Why the Celtics probably won't cut Jabari Bird any time soon in wake of domestic violence case

Alex Reimer
September 14, 2018 - 1:24 pm

It will likely be a while before the Celtics make a decision on Jabari Bird.

More dark details about Bird’s domestic violence charge were revealed Thursday at the guard’s arraignment in Brighton. Prosecutors say Bird’s girlfriend told police he choked her roughly a dozen times during an argument last Friday while kicking her and holding her against her will. The woman said Bird’s physical assault caused her to suffer mental distress.

Bird collapsed during the altercation and was brought to a local hospital. He’s currently being held on $50,000 bail. 

The visceral reaction is to rally for the Celtics to release Bird, who projects to be nothing more than the 14th of 15th man on their roster. But Sports Illustrated’s Michael McCann explains it’s more complicated than that. In his informative primer on the case, McCann says the Celtics would have to pay Bird his guaranteed salary of $1.35 million if they released him before he’s convicted or the NBA completes its investigation.

Bird’s deal can only be void following a finished investigation, which explains why the Celtics haven’ taken any action yet. 

“Rather than cutting Bird—which would have the seemingly undesirable consequence of paying him a lot of money right after he is accused of horrendous conduct—the Celtics appear inclined to monitor Bird’s interaction with the NBA and National Basketball Players’ Association’s collectively bargained domestic violence policy,” McCann writes. “Under Article 16 and Exhibit F of the CBA (discussed below), the joint policy takes priority over any team policy. In other words, unless the Celtics want to pay a man accused of savagely beating up a young woman $1.35 million, the team must wait to see how the NBA and NBPA investigate and judge Bird.”

The Celtics released a statement about Bird Thursday, expressing sympathy for the victim.

“Most importantly, our thoughts are with the victim of this incident,” the statement reads. “The Celtics organization deplores domestic violence of any kind, and we are deeply disturbed by the allegations against Jabari Bird. Pursuant to Domestic Violence Policy in the NBA’s labor agreement, matters of this kind are handled by the League Office, not the team, and so the Celtics will be working with both the league and local authorities to assist in their ongoing investigations. The team will have no further comment at this time.”

The Celtics selected Bird with the No. 56 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. He played his college ball at the University of California Berkeley.