The Celtics have remained active in the days before the NBA Draft. League sources told BostonSportsJournal.com that Boston has had discussions with multiple teams about absorbing a large veteran contract with their anticipated salary cap space. The team is exploring leveraging that cap space into additional future assets (players and/or picks) in exchange for taking on a contract another team is looking to get rid of.
This is a route the team has executed with success multiple times in the past decade. They snagged an extra first-round pick from the Brooklyn Nets in 2013 for taking on the Gerald Wallace contract as part of the Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce blockbuster trade. The Celtics also got a future first round pick and a young Tyler Zeller in 2015 from the Cavs for helping facilitate a three-team deal with the Nets when they took on Marcus Thornton’s contract into a trade exception.
With the NBA championship landscape wide open in the wake of serious injuries to Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, there are several teams across the association looking to dump big veteran contracts in order to create salary cap flexibility for themselves and reduce potential luxury tax concerns. With Kyrie Irving and Al Horford poised to walk out the door in free agency, Danny Ainge and his staff are considering leveraging their own unexpected cap space to gain additional assets from a team via future draft picks or young players with potential. Those assets might then be used as a tool to target future acquisitions since the team's current pool of draft assets will run thin after Thursday night. The lightly protected future Grizzlies first round pick is the team's only additional first round pick for 2020 and beyond, which put the C's with limited assets to pursue a future available star via trade.
As Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com first reported on Thursday morning, the team is also shopping Aron Baynes and his $5.4-million salary as a way to gain more flexibility with their cap situation. The team gave Baynes no promises about his future when he opted in last month, as Bostonsportsjournal.com reported last week. Given the events of the past week, it’s understandable that the team wants to open up more flexibility for themselves (and maybe gain an asset) this summer without his deal on the books in a market that should be full of cheap, younger alternatives (via the draft or free agency) at center.
Adding a bad contract is one of several possibilities on the table. There are a number of different routes the team could go with their salary cap room and three first round picks on draft night. Consolidating picks remains in play for a lottery piece, while an asset like Jaylen Brown could be cashed in if the team wants to shift to building more around Jayson Tatum and other cost-controlled pieces over the long-term with a focus on acquiring a new star when one becomes available.
If the Celtics renounce Marcus Morris’ Bird Rights and trade Baynes for no salary return, they will have north of $25 million in cap room. That number increases to $33 million if Terry Rozier is renounced and can be increased more by trading or stashing picks.
What kind of bloated contracts could be taken in by Boston for additional assets? Here’s a look at some of the names floating on the market in recent days: