2024 NBA buyout market: Six options for Celtics to consider originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens got busy ahead of the NBA trade deadline. But is there any work left to do?
The Celtics added two players in a span of 24 hours before Thursday’s deadline, acquiring big man Xavier Tillman from the Memphis Grizzlies and guard Jaden Springer from the Philadelphia 76ers. Neither Tillman nor Springer are game-changers offensively, but they’re both strong defenders who give the C’s some needed depth.
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By sending Lamar Stevens to Memphis and Dalano Banton to the Toronto Raptors, Boston still has an open roster spot that it can use to add a player who was bought out after the NBA trade deadline. But there’s a catch: The Celtics are a second-apron luxury tax team, and under the league’s new collective bargaining agreement, they can only sign players on the buyout market who were making under the $12.4 million non-taxpayer midlevel exception prior to being bought out.
Long story short: If a player’s 2023-24 salary was above $12.4 million before they were bought out, Boston can’t sign them.
That narrows the Celtics’ options considerably and rules out bigger names like Kyle Lowry, Spencer Dinwiddie, Davis Bertans and Marcus Morrris. But there still are a few intriguing buyout options for president of basketball operations Brad Stevens to consider.
One note: Two-way big man Neemias Queta can appear in just 12 more games for the Celtics unless they convert his contract to a full NBA deal. Queta currently isn’t taking up an NBA roster spot, but if Stevens doesn’t like what he sees on the buyout market, he could fill that final spot with Queta.
To the buyout candidates:
Previous team, 2023-24 salary: Detroit Pistons, $6.5 million
Take two? Gallinari came to the Celtics in the 2022 offseason but never played a game for Boston after tearing his ACL in August. He’s on the back nine of his career and was averaging just 7.2 points over 32 games between the Washington Wizards and Detroit Pistons, but he’s still a strong 3-point shooter who could provide offense in spurts off the bench and would be familiar with the Celtics’ system.
Current team, 2023-24 salary: Washington Wizards, $8.1 million
The Wizards haven’t indicated they’ll waive Wright, but he’d be a logical buyout candidate, especially if he wants to join a contender. The 31-year-old wing is a willing passer (6.3 assists per 36 minutes) who’s shooting 38.9 percent from 3-point range this season.
Previous team, 2023-24 salary: Toronto Raptors, $8 million
The 6-foot-8 Young is built very similarly to Tillman, but he boasts 17 years of NBA experience including 59 playoff games. If the Celtics are looking for a good locker room presence who can make well-rounded contributions in limited minutes, Young is worth inquiring about.
Previous team, 2023-24 salary: Toronto Raptors, $6.3 million
Porter was dealt from the Raptors to the Jazz, who have yet to buy him out as of Friday. If Porter does become available, the versatile, 6-foot-8 wing would be an intriguing target for the Celtics, who lost to Porter’s Golden State Warriors in the 2022 NBA Finals.
Previous team, 2023-24 salary: Philadelphia 76ers, $4.3 million
A strong defender with limited offensive upside (4.2 points per game with Philly), House might be redundant after the additions of Springer and Tillman. But the 6-foot-6 wing does have 29 games of playoff experience and would fit the “big wing” mold that Brad Stevens sought entering the deadline.
Current team, 2023-24 salary: Chicago Bulls, $3.4 million
The Celtics reportedly had interest in Drummond prior to the trade deadline. The Bulls may decide to keep their veteran big man after curiously standing pat Thursday, but if Drummond wants out of Chicago, expect Boston to be interested.
Other potential options: Killian Hayes (previous salary: $7.4 million), Robin Lopez (previous salary: $3.2 million), Cory Joseph (previous salary: $3.2 million)