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.