After acquiring Malcolm Brogdon in a trade that didn’t sit well with their core and landing Danilo Gallinari on the mid-level taxpayer exception, the Celtics let the $17.1 million tradeable player exception (TPE) they acquired last season expire unused in Year 11: 59 hours on Monday.
Per John Karalis of the Boston Sports Journal“nothing good enough came along” to prompt Brad Stevens to make one last big move to mark the big summer.
The TPE was created last offseason when the Celtics used a pair of second-round picks to talk the Knicks into a sign-and-trade for Evan Fournier instead of signing him outright. The Celtics could have used TPE to bring in a player who will make $17.1 million or less next season by trading multiple draft picks.
Last week, Stevens noted that the team still had a TPE available — as well as several other minor TPEs, which did not expire Monday — as it looked to upgrade at backup center. He was also unequivocal that the Celtics have the green light to spend and improve themselves as an ownership contender, despite the huge luxury tax implications.
“Obviously, now we don’t just have a trade exception, but trade exceptions that we can use again at the trade deadline,” Stevens said. “And it’s all about finding the right job. If it’s the right trade, we have the green light for it.”
The Celtics still have until Jan. 19 to use the $6.9 million TPE they created when they traded Juancho Hernangomez to the Grizzlies, and another $5.9 million from their Dennis Schröder trade that expires Feb. 10 if they want to work right up until the trade deadline before making a move. There are other smaller TPEs.
“If the costs are appropriate, you continue discussions, and if they’re not, you make them available for now and maybe come back to them later,” Stevens said of TPE earlier this month.
The Celtics could only afford to sit and wait. Brogdon — who has long been a target of Brad Stevens — will be a big boost on offense while maintaining the Celtics’ defensive identity. Meanwhile, Gallinari’s arrival adds a much-needed edge that Aaron Nesmith just couldn’t provide. Derrick White is a near-rookie quality player in his own right. Grant Williams had a strong third season.
The Celtics could still target a utility big man at some point, though. At the press conference where Brogdon and Gallinari were introduced (before TPE expired), Stevens said the Celtics still plan to add another center to come off the bench along with Luke Kornet. Whether Stevens will consider Mfiondu Kabengele — who signed a two-way contract after Summer League — remains to be seen.
But for Celtics fans, it’s a pretty promising sign that the Celtics didn’t need to buy a $17.1 million player on Monday because they already have plenty of good players.
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