Boston Celtics could drive price up for Heat to retain key free agent

The Boston Celtics could drive up the price of this Miami Heat free agent this offseason Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
The Boston Celtics could drive up the price of this Miami Heat free agent this offseason Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports /

The Boston Celtics could be snakes in the grass this offseason when free agency begins July 1st, hoping for the chance to snag a free agent at a low price after the initial first wave of deals is signed.

Of course, the Cs don’t want to go down in infamy like the Los Angeles Lakers did in 2016 when they inked Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov to deals worth a combined $136 million, but they don’t even have the means to. Boston is limited to spending just their $6 million taxpayer’s MLE outside of veteran’s minimum deals.

While Boston Celtics President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens does have three different traded player exceptions to use, there’s no guarantee he will use them this offseason. The Evan Fournier TPE, created in the New York Knicks sign-and-trade for the Frenchman last summer, expires July 18th, and there may not be a deal worth using it on. The other two TPEs don’t expire until January and February, so there’s no rush to use them now if nothing worthwhile crops up.

With all that said, it should be noted that the MLTPE could be their most important means of adding a player to their Eastern Conference championship core this offseason.

According to NBC Sports Boston’s Chris Forsberg, the Cs could tie their MLTPE up with an offer sheet for the Heat’s restricted free agent wing Caleb Martin, which could ultimately tie up their cap space for a few days–while also driving the price for the NC State-turned-Nevada product–if Miami decides to match it:

"“If the Celtics don’t have any immediate plans for their MLE money, there’s worse ways than to float an offer sheet above Martin’s $2.1 million qualifying offer from the Heat. If nothing else, it forces a cash-strapped rival to use its own MLE to retain one of its young development projects.”"

The pros and cons of a Boston Celtics offer sheet for Caleb Martin

There is duality to the idea of signing Caleb Martin to a restricted free agent offer sheet this offseason.

On the pros side, there’s the obvious upside of making Miami spend more money on their own free agent, with less money to spend elsewhere to improve. After sneaking past the Heat in a seven-game Eastern Conference finals series, limiting their improvement is a win-now chess move. If they did sign him, though, they’d be getting a versatile wing that played in a career-high 60 games and starts, who averaged nine points, four rebounds, an assist and a steal in 22.9 minutes per game. Those stats are complemented by a 50.7% clip from the field overall and a 41.3% conversion rate from beyond the arc.

The primary con of signing Martin to an offer sheet would be missing out on other free agents with their one shot of adding a potential impact player whether Miami matches it or not. If Martin doesn’t get retained by the Heat, he’s now Brad Stevens’ one stab at a difference-maker. On the flipside, if he does get retained, the Cs might miss out on an unrestricted free agent that wanted to snag someone’s MLE before the money ran out across the league.

Next. WEEI proposed this absurd Kyrie Irving trade to Boston. dark