Hayward will sign a max deal of four years and $128 million, meaning it won’t be easy for the Celtics to fit him under the salary cap. In order to make room for Hayward, they will need to part ways with a number of lower-level players – and likely at least one core piece.
The speculation began soon after the initial reports that Hayward would be choosing the Celtics, as the Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett (among others) tweeted that teams were already asking the C’s which players would be available for a trade in the event of a Hayward signing. ESPN’s Bobby Marks added on Tuesday night that the Celtics have a “series of transactions” to make in order to create enough space for Hayward.
One of those moves was to renounce the contract of Kelly Olynyk and make him an unrestricted free agent, which has already happened. They would also need to jettison the contracts of Jonas Jerebko, Gerald Green, James Young, Jordan Mickey, and Demetrius Jackson, whether via waivers or trade.
According to Marks, that would leave the Celtics with $27.6 million in cap space, which would force them to trade the contract of one of their core rotation players – namely Marcus Smart, Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley, or Terry Rozier.
Crowder would make the most sense from a basketball standpoint, as the Celtics are now top-heavy with a logjam at small forward with Hayward, Jaylen Brown, and Jayson Tatum. But Bradley would represent the most immediate need to extract value as he is entering the final year of his contract. Crowder is signed for three more seasons at an average cap hit of just $7.3 million according to Spotrac.
Smart, meanwhile, is signed for the 2017-18 season at about $4.5 million and has a club option remaining on his deal for $6 million. He is still just 23 years old and would give a new team solid value with some upside to boot.
A trade is very likely to take place in the coming days as the Celtics are forced to create more space to get Hayward signed. The only question is who gets moved.