The Boston Celtics did sign Gordon Hayward in free agency, but they may have to move players like Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder or Marcus Smart for cap space.
The Boston Celtics made a huge splash in free agency already, as they were able to sign former Utah Jazz All-Star swingman Gordon Hayward. Boston now has a big three in Hayward, point guard Isaiah Thomas and center Al Horford to appropriately challenge LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference.
However, cap space looks to be tight in Boston and general manager Danny Ainge might have to trade a few high-end rotational players to get back in the black. So who could be on the way out of Boston to make room for Hayward?
According to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski, “The Boston Celtics have been aggressively trying to create enough salary-cap room to give Gordon Hayward the four-year $128 million maximum contract he agreed upon by discussing trades involving Marcus Smart, Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley.”
Shelburne and Wojnarowski’s colleague Ian Begley on the New York Knicks beat acknowledges that Boston has reached out the Knicks on Smart, but it’s debatable how much the Knicks have in him.
Boston has already made big man Kelly Olynyk an unrestricted free agent by outright releasing him. He’ll command a decent salary from a team in need of solid depth down low. Olynyk was the best player in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the emerging rival Washington Wizards.
Olynyk, Bradley, Crowder and Smart will all garner interest from other clubs. Bradley is a defensive wiz and frankly the best player that Ainge has drafted in some time. Crowder is in essence a LeBron stopper physically, but still has to room to grow as a player. Smart can’t shoot, but the guy is pure hustle and can defend about as well as Bradley can.
Look for Ainge to deal at least one of those three players, hoping to get a highly coveted asset like a future draft pick in a glorified salary dump. With Hayward, Boston might be better equipped to contend with the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals. However, his addition means Boston will lose at least two key rotational players in the process.