With Danilo Gallinari expected to be out for the entire 2022-23 season, the Boston Celtics could use some help on the wing. While it appears they are fine with their roster the way it is now, they may change their mind when buyout season comes along.
An Eastern Conference executive spoke with Heavy Sports’ Sean Deveney regarding players who the Celtics could potentially target with one of the trade exceptions in their arsenal.
“I think two guys they looked at and could look at with their TPEs are Justise Winslow and Mo Harkless. I think both of those guys make sense if they’re not getting what they want off the bench for backup wings.”
The executive then went into more detail as to why the Celtics may covet Harkless were he to be available to acquire.
“He’d be a good fit there,” the exec said. “He can do a little of everything and has fit in with all his teams.”
Harkless has been an NBA journeyman since being drafted into the NBA in 2012. After being drafted 15th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers, Harkless’ rights were traded to the Orlando Magic in the Dwight Howard blockbuster trade of 2012. Since then, he’s made pit stops with the Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Clippers, New York Knicks, Miami Heat, Sacramento Kings, Atlanta Hawks, and Oklahoma City Thunder.
Harkless has put career averages of 6.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 0.9 assists while shooting 47.4 percent from the field and 32 percent from three.
Harkless Traded to Oklahoma City
On September 27, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that Harkless had been traded by the Hawks, along with a second-round pick, to the Thunder for Vit Krejci.
Harkless had been acquired by the Hawks when they traded Kevin Huerter away to the Kings. Harkless had even been around the Hawks long enough to take questions as well as pose for pictures for media day, but he never played a game as a Hawk.
Because they are expected to be one of the worst teams in the NBA, there is speculation that the Thunder plan to waive Harkless shortly after the trade is official. If that is the case, the Celtics wouldn’t have to use one of their trade exceptions to acquire his services.
The Celtics’ Next Move
The Celtics have an interesting choice to make if they indeed decide to go after Harkless. With Harkless slated to make $4,564,980 for the 2022-23 season, according to Spotrac, he would fit into either of the Celtics’ two biggest trade exceptions.
The Celtics have the $6.9 million Juancho Hernangomez trade exception and the $5.9 million Dennis Schroder trade exception at the moment. Either one could be used to absorb Harkless’ salary.
However, the Celtics have one of the highest payrolls in the NBA and are slated to go into the luxury tax. Acquiring Harkless would lead them to have to pay even more in luxury tax bills. Granted, they would have to do that anyway if they signed him as an unrestricted free agent, but they wouldn’t have to pay as much if that were the case.
Then again, trading for him would negate the risk of potentially having competitors for his services were he to hit free agency after a buyout.
The exec who spoke to Deveney pointed out that the Celtics previously looked into trading for Harkless. Seeing how the Hawks are expected to be a playoff competitor, they may not have wanted to help the reigning Eastern Conference champions get better. Now that Harkless is no longer a Hawk or in the Eastern Conference, he may very well have become a legitimate trade option for the Celtics.