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The Lo Down: How We Get ‘Melo

Jeff Zelevansky, Getty Images

Part II of my “Celtics Dream Season” continues this week with analysis on how the Boston Celtics acquire Carmelo Anthony.

So you’ve read part I, Kevin Love is now a Celtic, and the Celtics are two key pieces closer towards their return to relevance. Love and Rondo are most likely enough to ensure a Playoff Berth in a weak Eastern Conference, but this is Boston (We don’t play for early round exits). It’s time for the second step of my Celtics Dream season… “Oh Melo, oh Melo, where are thou my Carmelo.”

With Carmelo Anthony opting out of his existing contract this past Sunday the “Dream Season” has taken a step toward becoming reality.

Carmelo Anthony has expressed a desire to win now. Realistically, we should also assume financial compensation is a consideration; by opting out, Carmelo Anthony declined a guaranteed salary of $24.33 million dollars. It should also be noted that the New York Knicks can offer Carmelo a maximum contract valued at $129 million dollars over 5 years. Speculation suggests the Bulls, Heat, Lakers, Rockets, Mavericks, Knicks, and Celtics all as potential suitors for Anthony’s services.

The New York Knicks are handcuffed with multiple bad contracts. They don’t have the payroll flexibility nor do they have prospects in development to anticipate fulfilling Anthony’s desire to win now (see chart below):

Even with Anthony’s salary removed from the cap, the Knicks are short a player and over the luxury tax. A new deal with the New York Knicks would amass a massive luxury tax penalty for the upcoming season.

The Heat, Lakers, and Mavericks are top media markets with winning heritage, but none make a lot of sense given the personnel. The primary concern, how do these teams find additional possessions to satisfy Carmelo Anthony in their existing offense; all teams previously mentioned already have a prolific scorer on their rosters.

The Chicago Bulls do pose a serious bidder for Carmelo Anthony, by exercising their amnesty clause on Carlos Boozer the Bulls would fall well below the salary cap and be able to offer Carmelo Anthony a sizeable offer; but nearly $50 million less than what the max contract the Knicks may offer Carmelo should he choose to resign with his existing team. This void between the Bulls offer and a potential Knicks offer helps define why the Celtics become interesting candidates to attract the services of Carmelo Anthony.

The Boston Celtics, can they win now? Well don’t forget thanks to part I; Kevin Love and Rajon Rondo wait to welcome a third piece with open arms. Rondo, Love, Anthony would be a formidable trio and better than many existing power groupings as their skillsets would complement one another. The next step would be allocating funds to make a significant offer to Carmelo Anthony. To do so we would require a sign-trade from the Knicks and perhaps use one of our available trade exemptions. See chart below which is updated to reflect the new roster created after a trade for Kevin Love.

 

It is important to recognize the following:

  • 2014-2015 Salary Cap : $63.2 mil projected / luxury tax $77.0 million projected
  • 2015-2016 Salary Cap : $66.5 million projected / luxury tax $81.0 million projected
  • The Celtics issue a qualifying offer to Avery Bradley $3.58 million
  • Bogans, Johnson, Babb, and Pressey are all released (contracts terminated)
  • Vitor Faverani is the player TBD from the previous article/trade (click here for reference)
  • We apply the $2.09 million dollar trade exception (via Courtney Lee) to the Kevin Love trade

This current roster leaves us with approximately $10 million below the cap, and a luxury tax threshold of $77 million; meaning an additional $19.8 million to dip into before we suffer any luxury tax penalties. In this age of the NBA and the new CBA agreement the NBA operates with a soft cap.

If the Knicks realize the loss of Carmelo Anthony is unavoidable, the wisest move would be to acquire some players in return via a Knicks / Celtics sign and trade. The sign and trade allows for the New York Knicks to gain assets while losing a player via free agency and the Celtics to navigate the soft-salary cap and dip into the luxury tax threshold thanks to Carmelo Anthony’s Bird Rights (Larry Legend just keeps on giving back to the Celtics!).

Here’s what I imagine a sign-trade may look like…

CELTICS RECEIVE: KNICKS RECEIVE:
Carmelo Anthony Future 1st Rd. Pick
Kelly Olynyk
Jeff Green*
*assuming Gerald Wallace is unmovable

 

How does this work in regards to balancing salaries? Well that’s where Captain Clutch, Paul Pierce comes storming out the tunnel. Thanks to last years’ trade to the Nets, the Boston Celtics are proud owners of a $10 million dollar trade exception. The exception allows the Celtics to take back $10 million more than they send out in player salaries within a trade, combined with this, the Celtics are able to give assets to the Knicks, while paying Carmelo Anthony a substantially larger salary than the competition. Current roster and salary projections look a little like this….

The timing of this trade is paramount, but we’ll get into that in Part III; till then dream comfortably Celtics fans…Carmelo Anthony welcome to Boston.

Boston, welcome your new “Big 3” – Rondo, Love and ‘Melo.

 

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