Danny Ainge is being lauded for his role in Thursday’s three-team trade, which landed the Boston Celtics Tyler Zeller, Marcus Thornton and a first-round draft pick at marginal cost.
Ainge, the Celtics’ president of basketball operations, was not without other options, though, he told reporters Thursday. Before using a $10.3 million trade exception to take on Zeller and Thornton’s salaries without exchanging any outgoing players or salaries, Ainge said he had other options on the table.
“We’ve had other opportunities, and we had other ideas on how we would utilize our trade exception,” Ainge told reporters in Orlando, where he watched the Celtics’ summer league team defeat the Magic. “This wasn’t like No. 1 on the list. But getting a draft pick and a good young player will always be a good option. There were other opportunities out there as well that we contemplated, that we just weren’t able to do.”
The Celtics received the trade exception as a result of last summer’s trade that sent Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets. The exception allowed them to take on a player or players worth up to $10.3 million without giving up any assets of their own; Thornton’s $8.6 million and Zeller’s $1.7 million contracts hit the mark almost exactly.
The exception was set to expire Saturday, one year to the day of the blockbuster trade going through, and Ainge has said he was prepared to let it expire. Such exceptions often lapse without being used, in fact, as trade partners generally are reluctant to give up something for nothing.
In this case, with the Cavs intent on clearing salary cap space to pursue free agent LeBron James, Ainge was able to find a team willing to do just that.
Photo via Twitter/@CLNS_JaredWeiss