Boston Celtics Acquire Tyler Zeller in three-way deal with Brooklyn and Cleveland

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Boston will receive, Tyler Zeller, Marcus Thornton, and the Cavaliers' 2016 protected first round pick pick.

The Boston Celtics will acquire Tyler Zeller, Marcus Thornton, a 2016 first round draft pick as a part of a three-way deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Brooklyn Nets, according to ESPN's Marc Stein. The Nets and Cavaliers have been trying to find a third team to take on Thornton's expiring contract and the Celtics were able to use part of their $10.3 million trade exception to absorb it.

The Nets will receive Jarrett Jack and Sergey Karasev, while the Cavaliers will receive something (probably a distant second round pick) as a means of creating cap space for LeBron James, who is expected to sign this week.

Trade Analysis

Tyler Zeller was the 17th pick in 2012 and made some strides in his development towards the end of last season. While he isn't the answer at the center position, he at least provides some depth, which the Celtics sorely lack. After struggling as a rookie, Zeller's production boomed once he started receiving consistent playing time as a sophomore thanks to his highly efficient skills in the pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop game.

Marcus Thornton is a complete shell of his former sell, but with an expiring $8.5 million contract, he could have loads of value as a trading chip towards the deadline in February. It's hard to envision him playing very much with Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, and Phil Pressey all ahead of him on the depth chart, but he could provide somewhat of a scoring spark off the bench if he improves his efficiency.

In addition, Boston will have over $32 million in salary coming off the books next summer (Rondo, Bass, Thornton, and Anthony), making them a prime option to sign top free agents in 2015.

Cleveland will send to Boston their 2016 first round pick, which is top ten protected in 2016, 2017, and 2018, and then unprotected in 2019. However, if Cleveland acquire LeBron, it's likely they will convey the pick in 2016, which would give the Celtics three first rounders that year. Acquiring pieces like this is exactly why Boston wanted to position themselves to react to opportunities that may arise, as the organization continues building assets to position themselves for even bigger acquisitions over the next few years.

Overall, the Boston Celtics have made perfect use of their trade exception and acquire assets that make them even more flexible moving forward. This deal is an ultimate win by the organization.

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