The Boston Celtics were widely seen as unlikely to use their $17.1 million traded player exception (TPE) before it expires on July 17 after trading for Indiana Pacers point guard Malcolm Brogdon given the team now has about $20 million in the league’s luxury tax, but recent reporting from Jared Weiss of The Athletic related that Boston isn’t done looking for ways to use it.
This would most likely be for a backup big man as that is the only real need for one of the deepest teams in the NBA, but with that big tax bill pending as the roster currently stands suggests that such a move is more expensive big man would probably see a rotation player like Derrick White, Grant Williams or Payton Pritchard go out to balance the books.
Such trades could wear out even the most ardent trading machine enthusiasts with the possibilities, so we won’t be exploring actual deals ourselves.
But we have four potential goals that might make sense given what they can do for Boston, how much they earn, and their limited future with their current team.
Let’s take a look at who might make sense for the Celtics.
Kelly Olynyk – Detroit Pistons – $12.8 Million
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Olynyk is familiar with the Celtics, if not head coach Ime Udoka, and can shoot and pass well enough to fit into the team’s game in the regular season.
No idea that would fit defensively and with one season left on an already expensive contract for his level, he would likely be part of a deal that moves Derrick White if it happened at this point.
Derrick Favors – Oklahoma City Thunder – $10.1 Million
Bob DeChiara-US TODAY Sports
Favors are of little use on the Thunder and since an expiring deal could even make sense with a player like Luke Kornet going back to shave a bit off the tax bill.
And while he doesn’t hit a good enough of 3 to be an ideal option, his distance-of-the-basket game and size are enough to likely help Boston save Al Horford and Robert Williams III for the postseason.
Dario Saric – Phoenix Suns – $9.2 million
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Saric is a mystery box that would probably cost little given the uncertainty over his health after an ACL tear that he recovered from over the past year, as opposed to his sizable salary.
He won’t be an ideal fit even if he’s healthy, given his slight stature and Boston’s need for paint, but he could become an asset with buoyancy force if the Suns need to quickly clear the cap on a Kevin Durant (or Deandre Ayton deal).
Khem Birch – Toronto Raptors – $6.6 million
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The Raptors will likely stick with Birch for the same reason the Celtics might like him, as he’s the size of no height to work in the paint when a team needs some power on the post.
If he was available and not too expensive in terms of demand, Birch’s cheap salary and skills made him one of our favorite potential solutions for Boston at Backup 5.