The Boston Celtics did not hand out any marquee contracts this offseason. The team chased several big names, but ultimately came up short and opted to re-sign in-house talent. They rewarded Jae Crowder with a five-year, $35 million contract while everyone else got team-friendly deals. Now, they could be handing out one more contract before the season begins which could put other players in jeopardy.
According to CSNNE.com's A. Sherron Blakely, the Celtics are negotiating a long-term contract with Tyler Zeller that could be coming in the next few days. The Celtics are hungry for size and looking for big man depth after not signing LaMarcus Aldridge or Greg Monroe. The 7-foot center is now their main target and Blakely believes a contract could get done prior to the October 31 deadline. Drafted back in 2012, Zeller is one of three players eligible for a contract this offseason and might be the only one to actually sign his name on a new deal.
With salary cap increasing next season, the Celtics are aiming to ink young players to long-term contract now as they will be viewed as under-market next year when everyone has more money to spend. Zeller is on his way to becoming a starting center, but is he worth the four-year, $40 million deal he would likely demand in these talks? Boston might be inclined to give it to him considering how much the cap will increase next offseason.
Does the contract to Zeller mean Jared Sullinger's seat on the trade block once again heats up? The Celtics have yet to show a real commitment to Sullinger as he is another of the three players available for a new deal. With no negotiations being reported, Sullinger contracts to get linked to trade deals. According to Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com, he could be involved in a trade deal for Markieff Morris with the Phoenix Suns.
Pelton makes the case that Morris is a better upgrade than Sullinger and the Celtics have the assets and draft picks to get a deal done quickly. Morris could be a valuable player for the future as Sullinger will demand a big contract next offseason. Considering his inconsistencies and injury history, getting Morris on an affordable and manageable contract could be the best decision for Boston. That will create a solid core group of players with Marcus Smart and Isaiah Thomas.