing Ray back might be a bit more difficult than we hoped…

    The Heat must've made a very good pitch. Their plan of moving LBJ at the 4, Bosh at the 5, making room for Ray at the wing, sounds like a proper nightmare. LBJ can dominate the 4, and with Ray creating all sorts of space on the floor you need 7 defenders to lock them down… Unfortunately for us, Spoelstra seems to have finally figured it out.
    The worst thing is that as much as I hate it, from Ray's standpoint, it's a good career move. Damn it. DAMN IT!!!

    • Howard Avellino

      It's a terrible move. There's no upside: they _already_ won the championship without him! If they win again, he didn't make them better. If they don't win again, he'll get a lot of the blame. And if they do what you're suggesting, he'll deserve it! Neither Ray nor Wade can guard 3s… and yes, 3s can guard Ray on the other end.

      Beyond that, what will they do with Ray on offense? He needs screens! Who's setting them, LeBron or Bosh? They're both too much of prima donnas to set screens for Ray Allen. The whole idea makes absolutely zero sense.

      Now, if Ray wants to sign for the mini mid-level, to play the 2 on the second unit with Haslem, Battier and Joel Anthony, he could be very successful doing that. Very successful. But I thought he wanted a bigger role than that.

  • Ford

    CH – There are a lot of rumors floating around that the grizzlies are interested in ray allen, and that the c's would pursue a sign and trade for mayo?
    do we like mayo? it seems to me that he would be a very different player, he could be given the keys to the offense from the bench, but his numbers have declined every year from his rookie campaign, and doesnt shoot the three ball all that well…
    im ambivolent about him at this point, but i dont know all that much about him. any thoughts?

  • CTVT802

    I think if the Celtics resign their players, they will be good enough without others. Everybody wants Josh Smith, Eric Gordon, or HIbbert, but the likelihood of it happening is so slim. The Celtics had something really special last year, so if they resign most of their good role players, they should have a good shot. dooling, allen, green, pietrus, sully, melo, and jj. They have a really solid bench that can rebound, score, play defense. I think Doc would feel fine leaving a second unit out there for some time, without too much heartache,

  • Albert levy

    The City of Boston will love that keeping a wonderful together rather than playing elsewhere and that love is more important than money.

    Boston has loyalty written all over it.

  • phinfan1getnmarried2pamandersonlookalike

    Our Beloved Celtics are in great position! And, I say that regarding the next few yrs. here! With KG back in the fold, we are as good as gold ! Danny ( Ainge ) certainly knows what he is doing and I am sure that he will be in the running for General Manager of the year, in the very near future! He's not done wheeling and dealing! He will get the other pieces of this puzzle, and we are totally in line for banners 18-20 and beyond! Kg will be tutoring and mentoring our newest pcs. ( via the draft ), and look forward to great things from them this year ! Had we had Bradley, Green and Wilcox for the Heat series, I believe that we would be putting up banner 18, instead of the heat walking away w/ that trophy!

  • Rodel

    excited to see kg, pierce, allen, sullinger, melo, rondo, green, joseph, wilcox, bass, bradley, moore, johnson team up this coming season

  • marilyn

    Comparatively speaking…why is Bradley making so LITTLE… $1.63 million…I mean what did
    JaJuan Johnson do to deserve $1.089 million ?? Bradley was on FIRE before his injury…he has so much potential…and personally I don't think they could pay Pierce, KG, RA or RR ENOUGH…no matter WHAT they paid them…they are all so awesome I hate to even contemplate the day when any of the fabulous four leaves the Celtics ….PLEASE don't let the C's go down the drain like the Red Sox have gone this year….