When a team no longer wants to pay a player, Sam Hinkie is on speed dial.
The Philadelphia 76ers have made trades for Jared Cunningham, Andrei Kirilenko, Ronny Turiaf, Travis Outlaw, Marquis Teague, Keith Bogans Hasheem Thabeet – not a single one of whom has played for the 76ers this season.
Philadelphia takes and waives (or attempts to flip) these players so their previous teams don’t have to. The previous team gets cap relief and/or a trade exception, and the 76ers get a draft pick for their trouble.
But the Celtics want to make clear Philadelphia doesn’t have this market cornered.
Boston has been calling around the league over the last week, reminding GMs that Philly isn’t the only team with salary space to rent out as we approach the February 19 trade deadline.
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Thanks to the Celtics own flurry of trades, they have several trade exceptions to absorb players:
- $12,909,090 (Rajon Rondo)
- $5,000,000 (Brandan Wright)
- $2,439,840 (Austin Rivers)
- $1,334,092 (Kris Humphries)
- $625,280 (Jameer Nelson)
- $507,336 (Dwight Powell)
Those exceptions can’t be combined, so they’re not quite as flexible as Philadelphia’s cap space. But there are enough of them in varied sizes that it probably won’t matter.
The 76ers have one big advantage over Boston: They’re probably still below the salary floor. Any shortfall is charged to the team and divided among its players, so Philadelphia has to spend that money anyway. Might as well spend it in a way that convinces another team to surrender a drat pick, no matter how low.
For the Celtics, the added salary would be a real cost. So, they’ll likely be more particular about accepting dead weight – especially as they near the luxury-tax line, which they’re about $12 million shy of.
But this could be a good way for Danny Ainge to add to his treasure trove of drat picks. The Celtics aren’t trying to win this season anyway, so accepting an overpaid player with a pick attached carries only as much downside as the length of the player’s contract and the real costs associated with it.
This competition between the 76ers and Celtics is good for the rest of the league. It should drive down the cost of dumping bad contracts.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia and Boston will continue to stock up for the future.