Money talk: Breaking down Boston’s roster
Posted by Tom Westerholm on Jul 26, 2013
If Jeff Green can pick up where he left off last year, his deal will look friendly.
About two weeks ago, Matt Moore — host of the eminently worthwhile CBS Eye On Basketball podcast — mentioned in passing an interesting way to evaluate this summer’s deals in free agency. Paraphrasing, Moore said he has been breaking things down by assigning monetary values to a player’s abilities, what they bring to the team. For example, Moore said, Andre Iguodala’s $15 million price tag is intimidating at first glance, but then when one breaks it down, the Warriors are paying Iguodala $9 million for defense and $6 million for offense and leadership. Suddenly, Iguodala’s contract starts to make a lot of sense.
As the Celtics enter a rebuilding phase, money is at a premium, and keeping reasonable contracts becomes paramount. So in part because it’s interesting and in part because the offseason doldrums are bearing down on us like a freight train, let’s break down at Boston’s contract situation at length (all contract info from HoopsHype.com).
Rajon Rondo: $12 million in 2013/’14
- $10 million to run an offense and be a deadly force in big games.
- $2 million for his sometimes-gambling defense.
This doesn’t even take into account the massive strides Rondo took shooting the ball from 3-9 feet (27% in 2012/’13 to 41% last season) and from 16-23 feet (39% to 48%) per HoopData.com. Deron Williams has been in the league one more year and makes $18 million a year. Derrick Rose has been in the league two fewer years and makes $16 million. Even if we assume that a healthy Rondo is not better than either a healthy Rose or a healthy Williams, Rondo’s $12 million looks like a steal in comparison.
Jared Sullinger: $1.3 million
- $0.8 million for rebounding, especially offensive.
- $0.5 million for his scoring.
Rookie contracts are fun. Here’s something awesome: In 2016/’17, the Celtics will have a team option as to whether or not they want to pay Sully $3.2 million. How much would you pay Jared Sullinger to rebound like he did last year (assuming health, obviously, which most contracts do anyway)? Well over $1.3 million, certainly, meaning that any offense and defense he can contribute is just gravy.
Kelly Olynyk: $1.98 million
I would happily pay Kelly Olynyk at least $1.98 million just to look like Dirk in Summer League and get my hopes unreasonably high for the regular season.
Avery Bradley: $2.5 million
- $2 million for on-ball defense.
- $0.5 million for corner 3-pointers and off-ball cuts.
Bradley’s incredibly friendly contract puts his offensive struggles last season in some perspective. Still, with his impending return to the shooting guard position next season where he clearly feels more comfortable, Bradley has the potential to make big strides toward his next contract this year.
Marshon Brooks: $1.2 million
- $1.2 million for the ability to create offense.
- $0.0 million for defense, which is appropriate.
Next year, Brooks’ contract hops up to $2.2 million, but the Celtics have a team option they can decline if they want, making Brooks essentially an expiring deal they can re-sign for cheap if he plays well. Michael Pina broke down Brooks and all of the other Nets acquisitions really nicely, and it will suffice to say that Boston is paying Brooks $1.2 million for offense and offense only. It isn’t too much to pay for an offensive-minded player, but he will need to either be very good at scoring or show some previously lacking defensive awareness next year if Boston is going to pick up his option.
Shavlik Randolph: $1.1 million
- $1.1 million to generally hustle and rebound.
Good contract? Sure. Impactful on a lottery team? Not especially. But given the friendly price tag and all the work Shav did for Boston last year, it might be nice to give him a guaranteed season since winning immediately isn’t really a priority any more.
Jeff Green: $8.7 million
- $6 million for largely efficient offense, including 3-pointers and highlight-reel dunks.
- $2.7 million for on-ball defense, with the hope that off-ball defense improves.
Think of this less as a “C” on a report card and more as an “incomplete.” Last year, Jeff Green scored 16.6 points per 36 minutes and showed massive improvements on the offensive end as the year went on. By the end of the season, he was one of Boston’s top scorers, a supremely efficient spot-up 3-point shooter, a monster dunker and a solid individual defender. If Green can pick up where he left off last season, I would happily pay him $6 million for his offense and $3 million for his defense (taking away $0.3 million for his rebounding just because I can). But I want to hedge my bets a little bit until we see if Green can continue to produce efficiently without Pierce and with opposing defenses planning for him as more of an offensive focal point.
Kris Humphries: $12 million
- $2 million to rebound and set picks.
- $10 million to go away after 2013/’14.
Listen, I’m as disappointed as the rest of the Celtics’ fanbase that Kris Humphries is a Celtic and Paul Pierce isn’t this year, but paying him $12 million to rid the books of $12 million next year (especially when you saw higher up on this list the amount of talent one can acquire with $12 million) isn’t the worst thing in the world, I guess.
Brandon Bass: $6.75 million
- $4 million for mid-range jumpers
- $2.75 million for solid on-ball defense without much rebounding or help defense
Bass quietly improved throughout last season, and in the playoffs, his defense on Carmelo Anthony helped make the series respectable. That being said, paying him $2.75 million to pull down 6.8 rebounds per 36 minutes as a starting power forward is kind of cringeworthy.
Fab Melo: $1.3 million
- $1.3 million to be very, very tall.
There is a solid chance Fab Melo never plays more than garbage minutes for the Celtics, unless they are way more serious than we anticipated about tanking. And although Fab’s contract is a rookie contract, he’s essentially making the same money as Jarod Sullinger. But since Sully is so underpaid, we’ll consider it even.
Keith Bogans: $5.1 million
- $5 million for somewhat-solid-but-deteriorating defense.
- $0.1 million for offense and rebounding.
Again, the link above to Michael Pina’s article will give you what you need to know about Bogans’ game. The good news is that his massive salary is fully nonguaranteed after this year, making him the basic equivalent of an expiring deal. The bad news is that, well, Boston owes Keith Bogans $5.1 million this season.
Courtney Lee: $5.2 million
- $2.2 million for scoring and 3-point shooting.
- $1.0 million for defense.
- $2.0 million in the hopes that he improves this year.
For all the talk about how badly Courtney Lee played last year, his 3-point percentages (.371 overall) were surprisingly middling. Lee’s contract is unwarranted given last year’s play, but it isn’t untradeable. If this season’s free agent market taught us anything, it’s that shooters have value in today’s NBA, and a team looking at Lee’s numbers from last season could convince themselves that he is a shooter.
Still. $5 million is too much for Courtney Lee, especially on a rebuilding team.
Jordan Crawford: $2.1 million
- $1.5 million for shot creation and 42% shooting.
- $0.6 million for surprising court vision.
Crawford’s deal isn’t indefensible since it’s not expensive by any means, but it isn’t particularly good. His assist to turnover ratio was fineish (2.5/1.6), but his shot selection was predictably mediocre, and his 3-point shooting was painfully bad.
Gerald Wallace: $10 million
- $10 million for trying really REALLY incredibly hard and rarely succeeding.
I actually really like Gerald Wallace. As a person. In a vacuum. He works incredibly hard, and he clearly cares a lot, maybe even a little too much. But paying $10 million for a guy who averaged seven points on six field goal attempts per game last year is hard to swallow, and his contract’s stretch provision really only prolongs the pain. This is an awful deal, and if Boston finds a way to rid itself of the bill, it will be an easy decision.
Obviously, this is little more than a thought exercise, but it’s an interesting way to break down the roster. It’s also interesting to note exactly how much damage one or two truly bad contracts can do to a team’s cap space. But all in all, Ainge seems to have done a nice job of limiting the team’s financial problems.
How would you all have broken things down differently?
Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.