Boston Celtics Mailbag: John Collins trade scenarios, TPE options, reasonable free agency targets

We run a weekly mailbag during the Celtics off-season. If you have questions about the Celtics or the NBA, send an email or tweet @briantrobb

One playoff issue that didn’t get much attention was how poorly the Celtics were playing at home, 6-6 in Boston and 8-4 away.

I keep wishing the media would ask the players about it. It seemed to me that the noisy crowd made them play tight. From my eyes, and not statistics, it seemed that they shot worse at home, which perhaps could be due to nerves.

Any thoughts as to why they had trouble taking advantage of the home court? – Matt, Somerville

This was definitely one of the more bizarre elements of the postseason after Round 1. Various Celtics have been asked this a few times but understandably didn’t have a good answer. My only guess would be simply that a lot of those home games came after victories before the NBA Finals and the Celtics just didn’t seem to have the same sense of urgency to at least start those games. Ime Udoka has adopted the Road Warriors mentality for this group all season and it’s clearly served them well, with Road Elimination victories in Milwaukee and Miami in tough spots. However, to win a title you have to take care of business at home and the Celtics couldn’t do that despite being a great home team in the second half of the regular season.

The Celtics are reportedly interested in trading for John Collins. What would the Celtics Atlanta need to offer in trade compensation? Also, the Celtics squad lacks shot creation after Tatum and Brown. Which players, available through trade or free agencies, do the Celtics realistically have the means to acquire? —Kenneth

Trading rules would change a bit depending on whether the Celtics attempted to trade for Collins before or after July 1. However, in a hypothetical July trade, the Celtics would have to pay just over $18 million in salary to use the money for such a deal. Boston could try to make a tough offer with several first-rounders and try not to cobble together enough salary with any of its core veteran rotation plays (Daniel Theis, Grant Williams, Payton Pritchard, Aaron Nesmith). However, the conjecture here is that the Hawks are aiming a little higher in terms of personnel return for a player like Collins.

If that’s the case then someone like Marcus Smart or Derrick White would have to be on the table for the math to work (I’d be shocked if Rob Williams was offered based on what I’ve heard in the league). To be honest, I doubt Smart would be put on the table unless the team finds a proper replacement in a separate deal. The Hawks are still looking for more than him. The Celtics have probably at least been inquiring here in recent weeks, but given the asking price the Hawks are seeking it’s doubtful it’s gotten very far.

Will have a trading options breakdown column in the coming days and will cover some free agents a little further down this article.

Thank you for all you do in covering the Celtics. It’s been a great season and we value your analysis and insights. As we transition to a new season and this may become moot in the next few days, we may be misinterpreting the various TPEs (e.g. as a salary cap that we can recover on a 1-to-1 trade) rather than as an intermediary a bigger deal?

Put another way, if the Celtics are targeting someone like Beal (or another big fish), what’s stopping them from buying a third big salary (of a player the Star Trading team wants) to use in that bigger deal to act? even if it means the trade can’t be officially completed 60 days after the first trade (which would still be around the time of camp/season start)?

For example, a trade matching TPE Player X (who earns approximately $17.1 million in salary), Theis, and Nesmith will net you $29.1 million in matching salary (over the required $29.04 million earned at a beal trade or another player). money) and adding a bunch of future picks and pick swaps could get you in the door on such a trade, assuming the star wants to play here. Of course, getting multiple parties to a deal is always more difficult, but other permutations of the same deal with different names/picks that follow the same structure may be available. If you really wanted to go crazy you could take someone like Nesmith out and have his place taken by another TPE acquisition for either of the other two exceptions we have as well. Thanks Matt D

Thanks for the kind words Matt D! If I’m reading your question correctly, it’s definitely an intriguing idea. I think you’re saying the Celtics are simply trading with the TPE for a bigger salary with the intention of spinning it off at a different salary and making a bigger deal later. That’s certainly an option if the deal is structured properly (there would be some caveats as you mentioned based on that). The challenge for the front office in this regard lies on several fronts. First, even with picks, it will be a challenge to have enough to offer in such a deal to compete for every big name in trade talks. You’ll have to trade away a piece or two of your core to close the deal, so you might not even need a TPE player there to make the salary.

The biggest problem from Boston’s perspective is holding onto a bloated contract that the team doesn’t want, adding a ton to the tax bill in the process if the Celtics are trading for a contract they just want to do again. However, I think there is value in having an easily moveable salary for a mid-season trade if there are no attractive upgrades in the next few weeks. Whether there’s an expiring contract out there that fits the bill, or whether the Celtics are willing to roll the dice for a long-term deal in this form is the bigger question. However, what you’re suggesting is a far better idea from a team building perspective to keep Celtics looking for opportunities rather than letting the $17 million TPE lapse unused next month. This scenario would close many doors for Boston.

Please give me in your opinion two perfect players that the Celtics could reasonably acquire Gerard from Delaware

I’m assuming this is on the free agency front, so I’ll discuss some realistic goals with the mid tier. Nic Batum, Otto Porter Jr. or Kyle Anderson are veterans who would be able to eat minutes at the wing looking for a ring. Anderson is probably the most realistic option to switch teams as the Clippers can pay Batum and the Warriors may choose to play Porter Jr. versus Gary Payton II, but the Celtics will certainly be in the hunt for both. The Grizzlies have a lot of wings, so they wouldn’t be surprised to see them let Anderson go. If that’s the case, the Celtics should pounce on him with a mid-level offer.

Can the Celtics afford Beal if he’s unrestricted and they restructure Horford and trade White? — Josch

You can not. They’re well over the limit and Horford has guaranteed most of his contract for next season after reaching the NBA Finals. That’s money on the books that can’t be restructured, so even moving a mid-level contract like White doesn’t get the Celtics below the salary cap to move Beal on the free hand by signing straight. Any Beal acquisition would have to be through trade.

Please do not answer Beal questions. — Ty

Sorry Ty, was so close! Maybe next week when he signs a new deal in Washington. (Even then, probably not).

Please mail any questions about the Celtics or the NBA to for a future mailbag or tweet @briantrobb

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