How trade of Enes Kanter opens up more possibilities for Celtics

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The Celtics completed their second trade of the week on Friday afternoon, moving backup center Enes Kanter to the Portland Trail Blazers as part of a three-team trade that began on draft night, according to a league source. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com was first to report the deal. A look at the particulars.

Celtics get: Two second-round picks (from Memphis), $5 million trade exception
Grizzlies get: No. 30 pick Desmond Bane (from Celtics), Mario Hezonja (from Portland)
Blazers get: Enes Kanter (from Celtics)

According to a league source, the Blazers will take Kanter and his $5 million salary into one of their trade exception, which frees up a roster spot for Boston as part of the deal since they don’t have to take back any salary.

BSJ Analysis

This was a move that we wrote about yesterday here at BSJ as a likely scenario. The Celtics like Kanter but they aren’t interested in paying him $5 million next season to be a third-string center behind Daniel Theis and Rob Williams. Similarly, Kanter was likely pushing for a chance at more opportunity but did not want to opt-out and give up the $5 million he had available by opting into his player option on Thursday. The compromise? The Celtics find a team (Portland) that is happy to take Kanter for next season and give him a meaningful role. Portland is losing Hassan Whiteside in free agency so Kanter should slide into backup role behind Jusuf Nurkic at center. He had success there back in 2019 before signing with Boston so the Blazers were happy to welcome him back.

From a Celtics perspective, this deal helps in a couple of different ways. Kanter is a little bit overpaid but the Celtics give up nothing as a sweetener (i.e. no picks) to get out of the deal. Instead, they free up a roster spot on a crowded roster and get a bit more payroll flexibility for the upcoming season. That could prove useful in potential sign-and-trade scenarios with Gordon Hayward or if the unlikely scenario occurs where Hayward agrees to re-sign with Boston on a long-term deal. The Celtics also create a $5 million trade exception that will last for the remainder of the season.

The trades of Kanter and Vincent Poirier not only frees up more opportunity for Daniel Theis, Rob Williams and Grant Williams in Boston’s frontcourt next season but it’s also a strong signal that the C’s like their odds of adding a useful veteran big on the free