The Celtics are currently carrying 12 players on standard contracts who are considered virtual locks to make their 15-man regular season roster and are preparing to hold an open competition for the final spots, according to Jay King of The Athletic.
Former first-round picks Noah Vonleh and Bruno Caboclo recently agreed to training camp contracts that will give them an opportunity to fight for roster spots this fall. According to King, two-way restricted free agent Brodric Thomas and former Celtics forward Justin Jackson are also considered “strong candidates” to join the competition for those roster openings.
Assuming Vonleh and Caboclo officially completed their reported deals and Thomas and Jackson sign contracts of their own, the Celtics would still have two spots available on their 20-man offseason roster, so they could further expand the competition.
Free agent swingman Matt Ryan, who is fully recovered from a summer ankle injury, appears less likely to return to Boston, despite finishing last season on a two-way deal with the team and playing for the Celtics’ Summer League squad in Las Vegas, says King.
Additionally, while it’s possible the Celtics will add at least one more frontcourt player to vie for a roster spot, the team isn’t expected to go after a veteran like DeMarcus Cousins or Dwight Howard, according to King, who says the front office seems to prefer younger players who have room to improve and are willing to accept modest roles. Currently, Luke Kornet projects to be a rotation player in the frontcourt, with two-way big man Mfiondu Kabengele providing depth.
The Celtics’ projected tax bill will be worth keeping in mind as the club auditions players for its open roster spots. If ownership is concerned about the rising cost of the roster, Boston could enter the season with just 14 players on standard contracts instead of 15, meaning only two spots would be up for grabs this fall instead of three.
As King observes, current two-way player JD Davison could also emerge as a candidate for a promotion if he looks good in the preseason, since rookie minimum contracts for a team’s second-round draftees cost less for tax purposes than identical contracts signed by undrafted free agents.