What should the Boston Celtics do ahead of the 2022 NBA trade deadline on Feb. 10? Seen by many (and reported by several) as one of the more active teams in trying to make deals ahead of the early-February deadline, we have gotten a few clues about the priorities of the team.
They are based on the largely fiduciary nature of the trade that sent Juancho Hernangomez to the San Antonio Spurs for the Denver Nuggets’ Bol Bol and PJ Dozier and a hefty dose of cap relief earlier this month. Does this mean we can expect only minor moves out of the storied franchise before the end of the 2021-22 season? Or could a substantial trade be in the works?
According to cap guru Yossi Gozlan in his new trade deadline primer for the entire NBA on our sister site HoopsHype, it could go either way.
“First-year president of basketball operations Brad Stevens has been one of the most active executives this season,” writes Gozlan.
“He has already completed six different trades since taking the reigns in Boston and there’s no reason for that activity to stop after the recent deal for Bol Bol and PJ Dozier.
“Trading Juancho Hernangomez for those players puts the Celtics just $2.8 million above the luxury tax. Look for them to make one more cost-cutting move to completely get below the threshold,” he adds.
This echoes a growing consensus regarding Boston’s plans among analysts, even if that doesn’t necessarily preclude large deals that stay within those bounds or even one that doesn’t for the right return.
“According to Jared Weiss, the Celtics have made Al Horford available. He is partially guaranteed for $14.5 million next season so moving on from him might be more about avoiding the luxury tax next season. They are already projected to be right at the luxury tax heading into next season but getting off Horford would put them roughly $25 million below with ten players on the roster, including their 2022 first-round pick.”
This, in turn, has team-building ripple effects according to the HoopsHype cap expert.
Acquiring inexpensive role players may be their most realistic path to improving the team. Unless they are able to offload more salary, trading for high salaried players will be challenging while staying below the luxury tax,” suggests the HoopsHype analyst.
“Boston’s best trade assets might be Marcus Smart and Robert Williams III,” notes Gozlan.
“Smart becomes trade eligible on January 25. Trading Williams III is complicated due to the poison pill provision from his extension which makes his incoming salary for trade purposes $10.3 million instead of his current $3.7 million salary. This could cause salary matching issues in trades for both the Celtics and the team who trades for Williams III.”
“Thankfully, the Celtics have three large trade exceptions worth $17.1 million, $9.7 million, and $6.9 million that could help navigate those issues,” wraps up the author.
While it is unclear if the Celtics believe the current squad is one worth investing in, another outcome Gozlan does not consider here is stripping the team down for future assets.
This may be unpalatable to fans tired of watching the team lose, but could also put the franchise in a better position to pick up blue-chip talent via trade than their current lukewarm collection of player contracts and draft assets might.
Whatever path Boston takes, it will become evident soon enough with the 2022 deadline now just a mere two weeks away.
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Source: Yahoo Sports