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NBA AM: The Celtics Still Shopping For A Deal

The Boston Celtics had a good offseason so far, but they seem to be the most active team in the NBA in trying to make another move… There is still cap money out there; who has the most?

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The Celtics Still Looking

While the Boston Celtics so far have come away with a few pieces they really liked in both the NBA Draft and free agency, there is still a sense among NBA insiders that Danny Ainge and company would still like to pull off a bigger trade.

The Celtics, for most of the last year, have been as active as anyone on the trade front, trying to pry away an impact player using the treasure trove of young players and draft picks the team has collected over the last few seasons. During the march up to the draft, the Celtics tried to engage on guys like Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler and Milwaukee Bucks swingman Khris Middleton, only to find little interest from those two teams.

The Celtics ended up drafting Jaylen Brown with their highest draft picks and were very pleased with how he played during Summer League. In free agency, the Celtics netted former Atlanta Hawks forward Al Horford. But even with two new parts in the puzzle, league sources continue to label the Celtics as being one of the most aggressive teams in trying to consummate a trade.

While some of the names said to be available are not nearly as sexy as say Butler or Middleton, the Celtics continue to look for deals.

There is a sense the Celtics would love to pry away Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward, who has a player option next year, which few in the NBA believe he’ll exercise meaning he’ll likely be an unrestricted free agent. There were rumors around the draft that Hayward would welcome a trade, but Jazz sources downplayed any reported unhappiness. Still, there is a real risk that Hayward could walk next July.

Jazz sources said it’s highly unlikely the team even considers a trade for Hayward, but that won’t stop the Celtics from checking the temperature there as teams head into the new NBA season in late September.

Another name to watch is Milwaukee’s Greg Monroe, as there is a continued belief that the Bucks would like to move Monroe. While his fit next to Al Horford seems like an unlikely pairing, there is a sense that the asking price on Monroe is not that high.

The Sacramento Kings have been fairly aggressive in trying to find a trade partner to offload forward Rudy Gay and he too may not require a ton in return.

The Celtics still have just north of $15 million in usable cap space, so they could absorb a big contract without needing to worry about matching salary numbers.

As much as Celtics fans may want to see the team swing for the fences in a trade, there is a reality that the major names may not be going anywhere and if the Celtics want one more impact-level player, they may have to trade for what’s available to them.

The upside on both Hayward and Monroe is both have option years next season and could be free agents, so if the marriage is not a good one, there is no long-term risk; but at the same time, giving up a ton of assets for what could be a one-year rental may not make a lot of sense either.

It’s easy to lock in on Hayward as the best long-term option, especially due to his history with Celtics coach Brad Stevens, but the truth of that situation is the Jazz are not overly interested in moving Hayward and to get them to the table may cost a lot more than the Celtics wants to spend.

There are transaction cycles in the NBA and while the Celtics would like to make more moves, they can’t force another team to the table. The next wave of trades likely gets looked at going into training camp, so the noise around the C’s may not die down anytime soon.

Not All Of The Money Is Gone

While NBA teams committed more than $1 billion in new contract money in the first three days of free agency in a spending frenzy never before seen in basketball, there are still some teams with real money to spend (and some of them could have a lot of money to spend if they really wanted to).

Franchise Total Salary Cap Room
Philadelphia $68,845,923 $25,297,077
Denver $68,855,868 $25,287,132
Brooklyn $75,318,224 $18,824,776
Oklahoma City $77,725,261 $16,417,739
Boston $78,386,365 $15,756,635
Minnesota $80,541,446 $13,601,554
Phoenix $80,900,983 $13,242,017
Utah $83,674,153 $10,468,847
LA Lakers $86,185,537 $7,957,463
Indiana $88,822,054 $5,320,946
New Orleans $90,674,379 $3,468,621
Houston $92,407,429 $1,735,571
Milwaukee $93,184,678 $958,322

*** Keep in mind capholds can impact these figures. For a complete break down of NBA Salaries, take a look at the team-by-team breakdowns.

As things stand today, 13 NBA teams still have room under the $94.143 million NBA salary cap – with the Philadelphia 76ers having the ability to create the most cap room of any team sitting at just over $25.297 million. The Denver Nuggets also have the means to get to $25.287 million but are they are least likely to spend it given the construct of their roster.

On the low end of the remaining salary teams, the Milwaukee Bucks have just $958,322 left under the cap, while the L.A. Lakers, Indiana Pacers, New Orleans Pelicans and Houston Rockets all come in under $8 million or less in remaining wiggle room.

There is currently just one team over the $113.287 million NBA Luxury tax line: the L.A. Clippers, who are $472,601 million over the tax.

In total, the 30 NBA teams have $2.795 billion in committed salaries so far for the 2016-17 NBA season, with $168.885 million still left that can be spent under the cap.

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Steve Kyler is the Editor and Publisher of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA and basketball for the last 17 seasons.

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