NBA 2022 offseason guide – How the Boston Celtics should approach the offseason

There’s a bitter feeling about how the Boston Celtics’ 2021-22 season ends.

Some would consider losing to the Golden State Warriors in the Finals to be a missed opportunity, especially after losing Game 4 at home and having a chance to go 3-1. Others will label it a learning experience that will benefit Boston in future playoffs.

Considering the team was .500 in January and considered unlikely to make the playoffs, this Boston season ended up being a huge success.

List Status: Champion List

team status

Boston’s success since Jan. 21 and now a trip to the NBA Finals has cemented the Celtics’ position as a championship team moving forward.

After a .500 loss in late January, the Celtics had a league-best 28-7 record and, more importantly, found defensive identity.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Celtics lead the league in defensive efficiency, opponent field goal percentage, pick-and-roll defense, drive-through defense, opponent points per game and field goal percentage at the rim.

The starting five of Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford and Robert Williams III can score 95.5 points per 100 possessions — that’s more than 100 games played together Best defensive efficiency in minutes.

We’ve seen competitive teams (Atlanta and Utah) burn before relying on roster continuity. But the Celtics have two under-26 team players Tatum and Brown, an elite defensive presence in Smart and Williams, and a complement of players who fit in with coach Ime Udoka on the team. sought identity.

If there’s a weakness, it’s a stagnant offense in close play — and a turnover.

During the regular season, the Celtics ranked 29th in clutch-time winning percentage (0.371, 13-22). They also went 3-9 in games decided by 3 points or less (the same record as the Rockets, which have the worst record overall).

In a Game 5 loss to Milwaukee, the Celtics averaged 4.6 seconds of touch in the fourth quarter, according to Second Spectrum. That’s their longest average touch length in any quarter in any game this season. They also had 59 passes in the fourth quarter — a decrease from the first three quarters.

Before Game 6 of the Finals, Tatum had 95 turnovers in the playoffs, the most in a single postseason since individual turnovers were first tracked in 1977-78. While not that high, Jaylen Brown turned the ball over 69 times, including five in a Game 5 loss.

Their Finals opponent, the Warriors, had 103 points in Finals turnovers, the most points in the first five games of the Finals since the Bulls in 1992.

The question for the Celtics heading into the offseason isn’t which free agent they keep (the only ones who can be free agents are Luke Cornett, Sam Hauser and Juwan Morgan), but whether the owner Interested in spending big bucks tax on luxury goods.

Including Horford’s $26.5 million partially guaranteed contract, the Celtics’ salary is $156.4 million, $7.5 million above the tax threshold before free agency.

Jaylen Brown

Brown faced a similar decision heading into the offseason, where he was eligible for a rookie extension in 2019.

The decision comes down to securing guaranteed money or looking at a more lucrative payday ahead at the end of the 2019-20 season.

Brown chose the guaranteed option, signing a four-year, $107 million extension that includes an additional $12 million in potential incentives.

The extension is $30 million less than a four-year max contract, but considering the guard just finished a season where he started 25 of a possible 74 games and averaged 13 points per game, it was a no-brainer .

The compromise between Boston and Brown three years ago on a rookie extension is now having a negative impact.

Starting Oct. 1, Brown is eligible to sign a three-year, $111 million extension that would increase to $123 million if bonuses are factored into his contract. The extension isn’t the maximum salary, as Boston is limited to offering a 120% salary increase in the final year of the contract. That means the maximum starting point for any extension is $34.1 million, which is $6 million less than the projected maximum earnings he would qualify for in 2024 as a free agent.

Brown’s contract extension is now $120 million less than when he was a free agent with the Celtics and $60 million less than when he signed with another team.

The extended route also kept Brown from being a supermax player for the next few seasons.

If Brown is selected to the All-NBA team in 2023 or 2024, he will be eligible to sign a five-year, $273 million contract with the Celtics.

When his role on the roster in 2019 was undefined, opting for guaranteed funding was a no-brainer, but that’s no longer the case.

Brown, who has scored 20 or more points for three straight seasons, is an All-Star and the cornerstone of the franchise.

