Landing Gordon Hayward was always going to come with a sacrifice for the Boston Celtics and that consequence manifested in trading away Avery Bradley.
The 26-year-old guard was dealt along with a second-round pick to the Detroit Pistons for forward Marcus Morris yesterday.
In order to fit Hayward’s 2017-18 salary of $29,727,900 – as part of a four-year, $128 million maximum contract – under the salary cap, Boston were forced to shed money owed to either Bradley, Jae Crowder or Marcus Smart.
While Crowder appeared to be the odd man out following the addition of forwards Hayward and third overall draft pick Jayson Tatum, his team-friendly contract, which has three years at less than $21 million in total, makes him a valuable, cost-controlled asset.
The decision on who to trade for Celtics general manager Danny Ainge was likely coming down to Smart and Bradley, who are both set to hit free agency next summer along with fellow guard and face of the franchise Isaiah Thomas.
Keeping all three backcourt players at their expected prices was going to be nearly impossible, especially with Thomas likely to receive a massive payday.
Though Bradley has developed into one of the best two-way guards in the league, he’s also in-line for earn a big contract in a year’s time.
Smart, meanwhile, will be a restricted free agent, meaning Boston can match any offer sheet from other teams, potentially curbing his value. At 23, he’s also three years younger than Bradley and similarly imposing on defence, while being a better ball-handler and playmaker, though a much worse shooter.
By trading Bradley, Boston were also able to bring back more salary than they could have by moving Crowder or Smart, with Morris offering more depth in the frontcourt at minimal cost – two years and just over $10m left on his contract.
The twin brother of Washington forward Markieff Morris, Marcus fits the Celtics ethos as a versatile wing capable of defending multiple positions.