As the Boston Celtics entered 2019 NBA free agency, they were left with multiple question marks spread across the roster, and a number of interesting storylines as well. The two biggest topics included the expectation that both Kyrie Irving and Al Horford would leave town, opening the team up to add a few new faces.
Without Irving and Horford, it means there’s additional salary cap space available, and multiple free agency targets were mentioned early and often. Of the names linked to the Celtics, the conversation between the team and former Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker apparently escalated quickly.
As The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported, Walker agreed to a four-year, $141 million contract with the Celtics.
Walker will step in as the replacement for Irving, and it’ll shift Boston’s salary cap outlook, along with their offseason needs. We’re going to take a dive into the team’s current cap situation entering free agency, and evaluate how much money the expected signing of Walker could leave the team.
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Celtics’ Salary Cap Space: How Much Money for NBA Free Agency?
According to Spotrac, the Celtics entered free agency with the seventh-most money in terms of practical cap space available at $34,223,115. Obviously, this number can fluctuate a bit one way or the other, but when evaluating the reported deal for Walker with the team, it will put a big dent in it.
We’ll update the exact structure of the guard’s deal with the Celtics once it’s revealed, but based on the averages, it comes in at $35.25 million in annual salary. Once the official terms are posted we’ll have a better idea of Boston’s cap outlook, but they’ll obviously work the deal in a way that allows the team to still address a few needs at other positions.
Beyond that, as The Athletic’s Shams Charania also reported on Monday, the team came to terms on a deal with former Portland Trail Blazers center Enes Kanter on a two-year, $10 million contract.
Walker will be the Celtics’ marquee free agent signing while Kanter was a strong addition to the frontcourt. From here,the rest of their moves will likely be in the form of cost-effective additions or inexpensive role players.
Celtics Free Agency Outlook: Team Needs
The Celtics current roster features a talented returning core of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward and Marcus Smart. They also still have Semi Ojeleye, Robert Williams and Guerschon Yabusele, along with a few intriguing rookies in Romeo Langford, Carsen Edwards and Tremont Waters.
Currently, the Celtics still have an obvious need at center and power forward. While Williams may take a step forward in 2019-20 and Ojeleye is a solid rotational player, neither is expected to be ready to start. Fortunately, there are a few talented big men on the open market.
As for the power forward position, a few cost-effective additions could come in the form of options like Markieff Morris and Kenneth Faried. How much the Celtics can spend on their frontcourt will depend on Walker’s deal and a few other aspects, so the early stages of free agency will be worth watching.