He redefines his game offensively, less reliant on scoring from the perimeter and more in the paint.

Brown is shooting 72 percent from the restricted area this season, the best of his career. According to ESPN Stats & Info, he’s the only guard in the 2021-22 season to shoot at least 200 in the restricted area and shoot more than 70 percent from the field.

His 72 percent shooting in the paint is also the best single-season shooting of any guard in the past 10 years.

luxury tax

The Al Horford-Kemba Walker swap last June not only improved the roster, but also gave Boston a free card for a jailbreak when it pays the luxury tax for the 2021-22 season and beyond.

By taking back $10 million less in salary this season, Boston avoided paying taxes and eliminated the potential to be a repeat tax team in the future (four out of five).

Horford’s contract also gives the Celtics the flexibility to not pay a fine through the 2022-23 season if they feel they can’t compete for the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

Horford has a $26.5 million contract for the 2022-23 season with $19.5 million guaranteed. By dropping him this offseason, the Celtics will get right on the tax threshold, but at a high cost.

The last 35 games of the regular season and playoffs confirm that Boston can compete with the top teams in the East, and Horford should not fall victim to the salary cap, even if it means paying a penalty for the second time in nine seasons (last time) 2018- 19 season with Kyrie Irving on the roster).

The Celtics currently plan to pay a $12 million fine.

Which leads us to: Does management have the right to use the $6.4 million tax middle-class exception to sign a player, or use one of their three big trade exceptions ($17.1, $9.7, and $6.9 million) to acquire a player through a trade player?

The answer to that question will determine how active the Celtics are this offseason.

Offseason Cap Breakdown

Boston Celtics 2022-23 Salary Breakdown

depth map

Team needs

Resources for building a roster

  • Draft: Second-round pick

  • Future first-round picks starting in 2023

  • Tax middle tier: $6.4 million

  • Trading exceptions: $17.2, $9.7, $6.9, and $3.8 million

  • Cash: Send or receive $6.3 million in transactions

watch date

  • June 29: Sam Hauser and Juwan Morgan both have team options in their contracts. If Hauser’s $1.6 million option is exercised, his contract becomes a guaranteed $300,000. Morgan’s $1.8 million contract, if exercised, is non-guaranteed.

  • June 29: Two-way players Brodric Thomas and Matt Ryan are both eligible for $50,000 qualifying offers.

  • July 15: Nik Stauskas’ $2.2 million contract guaranteed. The former lottery pick has appeared in two playoff games this year.

  • September 1: $50,000 protection on $1.8 million contract if Malik Fitz is on the roster.


  • Jayson Tatum has a 15% trade bonus in his contract that will lapse if he is moved.

  • Marcus Smart’s trade bonus is less than $1 million, or 15% of his total back pay. If Smart is traded, he will receive $1 million from the Celtics, a bonus that will be added to his salary cap for the next four seasons.

  • Hauser and Morgan cannot be traded until their team options are exercised.

  • For trading purposes, only the guaranteed amount of Al Horford’s $26.5 million contract ($19.5 million) counts as earned wages in the transaction. The same rule applies to Nik Stauskas and Juwan Morgan’s unsecured contracts.

  • The Celtics could start their 2023 trade on draft night.

Eligible Extension

  • Grant Williams, a 2019 first-round pick, picked a good time to qualify for the extension. Williams is finishing his most productive season, averaging 7.8 points and 24.4 minutes per game. In the playoffs, the forward averaged 30.2 minutes per game and shot 42.9 percent from beyond the arc. According to ESPN Stats & Info, the forward ranks 12th in catch-and-shoot 3-pointers and 4th in corner 3-pointers in the regular season. He was eligible for an extension the day before the regular season began.

  • Al Horford is eligible for a two-season extension.

Asset draft

The Celtics traded their first trade of 2022 to San Antonio for Derrick White, but they did have a second of their own.

The Spurs also have the right to trade the No. 1 pick with Boston in 2028. Swap is top 1 protected.

Here’s how ESPN’s Jonathan Givony picked Boston in June:

No. 53 (own): Dereon Seabron, SG, NC State

MORE: Complete 2022 NBA Draft coverage


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