Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens is looking to cash in on the remaining $11 million left on Gordon Hayward’s Traded Player Exception and now has less than one month to complete a deal before the Celtics’ illustrious TPE expires.
The clock’s ticking.
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After using $17.5 million of the $28.5 million exception — which was created via Boston trading Hayward to the Charlotte Hornets last year — to acquire Evan Fournier from the Orlando Magic just before last season’s NBA trade deadline, the Celtics have until mid-August to trade for a player making up to $11 million in salary this upcoming season.
NBC Sports Boston’s Chris Forsberg highlighted 10 potential trade targets that fall under Hayward’s exception, including three of the best options at the power forward position. While the Celtics — following their Kemba Walker trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Al Horford — are certainly in the market for a point guard, adding help to the frontcourt should also be a priority this offseason.
Here are three of the best power forwards Stevens should consider trading for via Hayward’s TPE.
Cavs’ Larry Nance Jr.
Cleveland Cavaliers Larry Nance Jr.’s terrific blend of athleticism, 3-point shooting, and defense makes him an ideal candidate for Stevens to add to head coach Ime Udoka’s second unit. However, after spraining his right wrist on two separate occasions, he played only 35 games throughout 2020-21.
Still, given Nance Jr.’s skillset and the fact that he’s only 28-years-old, it should convince the Celtics into taking a flier.
“Nance’s descending salary sneaks him into the mix and he’s exactly the sort of versatile big who really could have helped Boston last season,” Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston wrote. “The difficulty here is that the Cavaliers would be seeking some combination of young talent and draft capital to part with Nance. Boston is limited in what it can splurge in future first-round picks if it wants to maintain maximum flexibility for pursuit of a legitimate third star.
“Cobbling together a package for Nance could trim an already thin collection of trade assets.”
Mavs’ Maxi Kleber
The only reason Dallas Mavericks’ Maxi Kleber isn’t at the top of this list is that the likelihood he’s available this summer is pretty low. Kleber is a fan-favorite in Dallas.
However, if the Mavs suddenly decide they’re trying to save money and cut ties with Kleber, the Celtics could make good use of Hayward’s TPE by absorbing the $8.8 million owed to Maxi for 2021-22. Kleber drained 41% of his 3-pointers last season while averaging 7.1 points along with 5.2 rebounds, and 0.7 blocks per game, per Basketball-reference.com.
He’s the typical two-way, stretch-big player teams with championship aspirations yearn for.
Nuggets’ JaMychal Green
Much of what happens to Denver Nuggets’ JaMychal Green this summer is up to JaMychal as his $7.6 million player option for 2021-22 hangs in the balance. However, if Green ultimately decides to take the option and remain in Denver, the Nuggets — in light of trading for Aaron Gordon last season — will be looking to offload his deal in order to shed cap.
This is where the Celtics can offer a lending hand. Averaging 8.1 points and 4.8 rebounds in 58 games last season, per Basketball-reference.com, Green is a good defender who can hold his own in defending the pick-and-roll.
He’d be taking on the enforcer role for Udoka’s second unit. JaMychal also attempted 3.4 3-pointers a game last season and connected on 40% of his threes.