However, the Boston Celtics managed to get something for Gordon Hayward. After all the horror of Danny Einge, who misses anything offered by the Indiana Pacers, he managed to return and receive a valuable asset from the Charlotte Hornets.
The $ 28.5 million traded player (TPE) exception, which Boston received in exchange for a pair of second rounds, is the largest TPE in NBA history. It can be quite valuable to the Celtics, probably even more valuable than what the Pacers offered.
What is TPE?
An exception for a traded player is basically a coupon that a team receives in exchange for a player traded with a team that can absorb it in the restricted space or exception.
In the NBA, salaries must match for a deal to work. When a team, like Charlotte, can sign a player directly but decides to trade for him without sending players back, the sending team instead receives a TPE. This is a way to equalize wages, but generally do it later.
So Boston receives a coupon equal to Gordon Hayward’s first salary for the first year and they can use it to match the salary in a deal or deals later.
Why would Charlotte do that?
Because they got two options for the second round and they can be valuable either as cheap players to fill the list, or as sweeteners to trade down the road.
How can Boston use it?
The fine print of this coupon reads “cannot be combined with other assets”. They can split it and trade for more than one player or in deals with more than one team. They can make a deal tomorrow with one team and in March with another. Some basic rules:
- It cannot be combined with anything else to increase its value. They cannot add a player who earns $ 5 million, or the $ 5 million TPE created by the Enes Kanter deal, to a deal and make it worth $ 33.5 million. This TPE stands alone.
- Cannot be used after the expiration date. This is usually one year, but due to the strange moment of this season, it will expire before the beginning of next season.
- Cannot be used to sign a free agent. It’s not money to spend. Maybe you can think of it as something like a gift card instead, and it can only be used in the “store”. However, if there is a free agent they wanted to sign, they could probably easily negotiate signing and trading with his original team and that team will create their own TPE.
Who can get Boston with him?
Step One: You can go here and scroll to D’Angelo Russell at 31 to start looking at who actually fits the exception. Everyone above him is out (sorry, Bradley Beale fans).
From there we can remove some obvious names. Giannis Antetokounmpo is not traded by exception. Also keep in mind that since Boston signs Tristan Thompson for a complete mid-level exception, they will be hard to limit to about $ 139 million, so using the full $ 28.5 million TPE may not be possible unless move some other players.
Step Two: Find realistic scenarios
I will break this down into several levels. The first is of players for whom the entire TPE will be used, and the second is mostly boys who would take part of it.
- Otto Porter, $ 28,489,239
- Nikola Vucevic, $ 26,000,000
- Buddy Hill, $ 24,931,817
- Harrison Barnes, $ 22,215,909
- Gary Harris, $ 19,160,714
Personally, I think Boston should focus on the wings. Vucevic is on this list because it is an intriguing option to stretch 5 with a terminated contract, but it is still super expensive and I would be wary of this move.
Porter is 27 years old and a career scorer of 40.4% of 3. He overpaid in Chicago, but it’s an expiring contract and trading for him carries his bird rights, so Boston can either sign him to a smarter deal next season, or trade it at the deadline. Heald and Barnes are candidates to move to Sacramento, but Heald is just beginning a big five-year extension, and that may be too much for Boston.
Barnes is a great shooter who can fit into the multi-position style of Boston. He is also declining in contracts, making $ 20.3 million next season and $ 18.3 million next season. These are very tradable numbers if Boston continues to rebuild.
Harris is an intriguing “change of scene” man who has another season for his deal with the Denver Nuggets. His injuries cost him opportunities and the team did well without him. Their off-season moves make it difficult for them, so the pay-as-you-go trade to create a TPE and fill its place in the summer when the hard cap disappears makes sense. Boston will hope for good health and a new team can turn it into a 40% scorer, as it was two years ago.
- Aaron Gordon, $ 18,136,364
- Evan Fournier, $ 17,150,000
- JJ Reddick, $ 13,013,700
- Kelly Olinick, $ 13,598,243
- Al-Farouk Amin, $ 9,720,900
- George Hill, $ 9,590,602
- PJ Tucker, $ 7,969,537
If I’m Danny Ainge, I basically call the Chicago Bulls and Orlando Magic and ask who on their list is available in that situation. Gordon could do very well with the Celtics if he just played inside himself and a system that didn’t expect too much from him.
Personally, I would prefer to take a Fournier if possible. It expires this season and can provide immediate assistance. He is 28 years old and a depth killer, so Orlando may just be looking to dump him instead of paying him next season. The real questions about trading with Fournier are whether Orlando would ask too much in return and whether Boston would want to pay him in advance.
There is no doubt in my mind that New Orleans would like to return an asset to Reddick. Boston can certainly use a reliable shooter like him from the bench.
Miami probably wouldn’t mind freeing up space for caps at Olynyk’s trade if Boston hoped to test his ability to spread the floor once more.
Aminu is a person with a very low probability, but if he is healthy, he can be a strong, universal defensive wing. If he manages to regain some of his shooting magic in Portland, he will be a good option on the bench.
Hill would be a very capable archive of Kemba Walker, and he could intervene and direct the show if Walker’s knee became a problem. His $ 10 million salary next season is not guaranteed, but $ 10 million could turn him into a valuable trading chip next summer.
Tucker would make the front yard a little more crowded, but it doesn’t hurt to call the financially troubled Houston Rockets and see if you can get a theft.
It is important to note that boys in this class are also very tradable and could be valuable to the Celtics in future salary matching scenarios. Currently, Marcus Smart is the only middle contract in the team, which means that it should be included in most trading scenarios for a superstar. Getting players who are also around the size of his contract can help Boston keep him if the bigger deal materializes along the way.
However the Celtics play this, they will have some options. Some of these names make more sense than others, and some may not be available at all, but these are the types of players who play for Boston with TPE.
Danny Einge did get something in return for Gordon Hayward, and if he manages to make the right moves, his pull through TPE could end up being much better than anything the Indiana Pacers could offer.
That was the whole focus of the latest Locked in a Celtics podcast, which is built-in below. It goes into even deeper details about what TPE is and other questions about how it is used. You can subscribe to the podcast at Google,, Apple,, Stitch, or Spotifyor there are podcasts everywhere else.