As part of our blog series prepping you all for the upcoming Celtic offseason, we now move onto the rest of the players with options. As a refresher, each of these blogs will include the information below pertaining to who’s under contract and who isn’t for the 2019-20 season.
Under Contract For 2019-20
- Gordon Hayward
- Marcus Smart
- Jayson Tatum
- Jaylen Brown
- Guerschon Yabusele
- Robert Williams
- Semi Ojeleye
- Kyrie Irving
- Al Horford
- Aron Baynes
- Terry Rozier (RFA)
- Daniel Theis (RFA)
- Marcus Morris Sr. (UFA)
- Brad Wanamaker (UFA)
The Front Court Stalwarts
Other than Kyrie Irving (I went over his impending free agency yesterday), the Celtics have two other important pieces with Player Options, Al Horford and Aron Baynes.
Last offseason Aron Baynes signed a 2 year 10.6 million dollar deal with a player option for the 2019-20 season worth 5.4 million. Reports out of Boston also hinted that it was one of the easiest negotiations of all time. Basically, Baynes walked in, Danny Ainge asked if he wanted to be here or not, Baynes obliged, someone threw out a salary number, and Baynes was like: “Right on, mate”. That was it, that was the negotiation.
Baynes was one of the Celtics most effective players last season as the team racked up a 32-19 record with Baynes in the lineup, and a pedestrian 17-14 record when he did not. Other than the record, with Baynes on the court opponents held a 105.7 offensive rating compared to a 108.7 offensive rating when he was not. Not only is he effective on the defensive end, but his ability to set good hard screens, lay his body on the line, and space the floor a bit (34.4% from three this year) make Baynes a huge part of what the Celtics do and it shows.
While it’s out of the Celtic’s hands wether he decides to opt in or not, it would be in their best interest for him to. The one red flag with Baynes is that he was crippled with injuries this season and for someone who’s entering their mid 30s, that has to be a concern going forward. Due to his battering ram style of play and utter disregard for his body on the court, it should be interesting to see how Baynes’ health progresses overtime. Either way, all signs look towards Baynes opting in and I’d be quite shocked if he opted out and went elsewhere. So do not fret, we should be gifted with at least another year of All of Australia.
Moving on, Al Horford also has a player option this season worth a little bit over 30 million dollars. I’d like to start out by saying this, the importance of Horford to this team is immeasurable as he does so many of the little things that make him the player he is. Things that don’t show up on the box score like defensive spacing, help defense, timely screens, and the ability to make the right basketball play every single time the ball is in his hands. It’s the type of thing where everything just looks far more sharp and calculated when Al is on the court.
While you can’t quantify most of Horford’s game, his numbers also tell the story. Check out how consistent he’s been in his 3 seasons in Boston.
Regular Season Numbers in Boston
Couple his consistency with an All-Star bid last season, a spot on last year’s All-Defensive Team (he might land on another this season), and a nose for the playoffs, you have quite the resume. He’s just the type of guy that you know exactly what you are going to get on a nightly basis and a player you can count on to step up his play in the big moments
Postseason Numbers in Boston
While Al does have the option to opt in, reports from Steve Bullpett of the Boston Herald suggest that Al would be willing to opt out in order to restructure his contract in order to get more years. A restructured deal for Al would be something like 3 years for 60 million or maybe even 4 years for 75 million depending on how long the Celtics are willing to extend him for. This will also give the Celtics an advantage as they’re dancing around the luxury tax and having Al sign at a discount yearly would help clear up some space.
It’s been noted how much Horford adores Boston right from the moment he signed his first deal. In an interview shortly after Horford signed in 2016 with Al’s father, Tito, we got a look into why he chose Boston.
Speaking with The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach, the former Bucks center said his son didn’t enjoy looking at an empty arena when the team was playing well.
“There wasn’t as much motivation for him when he saw all the empty seats when they were winning,” Tito Horford said. “He said to me, ‘Dad, when we were playing Boston, they were down 15 points and they were cheering their team like they were winning the game. They’re so into the game.’ This is special for us, especially for him.
This has rang true throughout his tenure in green and I’d expect Horford to either opt in, or opt out and restructure his deal depending on what happens with the rest of the roster.
Stay tuned this week as I dive into the rest of the Celtics offseason and give you the lowdown on all things green!