The Celtics are leaning toward fully guaranteeing the contract of Amir Johnson for the 2016/17 season, Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe reports (via Twitter). If Johnson remains on the roster past July 7th his salary of $12MM would become locked in, but if the team parts ways with him prior to that date there would be no financial commitment on its part. The original date for Johnson’s guarantee to kick in was the 3rd, but the two sides agreed to extend the deadline, Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com tweets. The team also reached an identical arrangement with Jonas Jerebko, who is scheduled to earn $5MM next season if he remains on the roster past the 7th, Goodman relays.
Boston is desperately seeking to add a star-caliber player to its roster this summer and cutting ties with Johnson and/or Jerebko could free up valuable cap flexibility for a run at one. As it currently stands, the Celtics are expected to open free agency with approximately $18.8MM in cap space, but could free up enough room to float a max offer to a player like Kevin Durant if the duo were off the books. Pushing back the guarantee dates for both players will allow Boston more flexibility to test the market without stripping down its roster unnecessarily were executive Danny Ainge to strike out in his free agent pursuits.
Johnson made 79 appearances for Boston last season, including 74 starts. He averaged 7.3 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.1 blocks in 22.8 minutes per outing. The high-energy big man shot .585/.233/.570 from the field on the campaign. Jerebko, 29, saw action in 78 games, all as a reserve, and averaged 4.4 points and 3.7 rebounds in 15.1 minutes per night. He shot .413/.398/.782 from the field.