The Celtics made a sensational addition to their bench last week with the acquisition of Malcolm Brogdon from the Indiana Pacers on a six-man deal.
Boston clearly benefited from a weak trade market for Brogdon after the Pacers point guard played just 36 games last season following the signing of a costly two-year extension. Once Indiana opted to head into a rebuild with the acquisition of young point guard Tyrese Halliburton at the February trade deadline, Brogdon became available this offseason. The Celtics were one of the few teams able to support Brogdon’s salary while offering long-term minimum salary commitments (Daniel Theis) as well as asset/young talent projects (protected first-round pick in 2023, Aaron Nesmith).
However, there is a glitch in the Celtics’ trade package for Brogdon that should help Boston continue to make moves as needed to improve the team’s chances. League sources tell MassLive that the 2023 first-round pick is the top 12 protected in the deal. That development isn’t remarkable on its own since Boston’s pick is extremely likely to carry over this year, barring a disastrous injury season for the Celtics that forces them out of the playoffs. The biggest part of this element of the deal is the fact that Boston’s 2023 first-round pick immediately turns into a second-round pick if he doesn’t pass in 2023, according to a league source.
Why is this important?
Normally, protected first-round picks used in NBA trades carry over their protections for years to come. For example, when the Bulls traded DeMar DeRozan from Spurs last summer on a sign-and-trade, their first-round pick sent to San Antonio was top-10 protected for the first year, top-8 protected for the next two seasons. before eventually becoming a second-round pick if either of those picks didn’t pass.
It’s a tactic that many teams use to protect themselves in future trade negotiations, but it can be very limiting when it comes to trading future picks in other potential deals. Any team that wants to deal with a future first-round pick down the line needs to work around picks that might have future protections attached to them. For example, if the Bulls wanted to deal with a future unprotected first-round pick in a trade, they could not do so without limits until a year when the top 10 protected first-round picks for DeRozan were been completed.
With the Celtics writing this unique provision in the Brogdon trade, they ensured that they would have no future first-round picks beyond 2023 limited by trading Brogdon for any trade possibilities in the present.
What does this mean for the Celtics?
Brad Stevens made the deal with Brogdon without having to use any of the team’s trade exceptions. That left the door open for Boston to make moves using one of the team’s three TPEs worth $17.1 million, $6.9 million and $5.9 million.
League sources tell MassLive that Boston is unlikely to use TPE Evan Fournier ($17.2 million) in a notable move now following Brogdon’s deal ahead of his expires later this month.
However, the Celtics will still have the option to use their smaller TPEs in this current season, almost until the trade deadline. With Boston’s draft pick in the trade package for Brogdon carrying in 2023 no matter what, the Celtics now have the option of any future draft capital in 2025 and beyond without restriction. The team’s only draft obligation beyond 2023 in the first round is a 2028 pick swap option with Spurs from the Derrick White deal.
“They wanted to be released from future trades,” a league source told MassLive.
If Boston’s front office wants to use a future unprotected first-round pick to trade for a player at one of the team’s TPEs this season, that option is now available through this provision. The same goes if the Celtics want to consolidate several unprotected first-round picks beyond 2023 for a bigger name.
There’s no guarantee the Celtics will pursue any of those paths, but it’s always good to have options when you’re a contender. Beyond the loss of a 2023 first-round pick, this Brogdon trade takes away none of those possibilities, maintaining the team’s future flexibility when it’s needed most.