In past seasons, the Boston Celtics utilized the midlevel exception to bring in veteran bodies and typically overpaid for subpar results. The likes of Jermaine O'Neal and Jason Terry (and, to a slightly lesser degree, Rasheed Wallace) all failed to match the hype (and pay rate) for their signings.
Navigating a transition season, the Celtics went in a different direction this year, splitting the midlevel up and signing four players over the past nine months.
Boston utilized small slices of the midlevel to sign Phil Pressey, Vitor Faverani, Chris Johnson, and, most recently, Chris Babb.
ShamSports.com confirms what we assumed on Babb: He signed a Johnson-like four-year deal with future seasons not guaranteed. All four midlevel deals this season feature nonguaranteed money, allowing Boston to either develop young talent at a bargain rate or utilize those players as trade assets down the road. Hop HERE to read more on the benefit of nonguaranteed deals.
Heading into the summer, the Celtics will have assets (trade exceptions, sign-and-trade options, Keith Bogans' nonguaranteed contract) that will afford it the ability to add complementary talent without necessarily using the midlevel exception (which could dip in value if the team returns to taxpayer status). It seems teams are seeing additional value in using the midlevel in smaller chunks to facilitate the back end of a roster rather than cross their fingers in hopes of adding the sort of talent that solidifies the front end.