Celtics-Nets trade is the gift that keeps on giving

Celtics-Nets trade is the gift that keeps on giving
July 9, 2014, 6:00 pm
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Nobody was thrilled to watch Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett get traded to the Brooklyn Nets last offseason.

But it did help that the Celtics got a king's -- check that, two kings' -- ransom back in the deal. And, as we discovered Wednesday, it's a gift that keeps on giving.

Coming back to Boston was Gerald Wallace (and his massive contract), Kris Humphries (reportedly not going to re-sign with Boston), MarShon Brooks (see ya later), Kris Joseph (we barely knew ye . . . again), Keith Bogans (more on him in a bit) and not one, not two, but three first-round draft picks (2014, 2016, 2018), as well as the right to swap first-round picks with the Nets in 2017.

Not too shabby. Thanks, PP and KG. And good luck.

Clearly, the C's didn't make this trade for the players they received back. They did it for the draft picks, which they hope to stockpile and then flip for talent down the road. (Note: it hasn't happened yet.)

But along with that haul was another huge, relatively unnoticed (by the casual fan) detail: The Celtics also got a $10.3 million trade exception.

What's a trade exception? Hardwoodhoudini.com had a solid post Tuesday explaining it, along with a handful of other key words you'll hear this summer. The extreme sparknotes version: A trade exception is given out when one team (over the salary cap) moves more salary than it gets in return. In this case, the Celtics' exception was $10.3 million that they had one year to use from the day it was given out (July 12), or it would expire.

Well, we can partially thank LeBron James' will-he-won't-he dance with Cleveland as a reason the C's deal with Brooklyn last year just got that much sweeter.

Boston used its exception today, two days before it was set to expire. The Cavs needed to clear enough cap space to offer James a max contract. That's where C's GM Danny Ainge and the Celtics' $10.3 million came in.

The Cavs traded three players in the three-team deal that included the Nets. Cavs center Tyler Zeller was traded to the Celtics, while Cavs point guard Jarrett Jack and shooting guard Sergey Karasev were traded to the Nets. The Nets also traded shooting guard Marcus Thornton to the Celtics. Boston gives up a heavily-protected future second-round pick to Cleveland.

But the best part of the deal is that, yes, the Celtics got another pick -- a 2016, top-10 protected first-round pick from the Cavs (protected through 2018, unprotected in 2019).

You can essentially add that to the three picks they got from Brooklyn last offseason and say the C's got four first-round picks in the deal, not to mention Zeller, a young 7-foot center whom the Celtics control under a rookie deal for another two seasons. Including the 2014 NBA Draft, the Celtics have 10 first round picks (with the possibility of 11 if the Sixers make the playoffs next season . . . ) through 2019.

And that Brooklyn deal still may keep giving! Nothing has happened with Bogans yet, who has two non-guaranteed years left on his deal at $5.3 million per season. Why is this important? Because Bogans can be included in a deal to match salaries (think high salaries here) with the player(s) being traded to Boston, and then waived by the team he was traded to, taking that money off their books. As we just saw with the Cavs' deal, freeing up cap space will cost ya. That's Bogans' value to the Celtics and that's why Celtics owners have essentially paid lots of money to hold him hostage on the team since acquiring him last season.

As I said: Not too shabby.