The Boston Celtics have a shiny new sports car waiting for them to drive it off the lot. The problem? Right now, they technically don’t have the money to buy it.
That’s the odd situation the Celtics find themselves in Friday morning. Gordon Hayward announced Tuesday his intentions to sign with the C’s, and he even was spotted in Boston on Thursday night preparing for life with his new team. But Boston still needs to clear significant cap space to sign Hayward to a maximum contract, meaning it must trade a player like Marcus Smart, Jae Crowder or Avery Bradley to free up that money. A sign-and-trade with the Utah Jazz for Hayward has been rumored, but the Celtics also could be forced to deal with other NBA clubs.
Which leads us to this: According to the Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett, NBA teams are well aware of Boston’s predicament and are in no mood to let Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge off the hook easy.
“The Celtics were having some issues getting deals done in part because teams see them as being in a tight squeeze,” Bulpett wrote Friday morning, citing two league sources. “… Opponents were trying to get a bargain, while the Celts were trying to get at least reasonable value in return.”
Per Bulpett, there are specific roadblocks for trades involving Bradley, Smart and Crowder. Bradley and Smart both will become free agents in 2018, meaning a team that signed either player would have to decide if it wants to shell out money for a new contract after one season.
Crowder is signed through 2020 on a much more team-friendly contract, but that just means he has higher value, and the Celtics would want something good in return.
“You know how teams were (upset) at (the) Indiana (Pacers) when they saw what they got for (Paul) George? That’s how it’ll be if Boston gives up Crowder just to clear space,” a Western Conference executive told Bulpett.
Boston will need to resolve its roster logjam soon, too; Hayward is expected to hold his introductory press conference Friday or Saturday, per the latest reports. That just means more pressure on Ainge to make a deal — and more leverage for those teams interested in his assets.
UPDATE (10:30 a.m.): The Celtics reportedly will trade guard Avery Bradley and a second-round pick to the Detroit Pistons for forward Marcus Morris.
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