Tucked away in the cache of assets the Celtics acquired in their blockbuster deal with Brooklyn — beyond the players and draft picks that will help fast forward the renovation of a franchise — was a rather unnoticed but quite valuable piece.
A trade exception worth about $10.3 million.
That probably won’t make fans as excited as the three first-round draft picks the Celtics nabbed in the deal, as well as the chance to swap rights to a 2017 first-round pick.
Nor will it receive as much attention as MarShon Brooks, Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, and Keith Bogans, the players the Celtics received from the Nets in exchange for Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry, and D.J. White.
But a trade exception is a useful asset to have in one’s back pocket, especially for a rebuilding team.
Essentially, any team that is over the salary cap — that includes the Celtics — and wants to make a deal can’t acquire more than a certain percentage of the money it is sending out.
That is when the exception comes in. It has a one-year life from the day it is acquired and it basically can help teams that are over the cap make deals under tight financial constraints.
The Celtics have 14 signed players after waiving Kris Joseph Monday, leaving them committed to about $72 million for next season, which places them over the salary-cap line ($58.679 million) and the tax line ($71.748 million).
However, the Celtics acquired Bogans through a sign-and-trade, which, because of the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, triggered a hard cap.
That means the Celtics cannot spend more than the luxury tax “apron” (about $4 million above the tax line, or $75.75 million) at any point during the 2013-14 season. They can go over that total after June 30, 2014.
Because of the hard cap, the trade exception is likely to go unused this season unless the Celtics make moves to lower their overall salary.
But come next summer, between July 10 (when the free agent moratorium is lifted) to July 12 (when the exception itself expires), the Celtics are no longer hard-capped and the $10.3 million exception could be very valuable.
The Celtics can use the exception to help acquire players through a trade or a sign-and-trade, but not as a free agent signing.