Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Boston Welcomes The Big Shillelagh

Did somebody wish for banner #18?

Big happenings in the NBA, as it has been reported by multiple sources that Shaquille O'Neal will be signing with the Boston Celtics for the upcoming season. ESPN somehow found time to break this story between Brett Favre highlights. O'Neal's deal is going to be for the veteran's minimum of $1.4 million per season, which helps the Celtics deal with the cap while adding some much needed size.

Last season with the Cleveland Cavaliers he averaged 12 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.2 blocks per game in 23.4 minutes. Look for him to play between 15-20 minutes per game for the C's in 2010-2011.

With Kendrick Perkins out until at least December, look for Shaq to get some meaningful time. While he has lost a step or five since he won his last title with the Heat in 2005-2006, he still has the size and skill set to make an impact. He will be abused on pick-and-rolls, but he will take up a lot of space in the lane and deter slashing-type guards and forwards from getting to the rim. He will be a non-factor in the offensive transition, but then again, neither was Perkins. This move makes the Celtics the clear second best team in the Eastern Conference, behind the South Beach Superfriends.

If you'd like to learn more about the finances behind this deal, read on.

SALARY CAP 101 - The NBA uses a "soft cap." There are lots of exceptions that allow teams to spend more than the salary cap amount. Most of the exceptions exist in order to foster loyalty between teams and players. It would be bad for the NBA if players changed teams on a yearly basis.

-The Larry Bird Exception allows teams to resign its own players (of 3 years or more) even if it puts them over the cap. The C's used this rule to resign Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.

-The Early Bird Exception allows teams to resign its own players of 2 or more years. This didn't apply to  any Celtics this offseason.

-The Non-Bird Exception (um, what?) allows teams to resign players that don't qualify under the Bird Exception or the Early Bird Exception even if that puts them over the cap. The C's used this to sign Marquis Daniels and Nate Robinson.

-The Rookie Exception lets teams sign their draft picks, even if it puts them over the cap. The Celtics signed Avery Bradley and are expected to sign Luke Harangody soon.

-The Mid-Level Exemption is given to teams that are over the salary cap after resigning their players under Bird Rights. It's a continuation of the effort to increase loyalty - if teams spend all their money resigning their own players, they won't have any cap space left to fill a void. So any team over the cap after signing all their returning players gets the average NBA salary ($5.7 million this year) to spend on any player or combination of players. The Celtics used their entire Mid-Level Exemption to sign Jermaine O'Neal.

-The Veteran's Minimum can be used to sign any veteran, even if a team is already over the cap. THIS is finally where Shaq comes in. The Shaq deal is incredibly impressive. Not because Shaq is still amazingly talented (he's not), but because he was willing to sign for the minimum. He's taking a lower salary because he wants to win. The Celtics are way over the cap, and could not have signed Shaq to any higher amount. But the C's got the best player they could get for the veteran's minimum salary.

1 comment:

  1. My Boston nickname for O'Neal:

    Old North Shaq.