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Golden contract for this Nugget

Page 4 of 4 -- Added Celtics executive director of basketball operations Danny Ainge: "A lot with free agency is not who, but when. Timing is a beautiful thing. It's hard to figure out why guys like the Jimmy Jacksons and Walt Williamses, guys that are quality players, can't get a minimum contract in some years. Then, you have guys who have been cut five or six times, and all of a sudden they're making $40 million contracts."

With Foyle rejoining Golden State, Antonio McDyess signing with Detroit, and Etan Thomas leaning toward Milwaukee, the Celtics have had to redirect their free agent search. Add the names of former Celtics Rodney Rogers and Eric Williams to the list of possibilities, but don't expect any long-term contracts offered to anyone, particularly big men. Ainge doesn't want to push rookie Al Jefferson and second-year player Kendrick Perkins down the depth chart. "We think they're closer to playing than five or six years," said Ainge. "We've got two 19-year-olds that we think will contribute a little bit this year and contribute something more significant next year. How much? Nobody knows that. We just don't want to get them buried. We don't want our second baseman and shortstop in Triple A to be buried."

Tax preparers

The NBA announced the 2004-05 salary cap will be $43.87 million. The number triggered other important calculations, including the luxury tax threshold, mid-level exception ($4.9 million), and value of maximum contracts signed this offseason. For the 2003-04 season a tax will be collected from teams equal to the amount by which their payrolls exceeded $54.6 million. As expected, this makes the Celtics tax payers with a payroll of $56.15 million last season. "We've known all year what our situation is," said Ainge. "Our budget [for next season] is over the [projected] tax number. Right now, we're over the tax and we're still looking to see if we can add another player. We don't want to get crazy. We want to use our money wisely and manage our cap wisely. [Our owners] haven't turned down anything that I wouldn't have turned down with my own money. They want to win, but they don't want to win two more games and spend $10 million to do it, stupid things like that. It would be nice if we were all playing Monopoly." . . . The Celtics will likely wind up giving John Carroll a paid vacation next season, considering their former interim head coach has taken a laid-back approach to his search for another NBA job. "There's nothing on the radar right now," said Carroll's agent, Warren LeGarie. "John wants to sit back and see how things develop this season, where the dust settles. When things settle down, we'll see where the next opportunity lies." 

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