Forsberg: How Celtics can use KD sweepstakes to bolster their roster originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
All eyes are on the Kevin Durant sweepstakes after his trade request from the Brooklyn Nets, but the Boston Celtics’ biggest interest should be on simply aiding his departure.
There is a worthy debate about whether the Celtics should be willing to part with the ransom it will take to pry the future Hall of Famer away from the Nets with four years remaining on his contract. We’re on record as being leery of any cost that starts with Jaylen Brown.
What’s more intriguing to us is the possibility of Boston maximizing its bevy of traded player exceptions to help facilitate a Durant deal -- particularly one that lands him in the Western Conference -- and bolstering its bench in the process.
Durant’s preferred landing spot is reportedly Phoenix, which could headline a trade package with the young, defensive-minded combo of Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges, along with future first-round picks.
The trouble is that, by receiving Ayton in a sign-and-trade, the Nets would be hard-capped and already have an expensive roster. Further complicating matters is something called base-year compensation, which essentially means Ayton counts for less money in an outgoing trade than his total cap charge, which makes it even more complicated for the Nets to absorb enough salary without going over the luxury tax apron that they cannot cross once hard-capped.
That’s where the Celtics could swoop in. With their collection of traded player exceptions, including the $17.1 million Evan Fournier TPE, the C's can take on a variety of salary without sending out matching money.
If the Nets had to cut their bottom line to facilitate a deal, the Celtics could take back Seth Curry ($8.5 million) and supercharge their bench offense. Or Boston could take on some of the outgoing salary from Phoenix, maybe reeling in old friend Jae Crowder ($10.2 million) or 26-year-old forward Cam Johnson ($5.9 million).
The Celtics should be leery about the idea of breaking up the core of their team on the heels of a Finals appearance to roll the dice on a 34-year-old with a recent injury history, regardless of how talented Durant clearly is.
But the Celtics absolutely need to be opportunistic with the ability to help facilitate Durant’s next home as it could lead to a prize far greater -- and cheaper -- than what’s otherwise available with their TPEs and midlevel exception.