Celtics

Clock ticking on Celtics' Disabled Player Exception

Clock ticking on Celtics' Disabled Player Exception

BOSTON – When you are rolling along the way the Celtics are, it’s hard to imagine a ton of thought is being put into shaking up the roster.
 
But when it comes to change, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has proven himself to be open to it regardless of how the team is performing at that time.

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Which is why the Celtics are very much open to using the Disabled Player Exception (DPE) they were granted by the NBA for Gordon Hayward’s left ankle injury – possibly this week.
 
Because if the Celtics want to utilize the $8.4 million exception to acquire a player and use him in a subsequent deal, they have to do it by Friday.
 
Utilizing the exception, the largest ever granted to an NBA team, would not be a major issue for the Celtics, who have an open roster spot available to sign or trade for a player without having to do any roster shuffling.
 
Boston has 16 players under contract, but only 14 have fully guaranteed contracts.  The league maximum for guaranteed contracts is 15. Boston signed rookies Kadeem Allen and Jabari Bird to two-way contracts, which do not count against a team’s guaranteed contract total.
 
If the Friday deadline comes and goes without Boston using its DPE, two other dates to keep in mind are Feb. 8 (trade deadline) and March 10 (DPE expiration date).
 
Multiple league sources tell NBC Sports Boston that the Celtics are more likely to use the DPE, if at all, closer to the trade deadline.
 
Because right now, the Celtics (21-4) have the best record in the NBA and don’t have any specifically glaring hole in their lineup.  And of the players that are knowingly available via trade, they are not viewed as players who could come and significantly bolster the Celtics’ roster. Plus, there’s a growing sense in NBA circles that the buyout market for players will be more fruitful in the coming weeks.
 
Kenneth Faried (Denver), Jahlil Okafor (Philadelphia) and Greg Monroe (Phoenix) are all players who may be in line for a buyout in the coming weeks if their respective teams can’t swing a deal for them, which would make them potential targets of the Celtics.
 
And historically, teams with a DPE typically let it expire because acquiring players who are the right fit and available, has proven a difficult match to make.

There have been 39 DPEs granted since 1995, but only 10 times have they been used.

If there is an area of concern for the Celtics, it would be the team’s lack of experience. So, if they were to use the DPE, it would in all likelihood be to add an experienced veteran who can handle being called upon to play big minutes one night and to not play at all another.  

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Kyrie's injury doesn't appear to be long-term, Morris' knee another story

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Kyrie's injury doesn't appear to be long-term, Morris' knee another story

The quad injury that will keep Kyrie Irving off the floor tonight against Chicago doesn’t appear to be a long-term issue.

The knee bruise that had Al Horford’s availability in question - NBC Sports Boston's Abby Chin says he will play tonight - isn’t a serious thing, either.

But it’s unclear just how big a deal Marcus Morris’ left knee issue is going forward.

Prior to Sunday’s 91-81 win at Detroit, the Pistons announced that Morris would miss that game as well as tonight’s matchup against Chicago.

A Yahoo Sports! report said that Morris will miss “extended time” due to the left knee injury that has resulted in him missing 13 games which includes tonight’s game.

“Just like I said the other day, when we found out that he wasn’t feeling as good, we decided that he wasn’t going to play in these two games, we’ll re-evaluate it tomorrow with our docs,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens told reporters prior to tonight’s game against Chicago. “That meeting has already been scheduled.”

Morris missed the first eight games of the season to give the left knee soreness a chance to heal and not be as sore. The Celtics began him with a minutes restriction, and increased his playing time gradually while not allowing him to play in back-to-back games.

And this latest flare-up comes at a time when Morris seemed to find a groove at both ends of the floor while providing Boston with some much-needed offensive punch off the bench.

“He played so well against Philly and Phoenix … I thought he looked really good,” Stevens said. “Played that Monday against Milwaukee and then missed the Dallas game, it’s just been kind of going back and forth. And it’s what we said from the get-go, we didn’t want that to happen. But we’ve got to figure it out for him so that he feels great.”

The Chicago Bulls will be short-handed as well tonight.

In addition to Zach LaVine (left ACL) and Cameron Payne (right foot), Chicago will also be without rookie Lauri Markkanen (back spasms) who is averaging 14.3 points and 7.9 rebounds which ranks fifth and second, respectively, among rookies this season.

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Irving out, Horford questionable for C's vs Bulls

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Irving out, Horford questionable for C's vs Bulls

We have seen the Boston Celtics reach deep into their bench this season, but nothing like what we’ll see tonight against the Chicago Bulls.

Along with Gordon Hayward (left ankle fracture) who is out for the season and Marcus Morris (left knee rehabilitation) who was ruled out for tonight’s game prior to last night’s win at Detroit, the Celtics will be without at least one of their two remaining all-star players.

Kyrie Irving has been ruled out due to a left quad contusion. And Al Horford, who briefly went to the Celtics’ locker room after a knee-to-knee collision with Pistons forward Anthony Tolliver, is question for tonight’s game with a right knee contusion.

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Horford was able to return to the Celtics’ lineup following the knee-on-knee blow, finishing with a near double-double of 18 points and nine rebounds to go with six assists.

If both Irving and Horford are unable to go, that leaves Boston void of its best scorer (Irving) and most complete player (Horford).

You have to wonder in the case of Horford, whether tonight’s opponent may factor in the decision to sit him or not.

Chicago (5-20) has the worst record in the NBA this season. And while the Celtics respect all opponents, if they are going to give guys some “strategic rest” in season, this would qualify as one of those nights considering the opponent in addition to knowing there won’t be any practice or a game tomorrow (the Celtics, like most teams, take the day off when they play back-to-back games).

We know Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and most likely Aron Baynes will be in the starting lineup. Beyond that, you're probably looking at Marcus Smart or Terry Rozier filling in for Irving, while Horford’s possible replacement will likely be from the trio of Daniel Theis, Semi Ojeleye or potentially Guerschon Yabusele.

Smart (four starts, 3-1 record) and Theis (two starts, 2-0 record) are the only ones from that group to have been in the starting lineup this season. 

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