Celtics reportedly ‘unlikely’ to use big trade exception on ‘substantial piece’

Boston already reportedly made moves to get Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari.

Brad Stevens made a pair of moves on Friday that made the Celtics smile. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The Celtics made a pair of headlining moves on Friday that could lift them over the top after losing in the NBA Finals this past season.

Boston reportedly agreed to trade for Indiana guard Malcolm Brogdon and will sign forward Danilo Gallinari once San Antonio releases him. The Celtics gave up zero major rotational pieces by making those moves, and they still have avenues to get better, too.

The easiest asset the Celtics have to facilitate a move is their $17.1 million, which they received in a sign-and-trade when Evan Fourier departed for the Knicks last offseason. However, the exception expires on July 18 and the Celtics are “unlikely to use that to acquire another substantial piece,” according to The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach.


“The [league] source said the Celtics had actively pursued trades involving the exception over the past two weeks, but ultimately the deal involving Brogdon, whose salary was too large to fit into the exception, turned out to be the best option,” Himmelsbach wrote in the aftermath of the reported Brogdon trade.

Per league rules, the exception can only be used to acquire players whose salary is the same amount or smaller. The exception also can’t be used to tag along with another player to help match salaries in a trade. So, because Brogdon’s salary for the upcoming season is $22.6 million, Boston had to use several players to help match salaries to make the move.

The moves for Brogdon and Gallinari, plus the reported re-signing of Sam Hauser on Sunday, makes it tougher to add any new players to the rotation. But, Boston could eat a bad salary to help use to facilitate the trade down the line.

Heat guard Duncan Robinson has four seasons left on his five-year, $90 million deal. Robinson fell out of Miami’s rotation this past season and as the team is reportedly in the Kevin Durant sweepstakes, Boston could acquire him to help facilitate the move. The Clippers have a logjam of players on the perimeter. Forward Marcus Morris and guard Luke Kennard have both reportedly been mentioned in trade talks and would fit within the exception.


After trading Rudy Gobert to the Timberwolves, the Jazz will have several players who fit into the exception, such as Jordan Clarkson, Patrick Beverley, and Malik Beasley. If Utah is looking to enter a rebuild, which ESPN’s Brian Windhorst alluded to in a viral “First Take” segment on Friday, Boston could help out Danny Ainge and relieve the Jazz of some salary.

By including Daniel Theis in the trade for Brogdon, the Celtics opened a need for a third center. They have reportedly inquired about free-agent center Thomas Bryant. If they’re unable to land him, former Celtic and now Pistons center Kelly Olynyk’s salary fits in the trade exception.

Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens warned fans after the draft that they might not find the right trade to use the $17.1 million trade exception before it expires, mentioning the team has a pair of smaller exceptions it could use ahead of the trade deadline.


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