After landing Malcolm Brogdon via a trade that didn’t cut into their core and inking Danilo Gallinari to the taxpayer mid-level exception, the Celtics allowed the $17.1-million traded player exception (TPE) they acquired last season to expire unused at 11: 59 p.m. on Monday.
Per Boston Sports Journal’s John Karalis“nothing good enough came along” to tempt Brad Stevens into a final major move to punctuate a big summer.
The TPE was created last offseason when the Celtics used a pair of second-round picks to coax the Knicks into a sign-and-trade for Evan Fournier rather than signing him outright. The Celtics could have used the TPE to bring in a player making $17.1 million or less next season by trading away more draft picks.
Last week, Stevens noted that the team still had the TPE available — as well as several other smaller TPEs, which notably did not expire on Monday — as it looked to upgrade at back-up center. He was also unequivocal that the Celtics have the go-ahead to spend and improve themselves as a contender from ownership, despite the hefty luxury tax implications involved.
“Obviously, we have not only a trade exception now, but trade exceptions that we can use again towards the trade deadline,” Stevens said. “And that’s all about just finding the right deal. If it’s the right trade to be made, we have the green light to do that.”
The Celtics still have until January 19 to use a $6.9 million TPE created when they traded Juancho Hernangomez to the Grizzlies, and another from their Dennis Schröder trade worth $5.9 million that expires Feb. 10 if they want to run right up to the trade deadline before making a move. Other smaller TPEs exist as well.
“If the costs are appropriate, you continue discussions and if they are not, you table it for now and maybe return to those later,” Stevens said regarding the TPE earlier this month.
The Celtics could afford to sit back and wait. Brogdon — who has long been a target of Brad Stevens — will be a massive boost offensively while maintaining the Celtics’ defensive identity. Meanwhile, Gallinari’s arrival adds badly needed sharpshooting that Aaron Nesmith simply couldn’t provide. Derrick White is a near-starter quality player in his own right. Grant Williams had a strong third season.
The Celtics may still target a back-up big man at some point. At the press conference introducing Brogdon and Gallinari (before the TPE expired), Stevens said the Celtics still planned to add one more center to come off the bench along with Luke Kornet. Whether or not Stevens considers Mfiondu Kabengele — who signed a two-way deal after Summer League — that player remains to be seen.
But for Celtics fans, it’s a pretty promising sign that the Celtics didn’t need to acquire a $17.1 million player on Monday because they have quite a few good ones already.
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