The Boston Celtics finally completed their draft night trade with the Memphis Grizzlies, but with a twist. Boston will send Enes Kanter, who recently opted in for just over $5 million for the 2020-21 season, to the Portland Trail Blazers in a three-team deal.
The deal will also see Boston send the draft rights to Desmond Bane to Memphis. Bane was drafted with the 30th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
Kanter played one season in Boston and averaged 8.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. He played 16.9 minutes per game, mostly as a backup to Daniel Theis.
For his part, Kanter seems excited to be headed back to Portland:
Home Sweet Home ❤️— Enes Kanter (@EnesKanter) November 20, 2020
In 23 games with the Trail Blazers at the end of the 2018-19 season, Kanter averaged 13.1 points and 8.6 rebounds. He then started for Portland during the 2019 playoffs after Jusuf Nurkic was injured.
Boston will create a trade exception of $4.767 million in this deal, as they are taking no salary back for Kanter.
This deal, combined with the recent opt out decision by Gordon Hayward, has Boston well below the luxury tax. That gives Boston plenty of wiggle room to use the full Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception of $9.258 million, as well as possibly the Bi-Annual Exception of $3.623 million.
In addition, the increased flexibility creates room for a potential sign and trade involving Gordon Hayward. That would allow the Celtics to take back additional salary in a deal. Or if Hayward re-signs in Boston, the Celtics could still have the ability to use the full MLE without worry of crossing over the hard cap.
Because this transaction between Boston, Memphis and Portland is taking place at the tail end of the 2019-20 league year, it is now official. Free agent negotiations open at 6:00 PM ET on Friday evening, and then the league year changes over on Sunday, November 21 at 12:01 PM ET.