Normally, a draft pick signing with an NBA team is rather inconsequential. Ever since the rookie contract scale was instituted, these things tend to get done quickly and tidily.
Marcus Smart’s signing with the Boston Celtics does add a wrinkle to the big picture, however.
Smart and the Celtics wasted little time in getting a deal done, with the No. 6 pick signing Saturday, salary cap guru Mark Deeks reported Tuesday. Because the Celtics almost always give their first-round picks 120 percent of the rookie scale — the maximum allowed under the collective bargaining agreement — it’s a virtually certainty that Smart will make approximately $3.28 million this season.
(The first-year scale salary for the No. 6 pick in the 2014 draft is $2.736 million, according to the NBA Salary Cap FAQ. So, 2.736 x 1.20 = 3.28)
What this also means — other than making Smart a very rich man — is that any deal involving Smart for Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love is on hold. NBA rules prohibit a team from trading a draft pick until 30 days after his signing (see rule 99), which means Smart cannot be traded until Aug. 5.
What this also means is that the Celtics cannot acquire Love and then subsequently use the $10.3 million trade exception they received in last year’s deal with the Brooklyn Nets to add a secondary piece. The trade exception expires Saturday, one year after the date the trade officially went through.
This does not mean the Celtics couldn’t use the trade exception to add a player or two worth around $10.3 million without sending out comparable salaries in exchange. It does mean, however, that the Celtics would have to make such secondary moves on a prayer that they could include Smart in a trade for Love (or some other player) later.
The Celtics do not appear to be in a rush, though. As Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told CSNNE, “most trade exceptions go by the wayside. They aren’t utilized.”