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Really enjoy your weekly columns on mailbags. I have a question for you. Could you please review the terms salary cap, luxury tax, apron, and any other relevant terms for those of us who are only vaguely familiar with them? Also, have the 76ers found a way around the system, thanks to James Harden? And will the NBA allow this tactic to interfere with the carefully crafted strategy to keep the league competitive? Thanks. —Matthew, Rockport, ME
Of course, Matt, let’s take a few of them in terms of how they relate to the Celtics’ current situation.
Salary cap: A limit each season on what a team can spend on players in free agency. There are rules about this (exceptions, bird rights, etc.), but this is a general premise. The Celtics will exceed the salary cap with this roster with the salary commitments they have made for future seasons, so they will be limited with their free agent spending to mid-level exceptions and veteran minimum contracts. Essentially, they won’t have a “cap room” for a while.
Luxury tax: A figure of about $25 million above the salary cap that changes every year. When a team exceeds this limit, it must pay a penalty for each dollar spent over the limit. It’s just a way of trying to level the playing field for owners with deep pockets. There are also a lot of team building limits for franchises in the tax.
Apron: This is another dollar figure that changes every year in relation to the luxury/wage tax cap. This only matters for teams that use the mid-tier exception or do a sign-and-trade where they receive a player. When this happens, the “apron” kicks in and serves as a hard salary cap (i.e., spending limit) for the team’s payroll that season.
The Harden case is fascinating from an investigative standpoint as it relates to tampering with or circumventing cap rules. If it’s proven that the Sixers promised Harden a big contract after this year (unlikely), the NBA could get tough by penalizing the Sixers with draft picks, big fines and a veto on the deal itself. same. However, this scenario is unlikely because there is unlikely to be a paper trail if it happens. Instead, a simple minor penalty (second-round pick) is probably the worst the NBA will do to the Sixers here. However, this is an issue that should be taken more seriously in the upcoming CBA as it is a big competitive advantage for teams with no cap room and no title aspirations.
I wanted to ask about the recovery of Rob Williams? Has anyone investigated how he feels? Or what was his off season like? What does he do to strengthen his body? And what kinds of things did he work on? Can we expect more offense from him this year? — Matte
We haven’t heard from Rob this offseason, but based on talking to people behind the scenes, there are no long-term concerns regarding his knee injury. No surgery was needed, so ample rest this summer should have him 100% back in camp. He posted some of his workout gear/exercises on Instagram and you can tell there’s a lot of strength training going on. I don’t think we’ll see a lot of new attacks from him next year but probably a push from the team coaching staff to be more aggressive with finishing/returning around the edge given that Boston will stretch defenses further with their shooting. additions.
Hi Brian, Thanks for having this Mailbag on our beloved Celtics. Do Payton Pritchard and Grant Williams have the potential to improve significantly, or is what we’ve seen of them pretty much what they’re capable of? In other words, will they play roughly the same number of minutes in the 2022-23 season as they did last season, or will the acquisitions of Brogdon and Gallinari significantly reduce their minutes? Thank Paul F
I really think they have the potential to improve. Pritchard in particular is someone to watch given how buried he was on the bench for the first half of last season. His defensive growth will be essential for him to gain minutes, but I think his ability to create for others will also be something to watch. His 3-point shooting is what it is (can’t expect it to be much better than 41%), but if he can serve as a better passer/creator/driver with that skill, that will force Ime Udoka to keep him in Boston. spin. There were some nice flashes of that with him early in the playoffs last year, but he fell flat in the NBA Finals, which gave him plenty to work with this summer.
The same goes for Grant Williams offensively. He just needs to become a better overall threat in that area beyond his 3-point shooting. The growth he has shown in this part of his game as well as his youth is a sign that he can add in other areas as well. Williams will be more important than ever this year, with the team likely wanting to squeeze more minutes for Al Horford. The Celtics will take back the numbers he produced in the regular season in a second, but the potential is there for him to do more.
B Robb, regarding Jaylen; I thought Jaylen could just be offered a SuperMax in 2024 by the Cs, that’s not the case, but right? He must be named to one of the 3 All NBA teams or DPOY (which seems like a stretch)… He may be offered a $123 Mill extension in October “plus incentives”, questions:
1) To what extent can these incentives be “achievable”? can they be “soft” and defined by the team so that they can be created thus keeping Jaylen well paid and close to other players at his level OR are they defined/revised by the league to be made harder to achieve, etc. ?
2) If the SuperMax isn’t doable with the Cs, even if he goes to Brooklyn for Durant, he won’t qualify for a max deal anyway, even if he could, there’s no average he made the whole NBA team or DPOY on that team and they wouldn’t be as good as the C’s, would they? Appreciate the time…Looking forward to your response. Thank you Neil
I wrote an article about Jaylen’s contract situation a few weeks ago here, where it says he has to meet the criteria (All-NBA, etc.) for superman to even be a possibility.
Regarding your first question, Brown’s incentives can be “soft” or hard to hit, it all depends on the team. They can be based on playing time, stats, games played, team stats, even weight goals, etc. These numbers cannot, however, exceed the contractual limits set by CBA rules.
For the second question, the only team Brown can get a supermax deal with is the Celtics. If he meets any of those criteria in the next two years, the Celtics will have the option of offering it to him. If he is traded to the Nets, the possibility of a supermax disappears since it can only be offered by a team that drafted or traded a player for him in his first four seasons. Brown probably wouldn’t want to play for a worse team in Brooklyn no matter if a deal is done like you said, but financially the benefit to him would be less with any deal.
Hello Brian. Who gets the last 3 spots on the list of Thomas, Jackson, Caboclo, Vonleh and Valentine? How much have Pritchard & Hauser been playing since they were 11th and 12th men, it seems? Which formations do you think Ime should try the most in camp / pre-season? What is your favorite scheduled match? —Eddy FB
I guess only two players get roster spots for this group. With the team deep in luxury tax, I bet they are keeping 15th place open to start the year for more flexibility with trades and to save money down the line. That could change if an injury or two occurs and additional bodies are needed, but 14 guys to start the year wouldn’t be a surprise at all. I would bet Vonleh and Jackson out of this group, but it’s a mix and it will also depend on how they fit into the system during camp and how they perform. No one has a big advantage. I bet Pritchard plays regularly, but Hauser will probably only see action when injuries/nights off arise. I would like to see more small lineups in pre-season to see if three-guard lineups are a good option for this group with the new staff. The home game against the Warriors in January is my best.
Could Brian Scalabrine, in his prime, be part of the current Celtics squad?? —Joe
Absolutely. Danny Ainge offered Scalabrine a five-year contract at the time! It was an overpayment, but he was solid in 2009 and 2010 during the regular season at least. This Scalabrine would fit perfectly as the 13th man on this list.
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