The Boston Celtics didn’t need to trade Daniel Theis.
They did anyway, and perhaps if Theis was under contract beyond this season, he still would be in Boston.
The C’s on Thursday moved Theis and Javonte Green to the Chicago Bulls in a three-team deal that landed Boston Moe Wagner and Luke Kornet. Whether Danny Ainge wants to admit it or not, it was a cap-dump move to keep the Celtics under the luxury tax.
But the possibility existed that Theis, arguably the Celtics’ most efficient center, walked this offseason for nothing since he was a pending free agent.
Ainge did concede that played a role in the decision to move the German big man.
“Yeah, I think there’s part of that. Sure,” Ainge responded when asked if Theis’ contract status played a role in the move.
Wagner, who could make his Celtics debut as soon as Friday, is an intriguing player and could be Theis’ de facto replacement, but the trade absolutely does not make Boston better now.
With respect to the luxury tax, it’s worth noting the Celtics could end up going back over if Boston reaches the NBA Finals, as Jaylen Brown and Evan Fournier have incentives in their contract that kick in if Boston wins it all. That, of course, seems like a distant possibility at this point.