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Celtics' Trades Mean Boston Maintains Salary Cap Flexibility For 2012

The Boston Celtics executed a flurry of trades just before the NBA trade deadline on Thursday, shipping out Kendrick Perkins, Nate Robinson, Marquis Daniels, Semih Erden and Luke Harangody in three separate deals. The C's did take some players back -- Jeff Green, most notably, but also Nenad Krstic -- but the moves had an eye toward salary flexibility moving forward.

After the trades, the Celtics have just three players -- Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley -- on the books for the 2012-13 season. That means that Boston could end up serious players in the 2012 free agent market, which just so happens to star Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Dwight Howard ... potentially.

Any or all of those players could sign extensions with their current teams well before 2012, or they could follow the paths of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh before them and start a derby. With Rondo in place, Boston would most likely look toward Howard, the best center in the NBA.

Green is a restricted free agent at season's end, and signing him long-term could throw a wrench in those 2012 plans. The team must also address the loss of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen at the end of the 2011-12 season as well; re-signing either or both would restrict Boston's cap space. But for a really old team competing for a championship right now? Cap flexibility in a year and change is pretty outrageous. The Celtics will have options going forward.