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Boston Celtics exercise Guerschon Yabusele’s 2019 option: Four things to know

The Boston Celtics exercised their 2019-20 option on Guerschon Yabusele’s contract on Wednesday, ensuring they can bring back the 22-year-old big man for $3.1 million next season, assuming they don’t make a trade this year.

Here are four things to know about the decision to extend Yabusele.

1. This is a small surprise.

The reasoning makes sense — we will get to it in a minute — but Yabusele has played extremely sparingly, and he hasn’t shown a ton in those minutes. Considering that Yabusele’s best position is center, and considering Boston has a more promising prospect at center in Robert Williams, getting him on the court this season might be difficult.

That being said, you can bet the Celtics have reasons down to the dollar for bringing Yabusele back.

2. $3.1 million isn’t a big cap hit.

The Celtics will be sky-high into the luxury tax next season, particularly after they hand Kyrie Irving a bigger max deal and extra particularly going forward if they give Jaylen Brown a max extension on his rookie contract, with the repeater tax looming.

Yabusele’s $3.1 million deal will cost the Celtics a lot more than $3.1 million, especially if they start paying the repeater tax. But if Yabusele can be at all productive, that money will hurt ownership’s pockets less than most of the rest of the contracts on the roster, and having an opportunity to get Yabusele into the rotation is probably worth considering.

It’s also worth noting that simply trading Yabusele for a second-round pick wouldn’t quite get Boston below the luxury tax threshold.

3. Yabusele being productive isn’t out of the question.

Call it a long shot if you want, but there could be NBA skills there if he develops even a little bit. His footwork is solid. His bulk is so considerable, he can bulldoze through opponents to the rim and clear space in the paint. His touch around the rim is soft, and he’s shown flashes of passing ability. His 3-point shot is a work in progress (he might just need reps), and defensively, there’s a long way to go, but if Yabusele can put together the pieces, his contract will be a bargain on a team that desperately needs bargains.

4. The Celtics can, of course, still trade him.

While trading Yabusele wouldn’t get the Celtics out of the luxury tax threshold, having $3 million for salary matching isn’t nothing, and if Boston decides to simply get out of his deal, some team would be willing to take an inexpensive shot on a former mid-first prospect.

And of course, $3.1 million can fill some gaps in a bigger deal as well.

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