Anybody who has paid attention to the Boston Celtics knows flexibility currently counts as one of Danny Ainge’s top priorities. His offseason acquisitions were intended to upgrade the Celtics talent level, yes, but also to keep the team in position to capitalize on any future opportunities.
Though Jae Crowder signed for five years, the design of his $35-million contract will give Boston — you guessed it — a bit more flexibility next summer. Interestingly, the amount the forward will earn dips in the second season of his deal before rising again during the following years. Basketball Insiders shared the details for all five seasons of Crowder’s contract:
Season 1: $6,796,117Season 2: $6,286,408Season 3: $6,796,117Season 4: $7,305,825Season 5: $7,815,533
In addition to Crowder’s neat pact, David Lee and Perry Jones are both on expiring contracts. Jonas Jerebko and Amir Johnson signed deals that each contain one guaranteed season and a team option for a second year. All of it is meant to give Ainge more options and room to maneuver as he plans for the summer of 2016. Even in a market that should feature a slew of teams with spending money, the Celtics could have a heap of cap space to consider using.
After a handful of stars that could all stay put, the 2016 free agency class is actually considered weak, and Boston will need to make decisions on Tyler Zeller, Jared Sullinger and Perry Jones, who will all be due for new contracts. Still, with the new TV money boosting the cap to unprecedented levels, the Celtics could have a mountain of salary cap space, with only three guys (Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and Isaiah Thomas) already committed on non-rookie deals. Add Boston’s stash of 2016 draft picks — which could reasonably result in two lottery picks, another first-rounder and five second-rounders — and the Celtics should have an important summer next year.
During Monday’s press conference to introduce the offseason acquisitions, Ainge said of Jerebko, “We’re excited to have Jonas back for a year.” After a quick pause, Ainge hastily added, “Or two. We’ll see.” It almost came off as an unintended jab at Jerebko, but in reality the forward must understand his future beyond this season isn’t known. A lot could shift for the Celtics by this time next year. Flexibility doesn’t necessarily mean big changes are coming, but every bit of space could help Ainge if the right possibility comes along.

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