If you've been following the Gordon Hayward saga, you may have seen reports that the Boston Celtics are still trying to work out a sign-and-trade with the Hornets after Hayward agreed to a four-year, $120 million contract with Charlotte on Saturday.
That's encouraging news for Celtics fans. If the Hornets sign Hayward outright -- which they can do by stretching Nicolas Batum's contract -- the C's get nothing in return. If Boston and Charlotte work out a deal, though, Danny Ainge could acquire a valuable asset: the traded player exception, or TPE.
Here's what that means: The Celtics technically sign Hayward to a four-year deal worth $30 million per year, then trade him to the Hornets. In return, Boston gets a $30 million TPE, which the team can use at any point in the next year to spend on a player it acquires via trade or free agency.
(A note: The sides can raise or lower that $30 million figure based on how Charlotte structures Hayward's contract. If he makes $32 million in Year 1, the Celtics would get a $32 million TPE.)
Seems like a good deal for the Celtics, right? They can land some serious talent for around $30 million and would only need to make one or two more moves to afford, say, James Harden and his massive $42.1 million cap hit for 2020-21.
There's a catch, of course: The TPE wouldn't come cheap.
"The Celtics need to pony up an asset to include in the trade with Charlotte and then, almost certainly, another asset to bring a player into the exception," The Athletic's John Hollinger wrote Sunday. "At a minimum, replacing Hayward in their salary structure will cost them two draft picks."
The C's likely would need to send a first-round pick to the Hornets to complete a sign-and-trade and land the TPE. And unless they wait until next offseason to sign a big-name free agent, they'll probably need to fork over more assets to trade for a quality player who would fill the TPE slot.
Parting with those assets may still be worth it to use the TPE on a starting-caliber player who can fill Hayward's void and help the Celtics compete for a title this season. But a sign-and-trade still would come at a further cost for Boston.