With Marcus Thornton and Tyler Zeller reportedly on their way to Boston, the Celtics could be forced to make more corresponding moves for financial reasons.
Thornton and Zeller, whom Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge netted as part of a three-team trade, are due to make roughly $10.3 million combined next season. That would put the Celtics above the $77 million luxury tax line, but only slightly.
The good news for the Celtics is, they have a trio of young guards on non-guaranteed contracts they can cut at no cost this fall. Phil Pressey, Chris Johnson and Chris Babb are on all non-guaranteed deals worth less than $1 million in 2014-15. The safest appears to be Pressey, the 5-foot-8 backup point guard who is set to make $816,000.
“The Celtics love Phil Pressey,” a source told Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald.
Babb and Johnson are not quite as beloved, although the Celtics like them, too. Johnson, who is technically a veteran due to an eight-game stint with the Memphis Grizzlies in 2012-13, is slightly more expensive at a little more than $915,000. Babb would make about the same as Pressey at around $816,000.
Of the two players acquired in Wednesday’s trade, Thornton makes up the lion’s share of the cost at about $8.6 million this coming season. If he ends up being flipped to another team, or someone else from the Celtics’ existing roster gets traded between now and October, Johnson and Babb could be saved from the chopping block.