2019 NBA Offseason Salary Cap Digest: Boston Celtics

After making the Eastern Conference Finals in 2018 without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward in their lineup, the Celtics were widely viewed as the favorites to come out of the East in 2019. Instead, Boston struggled all season to live up to those preseason expectations, with fit and role concerns plaguing the team’s veterans and young players alike. Bringing back the same group seems unpalatable, so it could be a summer of change in New England.

Here’s where things currently stand for the Celtics financially, as we continue our Offseason Salary Cap Digest series for 2019:

Guaranteed Salary

Player Options

Team Options

  • None

Non-Guaranteed Salary

Restricted Free Agents

Unrestricted Free Agents / Other Cap Holds

Projected Salary Cap: $109,000,000
Projected Tax Line: $132,000,000

Offseason Cap Outlook

  • Realistic cap room projection: $0
  • With less than $65MM in guaranteed money on their books, the Celtics have a path to cap room, but unless they clean house, it’s hard to imagine them getting there. If Horford exercises his player option, that would make Boston an over-the-cap team. The team also must consider Baynes’ player option, Rozier’s cap hold, cap holds for three draft picks, and a new salary for Irving. Perhaps Rozier and/or Irving depart, but it seems likely that at least one of them is retained.
  • If we account for the Celtics’ six players on guaranteed contracts and their three first-round picks, the team could create up to $33.1MM in cap room. But that figure wouldn’t include any of Horford, Irving, Baynes, Rozier, Morris, or Ojeleye, making it a real long shot.

Cap Exceptions Available

  • Trade exception: $450,000 (expires 7/23/19) 3
  • Trade exception: $1,349,383 (expires 2/7/20) 3
  • Mid-level exception: $9,246,000 4
  • Bi-annual exception: $3,619,000 4


  1. Ojeleye’s salary becomes fully guaranteed after July 1.
  2. Larkin’s cap hold remains on the Celtics’ books because he hasn’t been renounced after going unsigned in 2018/19. He can’t be used in a sign-and-trade deal.
  3. The Celtics will lose these exceptions if they go under the cap to use room.
  4. These are projected values. If the Celtics are at risk of going into tax territory, they may forfeit the bi-annual exception and have to use the taxpayer mid-level exception ($5,711,000) rather than the full mid-level exception. In the event they use cap room, they’d lose these exceptions and would instead would gain access to the $4,760,000 room exception.

Note: Minimum-salary and rookie-scale cap holds are estimates based on salary cap projections and could increase or decrease depending on where the cap lands.

Salary information from Basketball Insiders and RealGM was used in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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20 thoughts on “2019 NBA Offseason Salary Cap Digest: Boston Celtics

  1. Codeeg

    There’s no way Rozier comes back to the Celtics. He bad mouthed not only Irving, but Hayward too. I understand he feels differently about his talent but you don’t respond to questions about teammates.

    • Connorsoxfan

      Not out of the question. I think he and IT share time at the point and he signs for a little under Smart’s money (8-10 per year?)

    • Guest617

      hayward as a starter did more harm than good – kyrie’s a shoot first pg and wasn’t a team player.

  2. This points out that Boston can do an AD trade without Horford (too important to be a matching contract) or Hayward (which increases the cost of the deal by making it a combination AD acquisition and Hayward salary dump). Tatum and either Smart or Brown plus some others can do it. The luxury tax bill upon re-signing KI will be massive. For at least one season, they’d have 4 max guys making about 123-24 mm.

  3. hiflew

    The more I think about it, the less likely I think Davis goes to Boston. I just don’t see the match, unless NO is super in love with Tatum. Which I think would be a big mistake.

  4. stretch123

    Boston should trade Smart, Tatum, Baynes and 2 first rounders for AD. Resign Kyrie and bring back Horford at a discount and then go out an get a 3 and D guy for the mid level.

    • stretch123

      Would also trade Hayward for Olynyk, James Johnson and Waiters. Would give them

      C Davis
      PF Horford
      SF Brown
      SG Waiters
      PG Kyrie

      C Olynyk
      C Theis
      PF Johnson
      SF/SG 3 and D Wing player
      PG Maybe bring back Isiah Thomas or Rondo at the backup PG.

  5. Z-A

    Let’s see… Kyrie leaves. Horford Opts In. Deplete the team resources trading for AD. Match Rozier b/c they have no choice.

  6. SuperSinker

    No Anthony Davis, no Kyrie Irving, no Kevin Durant.. what happened to the Celtics dynasty squad

  7. Stoop Down Low

    Looks to me problem is less Kyrie than Hayward who is a non-factor at $32 million per year. Does anyone expect that to change considerably regardless of Kyrie’s decision? Celtics are sitting on a real bow wow of a contract right there. And really, who cares what the backup PG thinks about anything?

  8. Dicka24

    It’s a very interesting offseason for the Celtics. They could go from having a core of Kyrie, Davis, Horford, Heyward, and fillers or end up going with their youth in Tatum, Brown, Smart, Rozier (maybe) and Williams with Heyward. The latter group might or might not have Horford, but if they don’t then they’d maybe have a max slot available with some maneuvering. Let’s not forget the three 1sts they have this year, as well as Memphis’ future 1st next year (top 6 protected) or in 2021 (unprotected). Unless Memphis somehow gets good in the next 2 years, the Celtics should have another high lottery pick in their future.

    Personally if you aren’t keeping Kyrie & adding Davis (who both agree to extend) then I’m going with the youth movement. In the NBA you win with studs, but you can’t mortgage your future for Davis if Kyrie bolts and Davis won’t commit to extending. As a C’s fan I’d live with Kyrie if it meant adding Davis. Talent like that is how you win. If not then hard pass on adding only one and risking the talented young players and assets the team have.

  9. tatumszn2018

    I dont think Celts get Davis. I hate when Ainges “plans” get leaked usually ends up no trade. Really think Knicks get him in a package revolved around RJ Barrett (No.3) pick and others. Best bet is wherever Rozier signs an offer sheet, Celts sign and trade him there. Perhaps Phoenix?

  10. Shaun owens

    I wonder how much Morris will get as a free agent? If they trade smart maybe bring back Avery Bradley.. I’m bias I really like Jason Tatum I won’t trade him but for Davis don’t you have to even just for one year . I mean if you win it all then who cares what you give up. I’m a Celtics fan but I don’t know how they win a championship in the next few season with golden state so maybe just go young .and wait it out

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