As everyone wonders whether the Boston Celtics will consider trading the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, we must remember that they also have cap space.
That’s what, in large part, makes their situation truly unique. They can carve out max room and still have the No. 1 pick. Or they can sign a star, then trade that selection (after they’ve used it). They can use the top choice to trade for a star outright, using only cap space to absorb him. They could stand pat and just draft Markelle Fultz. They have so many options, and pursuing Gordon Hayward remains one of them.
“The next step for this team, that’s got to be Gordon Hayward,” Mannix said on CSNNE’s “Celtics Pregame Live.” “That is a guy who can help this team immediately. And that’s a guy I believe is Boston’s No. 1 target this summer.”
Hayward’s max will run the Celtics about $30.3 million in Year 1. They can carve out roughly $29.6 million by waiving Tyler Zeller and Jordan Mickey, while renouncing free-agent holds on Kelly Olynyk, Amir Johnson, Jonas Jerebko and all other free agents. (This number will fall to about $26 million if Guerschon Yabusele and Ante Zizic come to the NBA.) Boston can either hope for a larger-than-expected salary-cap number or find a taker for Demetrius Jackson to make up the difference.
Are they willing travel such lengths for Hayward? Probably. The Olynyk part of it is most troublesome. He’s a valuable rotation player. But the alternative to keeping him would be dealing Avery Bradley. That makes some semblance of sense if they’re holding onto the No. 1 pick and/or landing Jimmy Butler—especially with Bradley prepping for free agency in 2018.
But these are questions for another day, if and when Hayward proves he’s willing to leave the Utah Jazz. Until the Celtics know the answer to that, the sate of their roster and their approach to the offseason will remain in flux.