The Celtics said goodbye to a key cog in their locker room and elite defense over the last two seasons when they traded Aron Baynes to the Suns along with the 24th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft Thursday night. Boston received a protected 2020 first round pick from the Bucks in return.
With the likely departures of Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, the Celtics can expect to have $25.8 million in cap space heading into free agency, according to ESPN's Bobby Marks. If the Celtics renounce the rights to restricted free agent Terry Rozier, they can create up to $34 million in space.
While this probably wasn't the preferred path for the Celtics to take following a disappointing 2018-19 season, this amount of money leaves them with a lot of options on how to build the team moving forward.
If Boston renounces Rozier and creates $34 million in space, they would have the ability to fit a 35 percent max contract on their cap sheet, reserved for players with 7-to-9 years of NBA experience. No matter what they'll be able to offer 25 percent max contracts, reserved for players with six or fewer years of experience.
If they don't go after marquee free agents, the Celtics could target restricted free agents like Malcolm Brogdon and D'Angelo Russell, or offer multiple one-year deals to build a solid roster around their young core while maintaining flexibility for next summer.
Another option would be to absorb unwanted contracts in trades coupled with first round picks. If Danny Ainge wants to re-stock his chest of draft picks, helping out ring contenders get out of big contracts would be the best way to do that. Evan Turner in Portland comes to mind.
The Celtics may not contend for a championship next season without Irving and Horford, but they have plenty of ways to go in building around their crop of young stars.
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