The Kris Humphries era came to an end in Boston earlier this week. The Celtics were rumored to be interested in bringing Humphries back, but that interest was likely predicated on Boston being able to land an impact player or two via trade to significantly improve the roster next year.
In that scenario, Boston would have had to sacrifice some young assets like Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk in a deal, but a trade like that has not come to fruition for Danny Ainge this offseason.
With Sullinger, Olynyk and Brandon Bass already under contract at the power forward spot for the 2014-15 season, the team elected to move on from Humphries who agreed to sign a three-year deal with the Washington Wizards on Tuesday.
Currently, the Celtics are reportedly in the process of helping the Wizards acquire Humphries via a sign-and-trade deal.
How exactly does a sign-and-trade move like this come about? And what will the Celtics get out of it? Let’s walk through the process.
First, it’s important to understand both sides of the deal. The Wizards wanted to sign Humphries but were over the salary cap. They also already used their mid-level exception (worth roughly $5.5 million per year) on Paul Pierce, meaning a sign-and-trade with Boston was the only way for Washington to give Humphries the salary (reportedly $4.3 million per year) he wanted to go there.
The Celtics maintained Bird Rights on Humphries this offseason, meaning they could sign him for up to 125 percent of his 2013-14 salary ($12 million), despite being over the salary cap. Those rights create the ability for a sign-and-trade to come together between the two teams here.
In the pending swap, the Celtics will reportedly not be receiving any players in the deal for Humphries. Instead, they will likely receive a protected second round pick that serves as the minimal amount of compensation the Wizards are required to send in any NBA trade. In essence, it’s likely to become nothing, but you aren’t allowed to trade “nothing” in the NBA.
What do the Celtics get out of it then? Since Boston is over the cap and sent out $4.3 million in salary without any coming back, they receive a brand new $4.3 million trade exception. Like the exception acquired in the Pierce deal last summer, Boston will have one year from the day the trade becomes official to use the exception.
The Wizards already have a trade exception right now valued at $8.6 million dollars, which they received after sending Trevor Ariza to the Houston Rockets in a trade over the weekend. They will use $4.3 million of that exception to absorb Humphries salary in the swap. Essentially, Boston is doing a favor for Humphries here by helping him secure a reasonable salary and competitive landing spot.
In the big picture, a $4.3 million trade exception is not worth a ton to Boston, but it’s better than losing Humphries for nothing if the team wasn’t going to bring him back anyway.
With another exception in his arsenal, the hope for Celtics fans is that Ainge will use the added trade flexibility to help Boston land additional assets in the coming months, much like he did in the Marcus Thornton trade last week.