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Could Boston Celtics afford to give Rajon Rondo a max contract?

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 11.21.04 PM

After reports surfaced that Rajon Rondo wanted a five-year, $100 million deal, it was widely assumed that the Celtics would decline to re-sign him if he wanted the mega-max contract he would be eligible for. At first glance, Rondo’s prime doesn’t seem to mesh very well with Boston’s rebuilding window. Why sign a max-contract player if you won’t be able to field a competitive team?

I gave it some consideration over at MassLive, where I’ve been filling in for the vacationing Jay King:

“It’s unlikely the Celtics will have to give Rondo the super-max five-year, $100 million deal he reportedly asked for earlier this year. But for the sake of argument, let’s examine what would happen if they did. How capped out would they be long-term?

It’s actually not as bad as one might think. Giving Rondo the super-max would essentially end Boston’s summer of 2015, but Rondo is a top free agent in that class. As mouth-watering as Marc Gasol’s two-way scoring and rim-protecting talents would be on Boston’s center-deprived roster, he’s not coming to Boston anyway.

Per Shamsports.com, Boston could pay Rondo his $100 million deal and get itself down to $66.694 million (before signing its 2015 rookies). That’s assuming Rondo’s deal isn’t back-loaded, which it very well might be — Boston would much rather pay him $23 million in the first year before the cap rises, as it’s projected to do wildly over the next few years.

Keith Bogans’ $5.5 million deal is extremely unlikely to last the length of this year, and by waiving Vitor Faverani’s non-guaranteed contract, the Celtics could get themselves down to roughly $41.7 million before signing Rondo. Jeff Green can opt out of his contract next summer ($9.2 million), but it’s not wise to bank on that possibility. The projected cap is $66.5 million for 2015-16, with a tax level of $81.0 million. Since the Celtics would be re-signing Rondo with Bird rights, and since they would be under the $81 million tax level even if Jeff Green didn’t opt out, they would be able to avoid paying the luxury tax. That’s important — when Boston gets good again, it would rather avoid paying the hefty repeater tax.

In this scenario, Boston would be taking a calculated gamble that its young players will develop going forward. Rondo by himself isn’t going to convince anyone to sign in Boston, but if Marcus Smart can become a borderline All-Star, or if Jared Sullinger and/or Kelly Olynyk can take a big step forward, Boston will be a big piece or two away from being a tough out in the playoffs.

Being a tough out is important: That’s how free agents are signed. In 2007, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen would have been a tough out in the playoffs, which was enough to convince Kevin Garnett to sign on. Mega-top-level free agents like Kevin Durant probably aren’t going to be convinced by a Rondo/Smart/Sullinger core. But Boston could put itself in a good position going forward simply by developing its young talent. Meanwhile, the smorgasbord of picks and prospects will be available if any potential suitors come calling.”

You can read the full piece over on MassLive. I’ll be back to full-time Celtics Hubbing after this week.

Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.

  • hax

    If Rondo becomes a legit scoring threat, he can definitely raise his value to max level.
    ______
    We also signed 3 more guys to our training camp roster.
    So we have 21 guys fighting for 15 spots. And only 13 for the active roster.

    • Coach A. Johnson

      Im sure its 15 for the active roster raised from 13 for last season. But I agree Rondo is going to have to score around 15ppg and still dish out 10ppg, to get that MAX deal. And some of those guys are realistic, they know they won’t make the squad over anyone that was drafted or traded to the team, but this is then a chance to go to Maine and stay in the program until something more solid opens up. Only guy really one the bubble is Johnson. Oh and don’t count Bogans, Danny will trade or buy him out by training camp. Should look at Dallas though. They are under the cap and need more help.

      • hax

        Off-topic. Celtics fan in LA?

        • Coach A. Johnson

          yup, since 83-84

      • hax

        I wouldn’t mind trading Bogans-Faverani-Anthony for Perkins. :)

  • Janos

    of corse they does what kind questins this? come on.

  • Coach A. Johnson

    The question also is what PGs are making MAX or close to max, and where does Rondo stand vs them? http://www.spotrac.com/rankings/nba/point-guard/ has the answer. He is the 7th highest paid PG right now and only Paul, Williams, and Rose are MAX guys.They are also face of the franchise guys too. Rondo is ready to be the Face of the Franchise. It’s coming later than usual, but these are usual times. If he gets this roster to the playoffs, then he will garner some MVP votes and that will get him that MAX deal.

  • hax

    5 years/$60 million would be the best of both worlds, but I’m sure he’ll want more.

    • Coach A. Johnson

      5yrs/60mil is still only 12 per year, what he currently makes. I am thinking more like 5yrs/90million. That’s about 18 per year, and make him the second or third highest paid PG.

  • Thomas Graham

    hell yeah they can its not like they have superstars on the team c’mon pay the man

  • check12check

    I just don’t think it’s a good idea. It comes down to how good you believe Rajon Rondo is, and I, frankly, don’t think he is worth that money. Rondo himself and many Celtics fans seem to treat Rondo as though he is a top 10 talent, but I’d argue he is barely a top 10 PG. A few things about his game before we compare him to others:

    -good assist numbers, but they are downplayed by his increases in turnovers.

    -good rebounding numbers for his position, but 4-5 rebounds doesn’t impact THAT much

    -we know about his shooting struggles from range (where he has made some progress)

    -I feel it is overlooked that Rondo has consistently been a little below league average in regard to shooting percentage at the rim.

    -His Turn Overs have gone up consistently from 1.8 in ’07 to 3.9 in ’13

    -Rondo has never had a season where he shot 65% or higher from the FT line (a required skill in a star player)

    -His highest scoring average for a season is 13.7 points

    -and I can’t find a good way to quantify this, but I don’t feel his defense has had the same intensity in recent years.

    I’m going to include this article just to show how people outside of the celtics fan base view him.

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2010636-br-nba-200-top-37-point-guards-in-2013-14/page/24

    I feel it’s a flawed article for sure, and it was written at a time where things did not look pretty for Rondo, but having him ranked as the #16 PG shows what I am getting at.

    and now look around the league. there are tons of great PGs out there. a few tiers:

    guys only crazy people think Rondo is better than
    Rose
    Westbrook
    Parker
    Lillard (young sure, but daaaaaaang)
    Irving
    John Wall (past aside, you have to respect the guy now)
    Chris Paul
    Eric Bledsoe

    so, already I am saying Rondo ranks #9 without being, at least in my opinion, controversial

    guys I would take over Rondo that others will probably argue with:
    Kyle Lowry (small sample size of success, but I believe in him)
    Ty Lawson
    Kemba Walker (this one could be a bust, but I think in the right environment, he could do well)

    and there are lots of other comparable players.

    this will probably be an unpopular post (if it even gets read. I’m posting this pretty late onto this article), but I really think we need to think more about what we are getting out of Rondo

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