Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge has had a hectic summer, but he’s inching closer to wrapping up a major offseason for the franchise he leads.
The Celtics have been engaged in trade discussions seeking salary cap relief ever since Gordon Hayward announced his intention of signing with Boston. Now, the Celtics have to clear cap space to fit Hayward into their pay structure.
That’s left Boston calling teams around the league, trying to find the right deal. The Celtics need to cut salary, but they don’t want to lose too heavily in the exchange of talent. Ainge believes he’s found that move, and the Celtics have reportedly agreed to trade one of their core players.
The Celtics are finalizing a deal to send Bradley and their 2019 second round draft pick to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Marcus Morris, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical. Boston cuts approximately $3 million this season with Morris, clearing enough space to sign Hayward.
Morris is an interesting player for Boston. The Celtics lost Kelly Olynyk in free agency, unwilling to pay to keep the big man in green. It seems the Celtics not only cut salary in this trade, but replaced some of the rotation minutes that once belonged to Olynyk.
Losing Bradley will be painful for Boston, though. He’s one of the NBA’s best perimeter defenders, selected twice to the All-Defensive team as a Celtic. The Pistons are getting a fantastic player on an $8 million expiring contract.
This is likely the final piece the Celtics needed to figure out in order to outright sign Hayward. The Utah Jazz had been discussing a sign-and-trade with Boston, hoping to get something back in return before losing Hayward for nothing, but it’s looking more likely that the Celtics have bypassed that.
Trading Bradley was a huge decision from Ainge, who’s been protective about parting ways with talent and assets. His willingness to trade the Celtics’ top perimeter defender was no light decision, and it further points to this being the final brick in the wall to sign Hayward.
Boston is on the brink of locking in a roster that, on paper, should compete with the likes of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors. Losing Bradley was likely a painful sacrifice, but when it’s to pave the way for Hayward to sign, it was a necessary one.
Hayward to the Celtics is getting closer to finalization by the hour.