BOSTON – Kyrie Irving and Al Horford are expected to opt out of their contracts with the Boston Celtics, who are placing center Aron Baynes on the block to clear a total of $23 million in salary cap space, according to an ESPN report..
Baynes’ expiring contract at $5.4 million could be integral in president Danny Ainge finding enough cap space to replacing Irving and Horford with a max-level player.
The Celtics are reportedly interested in 76ers free agent Jimmy Butler as well as Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard.
Irving’s backup at the point the past two seasons, Terry Rozier, could be in line for a new deal as he enters restricted free agency and the Celtics move toward a core of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward.
If Baynes is moved without the Celtics taking salary in return, Boston would be in position to offer nearly the max — just over $32 million per season — to a player with seven or more years of experience.
Ainge had the Celtics in contention for Anthony Davis, but the Lakers made a more enticing offer that included former No. 2 picks Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball and the fourth overall pick in the 2019 draft.
The Celtics were reluctant to deal young assets — Brown was reportedly the holdup in a Celtics-Spurs swap that could have landed Leonard in Boston last summer — in recent deals and didn’t want to part with Tatum in the Davis deal.
According to multiple reports, the Celtics are also trying to move multiple draft picks. Ainge has five picks in Thursday’s draft, including three first-rounders.
–Field Level Media