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.


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.  


Bean: Kawhi in Cleveland makes great theater for everyone

Bean: Kawhi in Cleveland makes great theater for everyone

Other than LeBron Watch, Kawhi Watch will likely be the most captivating Watch of the NBA offseason,  and there's obviously a chance the two end up in the same place. Regardless of what happens with LeBron, I've officially decided where I want Kawhi to land. 


I've got my reasons, but I'll start with why I'm not clamoring for the C's to get one of the five best players in the league. Yes, the C's can offer the best package, but I don't want them to make an offer the Spurs can't refuse. I don't want them to trade Jaylen Brown and the Sacramento pick for a flight risk. I don't want them to trade Kyrie Irving. I want them to be loaded, as they currently are, and set to add to that in the future. 

Leonard supposedly wants to be traded to the Lakers. The more well-connected basketball reporters have noted the Spurs wouldn't have any motivation to turn the Lakers into a Western Conference powerhouse, which makes sense. 

So, if it's not going to be the Lakers, make it the Cavaliers. 

This might sound ridiculous, but I want LeBron James to be a character in this Celtics group's run. One of the things that made the 2017-18 Celtics' run so exciting was that it culminated in a showdown with LeBron, the best player in the league and the centerpiece of great Celtics series past. 

I don't want the Celtics to go on runs with LeBron in a different time zone. I want battling (and beating) the best player of this generation to be part of what the Tatum Era does. If the Cavs can land Leonard, maybe that will keep James from bolting in free agency. 

They're also rumored to be inquiring about Kemba Walker's availability from Charlotte to help surround LeBron with another star.

To be fair, I wrote last week that I'm fine with LeBron going to the Lakers and even forming a super team with Kawhi and Paul George. That's because I think either that team or the Warriors would be all tuckered out by the time they got to the finals against a Celtics team that just waltzed through the East. 

That wouldn't be as fun though, especially if the Lakers kept getting eliminated by Golden State. If the Celtics have another championship run coming during the final years of LeBron's career, I want it to involve a Kyrie/LeBron matchup. I certainly want it to involve a competitive underdog, and I don't trust the 76ers for that yet. Considering they probably wouldn't be able to get much else, a team of LeBron, Kawhi and a bunch of junk still wouldn't be favored against the Celtics at full health. 

If LeBron goes somewhere West this offseason, I'd still want the Cavs to get Kawhi. Assuming Kawhi actually plays, he'd at least keep the Cavaliers a playoff team and an interesting opponent. 

Could the Cavaliers actually get Kawhi? I don't see why not. If his status as a player who can opt out after next season scares some teams away, the eighth overall pick and whatever they could get for Kevin Love would already make their offer better than whatever the Lakers would try to scrape together. Sacramento could always trump everyone by offering the second overall pick for Leonard, but that would be stupid. Then again, sometimes the Kings are stupid. 

Kawhi in Boston? Not at the likely price, and not if it means that much risk. LA? Predictable. Put Kawhi in Cleveland, keep the East exciting and give LeBron a real decision to make. 


BREAKFAST POD: Jaylen and Rozier for Kawhi?

BREAKFAST POD: Jaylen and Rozier for Kawhi?

1:43 - Chris Mannix joined Gary Tanguay and Kyle Draper on Early Edition to discuss if the Celtics could trade up in the draft, and if the Celtics have any chance of acquiring Kawhi Leonard.

6:35 - Phil Perry talks about Albert Breer’s report that the Patriots talked with four teams (Lions, Titans, 49ers, Texans) about trading Rob Gronkowski. We also hear from Holley, Merloni, and DJ Bean about Tom Brady commenting “cuarenta y cinco” in response to an Instagram post about when he’ll retire.

10:34 - Lou Merloni and Chris Gasper debate how important it is for the Red Sox to avoid the Wild Card play-in game and win the AL East over the Yankees.