The Celtics have made it clear they have interest in keeping soon-to-be free agent Jonas Jerebko beyond the season, according to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald. Jerebko, who’s in the final season of a four-year, $18MM pact, just arrived in Boston from the Pistons in a deadline-day trade.
“Jerebko’s somebody that we’ve tried to get before,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said. “We like shooting bigs. I love guys that know how to play and can shoot [three-pointers] and have length. As a spacer at the four position, I’ve always liked him. And that’s what he does well is spread the floor. He can shoot the three and he can attack close-outs. He just knows how to play.”
The sixth-year veteran is eligible to sign an extension at any time between now and June 30th, though it seems more likely he’ll sign a new deal in July, since veteran extensions are rare. The Bill Duffy client has spoken of his time with the Celtics as an opportunity to showcase himself, though he’s been complimentary of the Boston organization.
The Celtics have his Bird rights, though retaining them past the end of the July Moratorium would entail a cumbersome $8.55MM cap hold that would make it tough for the Celtics to open significant cap room. Boston has about $40.4MM in salary commitments against a projected $68MM cap. However, that $40.4MM doesn’t include the team’s two first-round draft picks, nor does it take into account the club’s valuable trade exceptions, which would go away if the team dipped under the cap, so it’s debatable whether Ainge would opt to open cap space, as I examined.
Jerekbo is averaging 9.8 points and 4.5 rebounds in 15.5 minutes per game in four appearances so far with the Celtics, better production than the 5.2 PPG and 3.1 RPG he put up in similar playing time with Detroit before the trade. A deal that would give him a salary similar to the $4.5MM he’s making this season would be a stretch, but while it’s just my speculation, he’s probably established himself as more than a minimum-salary player.