The Boston Celtics finalized a sign-and-trade deal with the Hornets on Sunday, sending their two-way star, Gordon Hayward, packing after just three seasons.
It marked an unfortunate end for the Hayward era, one that was mired in tragedy for literally the first minute. But, more importantly for Boston, the deal granted them a pretty significant prize: a $27 million trade exception, the largest in NBA history.
Basically, because the Celtics traded Hayward (and his contract) without receiving any players back in the process, they are able to receive players in trades without needing to send out salary to match for the next year.
They can only absorb a player whose salary is equal to or lower than the individual exception and the exception also cannot be combined with a player's salary to take on a bigger contract, but it still opens up some opportunities for Boston.
Some early targets could include Aaron Gordon, Kelly Olynyk, PJ Tucker, or Harrison Barnes.
Boston, who finished third in the East last season, performed well above expectations, making it all the way to the Conference Finals before being eliminated by the Heat in six games.
No doubt, Danny Ainge is considering all his options at this point in time, as his ambitions frequently result in gutsy off-season trades. It will be interesting to see what he does with the TPE, and how his team is able to maintain their status as title contenders through the upcoming season.