New amnesty rule hurts Celtics' flexibility

New amnesty rule hurts Celtics' flexibility
December 2, 2011, 9:29 pm
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WALTHAM Already armed with a reduced mid-level exception compared to the previous collective bargaining agreement, you can add the new amnesty rule to the factors that will make it tough for the Boston Celtics to significantly bolster their roster for the 2011-2012 season.

In the yet-to-be-ratified CBA between the players and owners, teams can waive any player currently under contract and not have that player's salary count against their salary cap.

The Celtics don't have any serious candidates to be waived under the amnesty provision. And teams with salary cap space -- the C's are not one of those teams -- get first crack at players who are released via amnesty, which is why Danny Ainge doesn't expect the luxury tax-paying Celtics to acquire any players this route.

But here's where it gets tough for the C's.

The teams that have the salary cap flexibility to add players via amnesty plan to wait patiently for those players to become available. The particulars regarding the amnesty rule are among the B-list items yet to be ironed out yet.

But with teams with cap space keeping close tabs on potential free agents via amnesty, some of the top free agents won't get deals done as quickly as they probably should, despite training camp being just a week from today.

And if the big names like Tyson Chandler, Nene and Jamal Crawford are still on the free agent market, the players that the C's hope will slide down to their price range, won't yet become available.

It puts the Celtics in an even longer holding pattern, well aware that their patience would be put to the test having just a "mini" mid-level exception worth 3 million and veteran minimum contracts.

So when Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, told reporters on Thursday that he "hoped" to have 10 players in camp by next Friday -- the first day of training camp and free agency -- he wasn't kidding.

"Every year is a challenge; brings different challenges," Ainge said. "We don't have the same flexibility this summer to do some of those things. There's a lot of money out there, teams with cap space. So players are waiting for the big pay days. We have to be patient in this process."

And the new amnesty rule doesn't help.