The Celtics haven’t made a big splash in NBA free agency for the past few summers, primarily due to a lack of salary-cap space. After Danny Ainge’s wheeling and dealing this season, Boston will have significant room to spend this July and will reportedly be eyeing some major moves.
Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders reports that the Celtics will “swing for the fences” in free agency, targeting a number of prominent names, including Kevin Love and Greg Monroe, as well as some long shots such as Marc Gasol, Kawhi Leonard, and Jimmy Butler.
The Celtics may not even have a chance to make a run at Love. The Cavaliers’ power forward told the Cleveland Plain Dealer back in January that he had no plans to opt out of the final year of his contract next season and become an unrestricted free agent.
Gasol, Leonard, and Butler are all likely to re-sign with their current teams as well, if they hit the market at all. Leonard and Butler are restricted free agents, so the Spurs and Bulls can match any offer that either player receives.
The most realistic name on this list for Celtics fans to keep an eye on is Monroe. The Pistons’ power forward will be an unrestricted free agent and Boston has been rumored to have interest in him for years.
The Celtics will have the necessary salary-cap space (over $20 million) to make a max offer to any of the players mentioned above. The C’s will also have a bevy of future first-round picks, and two sizable trade exceptions, that will enable the team to explore sign-and-trade deals with any players on the open market.
Whatever route the Celtics end up taking, look for Ainge to be active with the team’s new-found flexibility. And those fireworks co-owner Wyc Grousbeck talked about last summer? They may be surfacing in July…just a little later than most expected.