Boston Celtics: How trading for Al Horford can help Cs sign superstar

Apr 2, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) and Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) jump for a rebound during the first quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 2, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) and Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) jump for a rebound during the first quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports /

With Kemba Walker and his $37 million price tag in 2022-23 gone and Al Horford in, the Boston Celtics have positioned themselves to be a prime free-agent destination in the summer of 2022. They will have more than enough cap space to extend Marcus Smart and Robert Williams while signing a max star. This article will take you through Boston’s cap status ins and outs and who specifically they can target.

TPE aside here is where the Celtics sit from a financial view. To begin, the Celtics freed up approximately $9 million in cap space this season by swapping Walker for Horford. That allows them to use the remaining $11 million on the Hayward TPE and puts them far away from the tax. Boston would be better off using the TPE on an expiring contract, so their books remain clean for the summer of 2022.

If they do so, the only guaranteed money on their books would be Jayson Tatum’s $30.4 million, Jaylen Brown’s $27.2 million, Al Horford’s $14.5 million, and Demetrius Jackson’s 93k, which would leave a $34.1 million max slot via @KeithSmithNBA on Twitter. Realistically, those won’t be the only contracts on the books.

If Fournier resigns, his money will be there; if Smart and Williams get extended, their money will be there, and if any of the Celtics’ rookies and second-year players are still around, their money will be there too. Boston will still have well over $20 million to spend even with all those moving parts, which could balloon back up to $34.1 million with a few moves. With that said, let’s take a look at a few names that the C’s might land with this newfound financial freedom.

Boston Celtics superstar target #1: Steph Curry

After winning the NBA scoring title and finishing top-3 in the MVP race while simultaneously not making the playoffs, Curry has one more year on his five-year $201 million contract. Curry likely remains with the Warriors for the rest of his career, but his good relations with Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum and the status of Golden State’s future might give the C’s a chance to land the future HOFer.

They would have to free up the fullest extent of that $34.1 million, which means Smart and Fournier could be in the wind, but if it means getting the best shooter of all time, best point guard in the NBA, and perfect player to put beside Tatum and Brown, then it’s worth it.

Boston Celtics superstar target #2: Bradley Beal

The six-foot-three All-NBA guard has given eight years of his NBA career to the Washington Wizards, and they are yet to make it out of the second round. Beal has spoken of his loyalty to the club, but at some point, he will have to decide whether he wants to take the high road or team up with another star.

Assuming he opts out of his $37 million player option next summer, the Celtics would presumably be at the top of Beal’s list of destinations. Since middle school, he has known the team’s best player, Jayson Tatum, even babysitting him at times. Now, they train together every summer and have a well-documented relationship.

Beal would fit nicely next to Boston’s elite wings and form one of the best big threes in the league between Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. At 27 years old, he is likely to demand the fullest of Boston’s $34.1, which means Smart and Fournier would likely be dealt for pieces to surround the big three. Once again, it’s a necessary sacrifice if it means bringing one of the best scorers in the NBA.

There other names such as James Harden, Kevin Durant, or Chris Paul, but these two are the most likely to give the Boston Celtics a shot at signing him. If the Cs miss both, they can still retain Smart, Fournier and have $20+ million to sign players to fill out the roster. They could chase Thaddeus Young, Will Barton, Joe Ingles, or Robert Covington while they wait for 2023 when Joel Embiid, Draymond Green, and Christian Wood become available.

The number one priority for the Boston Celtics should be sustaining financial stability. If they whiff on Beal and Curry, they should not do what they did in the summer of 2019 and max out a guy that would not help them win a title as they did with Walker.

They need to remain patient as they wait for a star to walk through the door rather than forcing one through. There is a chance they win a title with just Brown and Tatum, but while they wait, they should keep the roster well stocked with role players and trade assets, so when the time comes, they can pounce on a disgruntled star.

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