The Boston Celtics have the potential to be one of the most active teams ahead of the 2021 NBA trade deadline.
Armed with the largest traded player exception (TPE) in NBA history thanks to the Gordon Hayward sign-and-trade, the Celtics can add an impact player via trade without having to shed salary. The TPE is valued at $28.5 million, so there are few limits to what the C's can do with it.
One potential option for the Celtics' TPE is Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon. Chris Forsberg mentioned Gordon as one of several Magic players the C's could target if the now-12th-place Magic elect to offload some pieces. The 25-year-old point forward is averaging 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game this season and would add size, athleticism, and playmaking ability to Boston's roster.
However, any potential talk of Gordon as a trade target has hit a snag. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Gordon suffered a severe left ankle sprain that will sideline him long term.
This injury will make it difficult for the Celtics to confidently pull off any deal for Gordon.
In a best-case scenario, Gordon would be able to return around March 1, more than three weeks before the league's March 25 trade deadline and just ahead of the league's All-Star break (March 5-10). That might give him enough time to prove himself as a worthy trade target.
But if he takes the full six weeks to recover, Gordon would be on track to return around March 15, 10 days before the trade deadline. That would put him in a time crunch to prove that he's healthy, and with the second half of the NBA schedule not yet released, it's impossible to know how many games he might have to work himself back into shape.
Only time will tell whether or not Gordon will be an option for the Celtics or if his injury will deplete his value. Whether they go for Gordon or not, expect Danny Ainge and the C's to be active on the trade market, and for them to be connected to plenty more trade bait over the next seven-plus weeks before the deadline.