The Celtics can renounce all their free agents – including Kelly Olynyk, whose qualifying offer they already pulled – waive unguaranteed Jordan Mickey, convince Guerschon Yabusele to remain overseas another year and trade Terry Rozier and Demetrius Jackson.
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, sources told ESPN.
The Celtics are wise to shop all three rather than picking one to dump. The right choice depends on the return each would generate.
Crowder is the most valuable of the three. Turning 27 tomorrow, he’s locked into an absurdly cheap contract that pays him just $21,917,475 over the next three years. Crowder is a versatile and fiercely competitive defender who shoots 3-pointers efficiently, an awesome combination in the modern NBA. Even though he said he wanted to stay in Boston, Crowder seemed to know the Celtics signing Hayward could signal his exit. That’s even more likely after Boston drafted Jayson Tatum to join Jaylen Brown at forward.
Bradley is entering a contract year at age 26. He’s a lockdown perimeter defender who can make 3-pointers and has become increasingly adept as a penetrator. The only problem: He’s in line for a massive raise next summer (or a lucrative renegotiation-and-extension this summer if he lands on a team with sufficient cap space).
Smart is also entering the final year of his contract, eligible for a rookie-scale extension this offseason. He’s an aggressive defender who can handle point guards, shooting guards and small forwards. His offense remains a work in progress, and it’s unclear whether can eventually settle in as a lead guard on that end. His spotty outside shooting leaves plenty to be desired off the ball.
Again, it just depends how much other teams offer for each player. Then, Boston can pick the best net return – and sign Hayward.