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Rapid Reaction: C's shuffle roster

9/25/2014

Rapid reaction after the Boston Celtics shipped Keith Bogans to the Cleveland Cavaliers, then waived Chris Johnson and Chris Babb while shuffling their roster before the start of training camp next week:

Shuffle 1: Bogans to Cleveland: The Celtics sent the long-since-excused Bogans and his bloated $5.3 million nonguaranteed contract, along with a pair of second-round picks they were never going to see (top-55 protected picks from Sacramento in 2015 and 2017), to the Cavaliers in exchange for Dwight Powell, Erik Murphy, John Lucas III and Malcolm Thomas, along with Cleveland's 2016 and 2017 second-round picks. What exactly did Boston get out of the deal?

1. A new $5.3 million trade exception for Bogans. The Celtics absorbed Powell, Murphy and Thomas via minimum salary exceptions and thus needed only to use a small traded-player exception to take on Lucas' nonguaranteed $1.6 million deal. The guess here is they used a $2.1 million exception generated from sending Courtney Lee to Memphis in January.

2. Powell and Murphy (who played his high school ball at St. Mark's in Southborough, Massachusetts) should both get looks at training camp. Powell is an intriguing young power forward despite having been traded twice already after being selected by Charlotte at No. 45 in June's draft. Murphy has a small guarantee ($100,000) and faces long odds to make the regular-season roster unless another move creates additional space.

3. With Cleveland expected to contend for titles in the coming seasons, the two second-round picks Boston acquired will likely be among each draft's final selections. Nonetheless, assets are assets and the Celtics added to their pick surplus, which could aid future moves.

Shuffle 2: Babb, Johnson waived: Following the Cleveland swap, the Celtics essentially had 23 players under contract, and that didn't include the still-pending signing of Evan Turner. Boston started its trim by waiving the nonguaranteed contracts of Johnson and Babb. Johnson is the more surprising cut of the two, but Boston's overstocked roster forced the team's hand. It will be interesting to see if another team picks up Johnson, whom the Celtics loved for his work ethic. Babb could always land back with Maine of the D-League if no other NBA or overseas opportunity emerges.

What's next? The Celtics still stand at 21 players for the moment and have expressed a desire to ink Turner before the start of camp next week. It seems likely the team will waive the nonguaranteed contracts of Lucas and Thomas, then be at 20 players for camp (including Turner). There's still some shuffling to do as Boston now has 16 guaranteed contracts for the 2014-15 season and can only carry 15 bodies into the regular season. How can Boston trim?

1. The team can clear three bodies by waiving camp invitees Tim Frazier, Rodney McGruder and Christian Watford (the trio is likely to end up as affiliated players with the Red Claws).

2. Boston will still have to make two more cuts, and Murphy will seemingly have to shine at camp in order to stick around. The Celtics will need some additional maneuvering in order to avoid having to eat a guaranteed deal before the start of the regular season (and Powell's $500,000 salary will be the lowest on the team by a fair margin).

Salary in focus: For the sake of roster/salary projection, let's say the Celtics don't make any more moves before camp beyond waiving both Powell and Murphy (which would cost them $600,000 in guaranteed salary). Boston is committed to roughly $72.3 million, plus whatever Turner ultimately signs for. That likely means Boston will soon be under the luxury-tax line of $76.8 million, providing it increased flexibility moving forward this season.