The $17.1 million traded player exception (TPE) that the Boston Celtics created when they dealt veteran guard Evan Fournier to the New York Knicks last summer expired on Monday night without the Celtics putting it to use. The Celtics could have added a player, or players, via trade for up to $17.1 million in salary, but they ultimately didn’t add anyone using the exception. Prior to its expiration, the exception was the league’s largest.
Per the NBA, trade exceptions are created when a team sends out salary in a trade without taking any back. The exception can then be used to trade for a player, or multiple players, with salaries up to the amount of the exception without adding to the team’s cap and luxury-tax liabilities. Such exceptions expire after a year, and they are only available to teams without cap space.
The fact that the Celtics allowed the exception to expire isn’t especially surprising. After all, the team already has seven players on the roster that will make more than $10,000,000 next season following their recent acquisition of Malcom Brogdon via trade. The team is deep, too, so it’s not like they had an open roster spot that needed to be filled. Earlier this month, MassLive reported that the Celtics were indeed likely to let the exception expire:
With the Brogdon trade, the Celtics have added another $10 million in salary for next season, putting them further into the NBA luxury tax with a substantial increase in their budget from last year. That move makes them a lot more unlikely to make a high-priced acquisition with the Fournier TPE per league sources. That part of the budget was used to land Brogdon, a more appealing fit than a lot of higher-salaried players available that could have fit into the TPE.
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So, basically, following the addition of Brogdon — and his contract — the Celtics simply didn’t feel the need to add another player at a salary up to $17 million, or at least they didn’t find an attractive deal in time. The Celtics could have used the TPE on a significant roster upgrade, and they got that in Brogdon.
But, just because Boston didn’t capitalize on this particular exception doesn’t mean that they don’t have any other avenues for improvement. The team still has several other TPEs that they could put to use either before the start of the season or prior to the trade deadline in February. In fact, of all of the league’s 30 teams, the Celtics still have the most active exceptions. In all, the Celtics still have six other active TPEs, including a $6.9 million exception they generated from trading Juancho Hernangomez and a $5.9 million exception from when they traded Dennis Schroder. It will be interesting to see if they find a better use for those exceptions than they did with the one from the Fournier trade.