Kyrie Irving is reportedly set to leave the Celtics for the Nets. Al Horford also made clear he was done with Boston. So, the Celtics were planning to use the resulting cap space on Kemba Walker, which would push out Terry Rozier.
But what if Horford wants to stay in Boston?
Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer:
Sam Amick of The Athletic:
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Acquiring Walker in a sign-and-trade would allow the Celtics to remain over the cap. They could keep Horford’s cap hold on the books then use his Bird Rights to re-sign him. They’d also have access to the mid-level exception.
By losing Walker, the Hornets will get breathing room below the luxury tax. But they’d still be over the cap, leaving the $9,258,000 mid-level exception to sign outside free agents. Trading for Rozier could give Charlotte a better point guard than the mid-level exception would draw.
The big challenge will be getting Brooklyn to participate. They have enough cap space to sign Irving outright. Doing a sign-and-trade would help an Eastern Conference competitor. The Nets will need significant draft picks as enticement.
Even if the Celtics offer that and handle the base-year-compensation issues with Irving, Rozier and Walker (which is why both Irving and Rozier would have to be involved), Boston would be hard-capped this season. A team that acquires a player in a sign-and-trade is hard-capped at $138,928,000. The Celtics could sign Walker and Horford and keep their team salary below that threshold, but there’s not much breathing room.