Analysis: What the Kevin Garnett Signing Means for Boston In Free Agency
Posted by Brian Robb on Jun 30, 2012
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
E’Twaun Moore: $762,000 (team option)
Sean Williams: $915,852 (non-guaranteed deal, option due in August)
Kris Joseph: (no offer yet)
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)
Keyon Dooling (bird rights)
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.