The Celtics would probably qualify.
Even at 21-22, Boston has impressive young talent. The Celtics would be even more formidable with Gordon – though it could get complicated with a larger deal that also includes Evan Fournier and Marcus Smart.
The Boston Celtics are considered the frontrunners to add Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon via trade, multiple sources confirmed to The Action Network Monday night. While the framework of a deal is in active discussion and considered the leading offer, sources say no deal has been agreed upon and the Magic are expected to continue to take offers up until Thursday’s deadline.
Boston, multiple sources confirmed, has offered two first-round picks.
Additionally, the framework involves Evan Fournier going to Boston, with the Celtics sending a player, the two picks, and using their Traded Player Exception from the Gordon Hayward trade.
As to the player, negotiations continue with the Magic preferring Marcus Smart while Boston is reluctant to part with their longtime emotional heartbeat and All-Defensive Team guard.
The Celtics could fit Gordon into their trade exception. They’d have to match Fournier’s $17.5 million salary.
But Smart (assuming he’s healthy) is better than Fournier.
So, Boston could be offering to pay too high of a price.
That said, it’s impossible to judge the value of the first-round picks without knowing their protections. Gordon would also be more valuable to the Celtics if he’d sign an extension. Boston could use other players (like Tristan Thompson) for salary-matching rather than Smart.
With Gordon Hayward’s departure, the Celtics lost a lot of the versatility that made them flourish. Though Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have played well this season, Boston had a major competitive advantage with three wings whom opponents had to account for. Gordon and Fournier could help replace some of that production – Gordon more so from the interior, Fournier more so on the perimeter.
As much as Gordon and Fournier would help the Celtics, I’d be surprised if Boston send Smart to Orlando. But there are plenty of structures this deal could take by Thursday’s trade deadline.