The Boston Celtics withdrew Jeff Green’s qualifying offer, making the young hybrid forward an unrestricted free agent who could theoretically be signed right now by any NBA team, but likely won’t considering he’s having heart surgery two days from now on Jan. 9.
That’s because the Boston Celtics, in a move that was not made public, withdrew Green’s qualifying offer in mid-December, right around the time he failed his physical and had his one-year, $9 million contract voided. The move means Green is now an unrestricted free agent. Had the offer not been withdrawn, and the Celtics were under no obligation whatsoever to do so, Green would have been a restricted free agent, with the Celtics able to match any offer he might get from another team. …
From the Celtics’ point of view, the withdrawal of the qualifying offer is a bit of a gamble in that it could lead to the departure of the most significant piece of February’s trade that sent Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City. That would leave the Celtics with nothing to show from the deal, save for a first-round draft pick that belongs to the Clippers and is protected over the next few years.
Then again, Green’s NBA future, at present, is murky. And the change in his free-agent status puts Green in the same contractual position he would have been in had he been able to play out this season. Both sides knew that not only would Green be an unrestricted free agent next summer by taking the one-year offer, they also knew he could not be traded without his permission.
Also, the Celtics will still be able to offer Green a longer, more lucrative deal than any other team, either to re-sign him or sign him as part of a sign-and-trade deal, which is what they did last month with Glen Davis.
ESPN’s Peter May noted that it may have been “nothing more than a goodwill gesture,” but I can’t imagine Danny Ainge giving even his own brother or sister a goodwill gesture if he thought it would hurt the Boston Celtics. The move was more likely done for the following reason:
Falk added that the new collective bargaining agreement rules also may have played a part in the Celtics’ thinking as well.
I’m not yet an expert on the new collective bargaining agreement, but I imagine that withdrawing the qualifying offer lessens the salary cap hold the Celtics will have as long as Green remains a free agent. That would give them more flexibility during the free agency period, while their abundance of cap space should assure that the team can still sign Green should it choose to do so. It’s a risk, yes, that Green could leave and not give Boston a chance to match an offer he receives elsewhere, but the Celtics are likely willing to take that risk in exchange for greater flexibility during the summer of 2012.
The Celtics will enter this summer with just $30.5 million on the books (it could be $34.5 million if Brandon Bass decides to exercise a player option for next season, which is unlikely) and Danny Ainge — that wily old badger — will have significant cap space to work with for the first time in years. He doesn’t necessarily have to use it all next year — after Dwight Howard and Deron Williams, the free agent pickings are slim — but he will have options aplenty.
P.S. — This is probably a cold business decision, but it is not a cold business decision that will harm Jeff Green. Green is better off as an unrestricted free agent.
P.P.S. — Green is having heart surgery in two days. Keep him in your thoughts and/or prayers.