The Boston Celtics acquired David Lee in a trade for Gerald Wallace and heading into the season the team is set up for 2016 free agency, as they have a ton of cap space and could sign two max players next year and names like Kevin Durant, Eric Gordon and Chris Paul could be potential targets if the team trades Isaiah Thomas this year.
The Celtics had hoped to woo some major free agents this summer, but after GM Danny Ainge could not convince anyone to sign, it looks like the plan is delayed for one more year. According to ESPN.com, the Celtics hoped to sign either Kevin Love, Greg Monroe or LaMarcus Aldridge in free agency this summer, as they felt they were a prime destination after coming off of a surprise playoffs appearance.
The Celtics are rebuilding, but with a strong young roster intact and a ton of cap space in the weak eastern conference, Ainge thought he could snag a major player. The team reportedly wanted Love the most, but he opted to sign back in Cleveland, while Aldridge and Monroe went to the Spurs and Bucks. Losing Monroe was a tough one, as the Bucks are in a similar situation and Monroe picked Milwaukee over signing elsewhere. Ainge is not deterred though, as Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald reports the team could be very active next summer.
According to NESN.com, Bulpett reported that the Celtics are in position to have around $50 million in cap space next summer depending on what the new salary cap total is, which is expected to rise to around $90 million. The Celtics could be in a perfect spot to make moves, as they have been rebuilding and have some young players developing at the right time.
The team made the playoffs last year and Bulpett writes that with only Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas on guaranteed deals and Marcus Smart, Kelly Olynyk and James Young on team options, they will have flexibility to sign players. Thomas could be a trade target come next year, as he is on a decent contract and could be attractive to teams. Ainge likes Thomas, but he could be swayed by the right deal.
While that doesn't mean the team will be guaranteed to sign someone the stature of Durant, Paul or Gordon, it gives the team a chance to make it happen. Even if the Celtics miss out on all of those players, having cap space could allow the team to make trades to upgrade the roster. The team did all this once upon a time with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen and now they could try again. Durant is expected to stay in Oklahoma City or go to Washington, but the young talent and cap space could convince him to consider Boston.
The Celtics made one major addition with the trade for David Lee, as ESPN reports that Lee has been traded by the Warriors to the Celtics. The Celtics gave up Gerald Wallace to get the deal done and now Lee comes in with a $15 million salary, but an expiring deal. That plays into what the Celtics are doing for next summer and it also gives the team a player that could end up as a productive piece for this season.