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Jeff Green with the Celtics last season.While acknowledging that basketball ramifications seem minor amidst news that Celtics forward Jeff Green will miss the 2011-12 season due to an aorta aneurysm that will require surgery next month, here's an overview of how Green's loss impacts Boston moving forward:
Green inked a one-year, $9 million deal with the Celtics at the start of the offseason. All deals are contingent on passing a physical, which Green failed because of his condition. The expectation is that his deal will be voided, but the Celtics will retain their rights to Green, who had been a restricted free agent, when he's able to return.
Even without Green's contract on the books, the Celtics will not receive any salary cap relief. The Celtics were on the books for roughly $85.6 million for 14 contracts. Shedding $9 million from that not only leaves Boston still well over the salary cap ($58 million), but also the luxury tax threshold (approximately $70 million).
The Celtics could apply for an injury exception for Green, but that would require them to not only pay Green his $9 million this season, but also up to 50 percent of his salary ($4.5 million) for a replacement. So that would cost the team upwards of $27 million giving that tax-paying teams pay dollar for dollar over the threshold. Boston would be pushing a $90 million payroll and $40 million luxury tax bill by applying for an exception.
Boston, instead, will likely have to settle for examining a thin market for free agent swingmen willing to join the team on a veteran minimum contract. Paul Pierce, the team's starting small forward, is currently nursing a right heel injury, while backup Marquis Daniels is coming off spine surgery this summer (his 2010-11 season ended with a freak on-court injury last February) and Sasha Pavlovic is nursing an injured left hand. Neither Pierce nor Pavlovic is expected to be sidelined for an extended stretch (though Pierce will not play in Sunday's exhibition opener in Toronto, while both sat out Friday's intrasquad scrimmage at the TD Garden), but the team is already thin at that spot.
The loss of Green also takes away maybe the team's top bench option, putting additional pressure on newcomers like Brandon Bass, Chris Wilcox, and Keyon Dooling to fill the scoring void Green leaves behind.