The Celtics have signed Jason Terry.
Wait, you might say. This isn't news. Terry was introduced as a new member of the Celtics on Saturday, and reports of his acquisition leaked weeks ago. Way to be late to the party, dude.
Well, Terry may have been an unofficial member of the Celtics for some time, but with president of basketball operations Danny Ainge telling reporters Tuesday that the team will sign Terry using the $5 million midlevel exception, much of the details of the Celtics' payroll situation come to form.
Many of those details will not be encouraging to Celtics fans. Namely, signing shooting guard Courtney Lee, or any other impact free agent, just got a lot tougher.
The delay in announcing the specifics of Terry's deal was due to the Celtics' attempts to preserve the midlevel exception for Lee or a player of similar stature. One possible avenue was working out a sign-and-trade with the Mavericks, Terry's old team, but the Mavs' interest in such a deal probably decreased from slight to none after they agreed to a two-year deal with O.J. Mayo. Ainge therefore was left to ink Terry to the midlevel exception, which pays Terry $15 million over the next three years and effectively places a hard cap of a little more than $74 million on the Celtics' payroll.
As a result, the most the Celtics could offer Lee is the biannual exception of about $4 million over the next two seasons, considerably less than he could likely find elsewhere. A starting spot, which could be available if Avery Bradley's shoulder surgery keeps him out to begin the season, would be something of a lure for Lee, but not much of one given that Bradley would probably assume his spot once he gets healthy.
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