Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has a $28.5 million traded player exception acquired from the Charlotte Hornets, and one whole calendar year to use it.
Gordon Hayward’s hefty TPE – the greatest in NBA history – gives Ainge significant cap to barter GMs with, he certainly has options following the signings of Tristan Thompson and Jeff Teague. The Celtics are currently around $22 million below the tax apron, which means they won’t be able to use all of the traded player exception but it could be enough for Boston to acquire an everyday starter.
Ainge shouldn’t be in any rush, so this works in the Celtics’ favor. And as the regular season evolves, head coach Brad Stevens and Ainge will have a better grasp of what the team’s missing pieces are while teams across the league will be doing the same.
Could Aaron Gordon Be Danny Ainge’s Next Big Steal?
It’s how teams discover which players have a future with the organization or if they need to cut bait. Boston is equipped for the latter, readily available because alongside future first-round picks is the TPE to assist a team potentially looking to shed cap.
The Athletic’s Jared Weiss explored a handful of potential targets but one of the more intriguing options that stood out was a potential trade with the Orlando Magic. When you consider how detrimental the power forward position could turn out to be for the Celtics this season, Aaron Gordon is somewhat of an ideal fit.
His athleticism would adapt naturally to Stevens’ fast-break offense while Ainge would also be adding another force on the defensive end to place alongside Daniel Theis. Stevens, who admitted that he’s currently flirting with the idea of moving Theis to the four spot, could use all the help he can get in the frontcourt.
Jared Weiss: Aaron Gordon Is Either A ‘Sub-Star Caliber In A Featured Role’ Or ‘A Perennial All-Star In The Waiting’
And with two years left, worth $18.1 million and $16.4 million, respectively, left on his contract, Gordon would be a steal if the Magic ultimately decide to move on from Aaron.
“Depending on whom you ask around the league, the 25-year-old high-flyer is a tweener forward who was revealed to be sub-star caliber in a featured role – or a perennial All-Star in the waiting who needs a great start in an offense that doesn’t need him to run the system,” Weiss writes. “But in Boston, he could actually turn out to be an even better fit than Hayward and could make all the consternation over how Hayward’s exit was managed look comical in hindsight.
“Gordon is a ferocious driver and good finisher who can tear defenses apart attacking closeouts, especially on a team that really spreads out defenses the way Boston does.”
Aaron also wouldn’t have to take on the sort of pressure that comes with being a top option on a competing team. A change of scenery could do the trick.
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