With the Gordon Hayward sign-and-trade to the Charlotte Hornets now official, it provides a good opportunity to assess the moves the Boston Celtics have made during free agency, and what this team is going to look like moving forward.
Obviously the big question mark heading into free agency was Gordon Hayward. Once he opted out anything was fair game. It seemed like Danny Ainge was close to getting a deal with the Indiana Pacers that would involve Myles Turner, which would have been a big help to the center position. But when it didn’t pan out, Ainge moved quickly to snatch up Tristan Thompson on a two year deal.
When Hayward signed with Charlotte, and it was just a straight up deal, it felt like a massive blunder on Ainge’s part. Obviously we as fans aren’t privy to all of the inner workings that went on, but it seemed fairly obvious that Ainge had Myles Turner in his sights and turned it down. However, Charlotte quickly realized cutting Nic Batum wouldn’t cut it, and worked out a sign-and-trade with the Celtics, that essentially sent over a couple second rounders along with Hayward in exchange for a $28 million trade exemption.
The trade exemption allows the Celtics to trade for a player who’s salary wouldn’t fit under the salary cap. So the Celtics could conceivably bring on a player with that up to a $28 million salary and not have to do any cap gymnastics to make it fit. The Celtics don’t necessarily have the treasure chest of draft picks they possessed a couple of years ago, but they still have enough assets to make a deal work. It doesn’t appear they will be using it anytime soon however, but they do have time to use it. It may not feel like much right now, but this could be a huge part in bringing in another superstar to work with Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.
Aside from the Hayward situation, the Celtics brought in a couple of veterans in Tristan Thompson and Jeff Teague. Thompson will be a nice addition on the glass, and should figure to provide a little bit more in the role that was set aside for Enes Kanter this past season. Teague is a good veteran ball handler who will take over Brad Wanamaker’s spot. While Wanamaker was an capable bench option, it’s safe to say that Teague will definitely add more off the bench. With Kemba Walker being sidelined until January now, we will likely see Teague start in his place until he’s deemed fit to return. Both could be shrewd signings by Ainge if they play up to their potential.
When this team is fully healthy, we will see the lineup that was run out during the first two rounds of playoffs last season. With not much changing from season to season, it is reasonable to expect the Celtics to once again be playing basketball well into the summer. How far they go will depend on how much Tatum and Brown add to their games, and how Kemba’s knee holds up once he returns. This team definitely has the talent to get back to the Eastern Conference Finals again, it’s all about whether or not they play as good as they are on paper.