New amnesty rule hurts Celtics' flexibility

600300.jpg

New amnesty rule hurts Celtics' flexibility

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.

Celtics could score with a three-year deal for Gallinari

Celtics could score with a three-year deal for Gallinari

The Celtics' two main targets in free agency are expected to be Gordon Hayward and Blake Griffin. But what if neither signs here . . . or what if the C's have other plans? This week, we'll look at some of  'The Other Guys' who might interest the Celtics: TODAY: Denver's Danilo Gallinari.

BOSTON -- It seems Utah's Gordon Hayward has been at the top of the Celtics' offseason wish list forever.
 
And not too far behind him, you find Los Angeles Clippers' free-agent-to-be Blake Griffin.
 
Coming off the heels of landing the second-best free agent a year ago in Al Horford, the Celtics are feeling pretty good about this free-agent thing after having had little luck in previous years at landing the best available players.

MORE ON FREE AGENCY

 
But if Hayward and Griffin decide to stay with their respective teams or take their talents elsewhere, what will the Celtics do?
 
The Celtics will have to shift their attention to ‘The Other Guys' section of free agency, which won't move the needle like the addition of Hayward or Griffin would. Still, these players would make good additions to a Celtics team that's clearly on the rise.
 
We start off with Denver's Danilo Gallinari.
 
If you recall, Gallinari has been a player of interest for Boston as recently as the last trade deadline. However, the Nuggets were battling for the eighth and final playoff spot and had just traded for Mason Plumlee to help solidify their interior while Gallinari was having one of the best shooting seasons of his eight-year NBA career.
 
The idea of moving him at the trade deadline didn't make a lot of sense for the Nuggets, and the assets Boston would have had to come up with to match his $16.1 million contract made acquiring him a hefty cost. To be candid, it wasn't worth it then. But now?
 
WE LIKE HIM BECAUSE . . .
 
He's available. Shortly after opting out of his $16.1 option to become a free agent, he made it clear he wasn't necessarily doing it to sign a longer-team deal with Nuggets.
 
"Nuggets are not my first choice, but they are exactly at the same level of the other teams," Gallinari told reporters back in June. "Denver's advantage is that they can offer me a five-year contract while other franchises can offer me a four-year deal. Nuggets are at the same level of others."
 
Gallinari can score, and does so in a variety of ways. He averaged 18.2 points per game last season, the second-highest scoring average of his career. At 6-foot-10 and 225 pounds, the 28-year-old has the kind of multi-positional skillset that Brad Stevens could easily plug in and not miss a beat.
 
Gallinari has spent most of his NBA career playing both forward positions. But in this new age, it's not a stretch to see Gallinari used as a "stretch big" at center whose inside-outside game has the potential to make him a nightmare for teams to try and guard in Boston.
 
And while his perimeter game certainly gets a lot of attention, Gallinari can score from various points on the floor. He was one of just nine players in the NBA this past season to average at least five 3-point attempts and six free-throw attempts per game. The company he's keeping in that category includes league MVP Russell Westbrook of Oklahoma City; Houston's James Harden; could-be Celtics teammate Isaiah Thomas; Portland's Damian Lillard; New Orleans center DeMarcus Cousins; San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard; NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant, and Toronto's Kyle Lowry.
 
They have all appeared in the All-Star game at least two of the last three seasons, which speaks to how impressive and rare it is for a shooter like Gallinari to also manage to find his way to the free-throw line a lot.
 
NOT CRAZY ABOUT . . .
 
His track record with injuries. I'm not gonna lie. It absolutely scares the crap out of me. He has eight seasons under his belt and has failed to play 63 or more games in all but two of them. That includes the lockout-shortened 2012 season, but that doesn't take away from the concerns that any team would have when it comes to Gallinari's longstanding track record of injuries.
 
So durability is not something you can bank on with this guy.
 
You love his versatility as a scorer, but he tends to take the first decent look rather than probe the defense for a better shot for him or a teammate.
 
According to nba.com/stats, 42.8 percent of his shots were catch-and-shoot attempts while 55.2 percent of the shots he takes come without a single dribble taken. For 91.7 percent of his shots taken, the amount of time he touches the ball before he launches is six seconds or less.
 
He's great at finishing around the rim, which you can see in him connecting on 64 percent of his shots in the restricted area.
 
But that number drops to 41.9 percent when he's shooting in the paint but outside of the restricted area.
 
And while the second-largest number of shot attempts for him last season (208) were mid-range attempts, he made just 38 percent of those shots with a decent number of those shots contested or forced.
 
IN CONCLUSION . . .
 
While Gallinari's durability is certainly worth questioning, his toughness and grittiness as a player isn't. He's physical and is one of the NBA's better players when it comes to finding ways to create space, whether it's with a jab-step for a Paul Pierce-like fade-away jumper, or using his footwork to get a defender off balance and out of position and then make him pay with a drive to the basket for a score or a foul. The real concern when he's on the floor comes on defense, where he had a defensive rating of 109.4 last season. Just to put that in perspective, the only Celtics with a higher defensive rating this past season were Demetrius Jackson (117.8) and Jordan Mickey (116.1), who played a combined 30 games for Boston last season.
 
He's a mixed bag of talent for sure. But as a consolation prize for falling short in the Gordon Hayward/Blake Griffin sweepstakes, he's not a bad addition.
 
SUGGESTED PRICE TAG

Three years and $60 million, with a player option for Year 3
 
WHY?

I'm sure Gallinari could probably squeeze another year and a few million more dollars from another team, but here's why a three-year deal makes a lot of sense for him.

If he wants one more big payday after this contract, he has to show 1) he can be healthy for a couple seasons and 2) he can help a team win. He'll get both opportunities playing for the Celtics.
 
And remember, he's an eight-year veteran. So after two seasons he would qualify for a max salary that would be up to 35 percent of the salary cap, which is why you give him the option for the third season.
There's no guarantee he would play well enough to get that, obviously. But at least it would be an option at his disposal, which is what you would sell him on as a reason for not getting a fourth year.

For the Celtics, he adds another scorer to the roster who can play multiple positions. And from a monetary standpoint, getting him for no more than three years as opposed to four, makes him a lot more attractive if the Celtics decide to go in another direction and trade him.

Vertical ranks Gordon Hayward No. 4 free agent; Blake Griffin sixth 

Vertical ranks Gordon Hayward No. 4 free agent; Blake Griffin sixth 

Longtime NBA executive Bobby Marks has released his rankings of 2017 NBA free agents on the Vertical. Neither of the Celtics’ top perceived targets rank in the top three. 

Gordon Hayward, who’s been tied to the C’s given his time playing under Brad Stevens at Butler, is No. 4. Clippers power forward Blake Griffin is No. 6. 

The top three is made up of two Golden State stars who won’t be going anywhere in Kevin Durant (No. 1) and Steph Curry (No. 2), as well as 32-year-old Clippers point guard Chris Paul. 

Marks noted the extra cash Hayward would pull in by staying in Utah ($44 million) and said that teams would have to rely heavily on their medical departments when determining how to proceed with the oft-injured Griffin. 

For the full list, click here.