The Boston Celtics have been awarded the $8.4 million “Disabled Player Exception” (DPE) to compensate for the injury suffered by small forward Gordon Hayward in the first game of the season.
A DPE is given to a team after an NBA-approved doctor rules that a player is unlikely to return to playing before June 15. That $8.4 million figure comes from the mid-level exception for this season.
This exception comes with a few rules and regulations regarding who they can sign, though. The C’s can only sign one player with this money. This means they can only get one player to fill Hayward’s roster spot, not multiple players that can add up to the $8.4 million number. They must sign either sign a free agent to a contract or acquire a player in the last year of their contract. There would also be no punishment for the team or players if Hayward was to return this season.
Among potential free agents the Celtics could sign, NBA veterans such as guard Monta Ellis, guard Matt Barnes, forward Brandon Bass and center David Lee are the few names left on the market. Ellis, despite being 37 years old, could provide some scoring off the bench.
Barnes would help provide defense on the wing, which was negatively affected by the trades of Bradley and Crowder away from Boston. Bass could provide some depth at the power forward position that hasn’t seen real consistency this year. Lee could provide some needed size down low for this team.
The Celtics could also have their eyes on a trade target, being that he fits the regulations of the exception. Lakers guard Corey Brewer could be a great fit, as he is in the last year of his contract that pays him under $8 million. The veteran doesn’t really fit with the youth-movement out in LA that sees them contending a few years from now, and so he could definitely be moved by the deadline.
Spurs small forward Kyle Anderson might also be a target for the C’s, as his contract is under $8.4 million and he is set to be a restricted free agent after this season. Only 24 years old, Anderson fits the timeline of this Celtics team, and playing behind Kawhi Leonard and Rudy Gay in San Antonio could make him more expendable.
While this exception may not allow the Celtics to replace Hayward, it could allow them to get an important role player, and it will be interesting to see what Danny Ainge does with this opportunity.