Celtics trade exceptions: Who could Boston acquire with three TPEs?

Can the Boston Celtics become the first team in five years to compete in consecutive NBA Finals? That may depend on the work Brad Stevens does over the next few weeks.

The president of the Celtics’ basketball operations on Tuesday expressed a desire to add more consistent bench scoring and playmaking this offseason. Among the tools at Stevens’ disposal are a variety of traded player exceptions (aka TPEs), which allow Boston to add players via trade without having to adjust salaries.

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What are the specifics of the Celtics’ TPEs and which players could they target with each exception? Here’s everything you need to know about TPEs and the Cs.

What is a Traded Player Exception?

TPEs are created when a team trades a player without receiving a salary in return. They are often generated after sign-and-trades.

For example, when the Celtics sold Gordon Hayward to the Charlotte Hornets in November for just one draft pick, they generated $28.5 million in TPE, which was equal to Hayward’s salary in the first year of his contract.

How can traded player exceptions be used?

Think of the Hayward trade in reverse order: If the Celtics had a TPE of $28.5 million, they could trade Hayward (or any player worth up to $28.5 million in the coming year of their contract earned) in a trade without having to “adjust salaries”. or send back players whose salaries add up to that $28.5 million.

A few important notes about TPEs:

  • They typically expire a year after they are created.
  • she tip be combined with other TPEs. So the Celtics couldn’t land a $20M player with a $15M TPE and a $5M TPE.
  • she can used to win multiple players. So if the Celtics had $20 million in TPE, they could have two players earning $10 million each next season.

How many traded player exemptions does the Celtics have?

The short answer: many. Boston currently has eight TPEs available. However, five are worth less than $2.2 million, so let’s just focus on the big three: $17.1 million, $6.9 million, and $5.9 million.

Here’s a breakdown of each TPE and which players the Celtics could win with those assets.

Exception #1 for traded players: $17.1 million

How purchased: Evan Fournier trades with New York Knicks (Aug. 2021)

Expires: July 18, 2022

Players who could target the Celtics:

  • Duncan Robinson, Miami Heat ($16.9 million salary 2022-23)
  • Norman Powell, Los Angeles Clippers ($16.8 million)
  • Dejounte Murray, San Antonio Spurs ($16.6 million)
  • Kevin Hurter, Atlanta Hawks ($14.5 million)
  • Terrence Ross, Orlando Magic ($11.5 million)

The Celtics’ biggest TPE also expires earliest. While Murray seems an unlikely target if Boston keeps Marcus Smart as a point guard, he overlapped with Celtics head coach Ime Udoka for three seasons in San Antonio.

Huerter and Ross are both tempting targets. The Celtics and Hawks reportedly discussed a trade between Huerter and Smart back in February and the 23-year-old winger could score from the bench. Ditto for Ross, who turned 31 in February but would add much-needed scoring depth.

Traded Player Exception #2: $6.9 million

How purchased: Juancho Hernangomez Trades Memphis Grizzlies (Aug. 2021)

Expires: January 19, 2023

Players who could target the Celtics:

  • Justin Holiday, Sacramento Kings ($6.3 million)
  • Rui Hachimura, Washington Wizards ($6.3 million)
  • Patty Mills, Brooklyn Nets ($6.2 million; player option)

Our Chris Forsberg named Holiday a potential trade date target in January and the 33-year-old would give the C’s a veteran lead. Mills is another udoka student from her San Antonio days and could be a stable backcourt presence behind Smart.

Boston is reportedly planning to bring Al Horford back next season, but he may not be able to amass many minutes in the regular season at the age of 36, so 24-year-old Hachimura would be an intriguing option on the apron.

Exception #3 for traded players: $5.9 million

How purchased: Dennis Schroder trades with Houston Rockets (Aug. 2021)

Expires: February 10, 2023

Players who could target the Celtics:

  • Cam Reddish, New York Knicks ($5.9 million)
  • Pat Connaughton, Milwaukee Bucks ($5.7 million; player option)
  • Ish Smith, Washington Wizards ($4.7 million)

Reddish was also involved in this hypothetical smart trade and would fit well in Boston as a delicate wing behind Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

Connaughton, the pride of Arlington, Mass., is an excellent outside shooter with an NBA title on his resume, while Smith is a Celtics killer who would fit into a mold similar to Mills’ as a playing backup point guard.

All of these potential trades would require the Cs to give up some sort of capital (probably draft picks) and the above players would only be available if their teams wanted to free up cap space. Stevens suggested Boston could take a conservative approach this offseason, only adding players who are a good fit with the Celtics’ current core.

But if the C’s want to improve their roster, the TPE is a valuable tool and there’s no shortage of options available.

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