Players the Celtics could acquire with the $6.2 million trade exception from the Grant Williams sign-and-trade.

Former Boston Celtics forward Grant Williams was dealt to the Dallas Mavericks this offseason, but there’s still a way he can help his old team out. Ahead of the NBA trade deadline on February 8th, the Celtics could opt to use the $6.2 million trade exception (TPE) generated from the Williams sign-and-trade.

Although the Celtics are a league-best 31-9, it doesn’t hurt to search for more depth. Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens isn’t shy about making moves either, so there’s a good chance Boston’s front office is active at the deadline.

Of course, the C’s shouldn’t feel obligated to execute a major trade. Instead, they can use the trade exception, which allows them to acquire someone with a salary of up to $100K more than the aforementioned $6.2 million. There aren’t many elite players making less than $6.4 million per year, yet that doesn’t mean Boston can’t find a solid addition.

Here are the three best trade options the Celtics have with Grant Williams’ $6.2 million TPE prior to the 2023-24 NBA trade deadline.

3. Saddiq Bey, Atlanta Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks are at an important juncture. They can either continue with their current core or blow it all up in the middle of the season.

While having a fire sale seems more drastic, it may be necessary. They’re 16-23 with pretty much the same roster as last season, which ended with them losing in the first round of the playoffs to the Celtics. If Atlanta does choose the nuclear option, it could offer up forward Saddiq Bey.

The 24-year-old is only earning $4.5 million per year and would easily fit Boston’s TPE. This season, he’s averaging 13 points, 1.1 steals, and a career-high 6.6 rebounds per game. He can use his athleticism to sky for rebounds and his 6-foot-7 frame to work inside, making him a versatile player.

Also, since he was on talented and well-coached squads at Villanova, he hustles and does the dirty work former Wildcats are known for in the NBA (see New York Knicks forward Josh Hart). Bey is reliable as well, scoring at least 10 points in 11 of his last 12 games.

Although his 33% 3-point percentage this season isn’t ideal for a Celtics team that loves to shoot triples, he can still catch fire. During the 2022-23 season, he shot 40% from beyond the arc and when he was with the Detroit Pistons in 2021, he went a perfect 7-for-7 from 3-point land and notched 30 points and 12 rebounds against the Celtics. Even though Bey isn’t setting career highs across the board, he can still provide a team with solid minutes off the bench, which is all Boston would really want.

The Celtics’ 2023-24 roster doesn’t seem to have many weaknesses, but it could benefit from more center depth.

Boston’s big man depth chart includes Kristaps Porzingis, Al Horford, Luke Kornet, and Neemias Queta. Porzingis and Horford do most of the work, yet the former occasionally rests for injury management and the latter doesn’t play the second leg of back-to-backs. Furthermore, Kornet plays just 14.2 minutes per game and Queta splits his time between the NBA and G-League.

So, there’d be some rotation room for Chicago Bulls center Andre Drummond. The 30-year-old is only getting paid about $3.4 million this year despite still being a beast on the boards. He’s played in every game for the Bulls and averages 7.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in 16 minutes per outing. Even though the Celtics are a good rebounding team, it wouldn’t hurt to have another big man backing up Porzingis and Horford who’s also a potential upgrade over Kornet and Queta.

A lot of teams seem to be testing the trade waters before the deadline, but the Toronto Raptors already dove in.

The 15-25 Raptors traded forward OG Anunoby in late December and they’re possibly moving two-time All-Star Pascal Siakim, too. Therefore, it’s not hard to imagine them dealing 30-year-old forward Otto Porter Jr.

The former Georgetown standout has only played 15 games this season and averages just 11.6 minutes per outing. However, he’s still a solid shooter who can contribute off the bench.

The Celtics know that better than anyone, as Porter Jr. had some crucial minutes against Boston in the 2022 NBA Finals for the Golden State Warriors. That season, he proved that he could help a championship-caliber team while playing limited minutes, which is exactly the role he could fill for the Celtics.

Porter Jr. is raking in $6.3 million this season, but since that’s just $100K over Williams’ TPE, he remains a possible candidate.

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