New NBA Salary Cap Could Bode Well for Celtics

Since Rasheed Wallace
started hogging all the Celtics-related attention in the past week or
so, it’s been easy to forget about all the hoopla surrounding Rajon Rondo.

Now that the Celtics have a bona fide Big Four, will it become a Big
Five? Will Rondo be the final ingredient in the formula, or is he
dispensable?

Now that the NBA’s salary cap situation is changing, there’s some quasi-good news for
the Celtics: There aren’t a whole lot of teams out there that will have
the money to compete with the C’s in terms of offering a long-term deal
to a point guard like Rondo, once he becomes a free agent.

Boston essentially has the right of first refusal when that happens
at the end of the 2009-2010 season; they can match any offer another
team makes, exceed it, or simply pass on Rondo if his price is too high.

In 2008-09, Rondo played in 80 games, registering averages of 11.9
points, 5.2 rebounds, and 8.2 dimes per game. If he has that kind of
season next year — and stays healthy — he could be in the market for a
yearly salary close to $10 million.

A month ago, the story could have been different. The list of teams
that could potentially sign one of the league’s better young guards
could have been a lot longer, if only because the list of teams with
money to spend on a young player demanding pretty big money would have
been longer.

Now, teams don’t have quite the same luxury. The cap number isn’t
being lowered by much ($58.68 million in 2008-09, $57.7 million in
2009-10), but still. It means teams have to make concessions —
concessions that could cost them a new point guard.

Fortunately for the Celtics, though, it puts them in the perfect position to get what they want, or at least try to.