Will the Celtics be cap-strapped?
The team currently has six players under contract -- Ray Allen, Avery Bradley, Kevin Garnett, Jermaine O'Neal, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo -- owed a total of $64.37 million and have made a qualifying offer of about $6 million to restricted free agent Jeff Green and need to pay their two draft picks as well.
League sources told ESPN.com they expect the salary cap to remain at $58 million, which means the Celtics will have to get creative to make room.
Just how creative will they need to be to bring back Glen Davis or go after a prominent free agent? Many of those details are still a little hazy. But here are some key points that we know so far:
* Expect the league to allow teams to begin negotiating with free agents somewhere between Dec. 1-4. David Stern has said publicly that the goal is to allow teams to begin signing free agents on Dec. 9, which is also the target for the beginning of training camps. With games scheduled to start on Dec. 25, that means teams will do most of their work in the first week of free agency.
* Teams pay $1 for every $1 their salary is above the luxury-tax threshold in 2011-12 and 2012-13. Starting in 2012-13, teams pay an incremental tax that increases with every $5 million above the tax threshold ($1.50, $1.75, $2.50, $3.25, etc.). Teams that are repeat offenders (paying tax at least four out of the past five seasons) have a tax that is higher still -- $1 more at each increment ($2.50, $2.75, $3.50, $4.25, etc.).
* Taxpaying teams have a smaller midlevel exception, can acquire less salary in trade, and cannot use the biannual exception. Starting in 2013-14, teams more than $4 million above the tax level cannot receive a player in a sign-and-trade transaction.
* For the first two years of the 10-year agreement -- with either side possessing the option to exit the CBA after six seasons -- tax-paying teams still will be eligible to do sign-and-trade deals. That opens the door for impending star free agents such as Chris Paul, Dwight Howard and Deron Williams to be moved to big-market teams such as the Lakers, Knicks and Mavericks that are already over the salary cap.
In the final eight years of the agreement, teams can still make sign-and-trade deals as long as the math does not put them more than $4 million into the luxury tax.
* One player can be waived prior to the start of any season (only one player can be amnestied during the agreement, and contracts signed under the new CBA are not eligible). The salary of the waived player will not count toward the salary cap or luxury tax. Teams with cap room can submit competing offers to acquire an amnestied player (at a reduced rate) before he hits free agency and can sign with any team.
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