According to an NBA source, the Celtics created a $6.9 million trade exception in the three-team deal they completed Wednesday in which Juancho Hernangomez was sent to the Spurs and P.J. Dozier and Bol Bol came to Boston from the Nuggets.
To acquire Dozier and Bol, who are under contract for $1.9 million and $2.1 million, respectively, the Celtics used their remaining $5 million trade exception that was created in last May’s deal in which Kemba Walker was traded to the Thunder, the source said.
The rest of the Walker trade exception would have expired in May. The Celtics will now have one year to use their new $6.9 million exception, a small bonus in a move that was mostly completed to clear salary.
By shedding Hernangomez’s deal the Celtics pushed within about $1.7 million of the luxury-tax line, and they will be able to slide below it with another minor move or two. The Celtics created an open roster spot Jan. 7 when they waived veteran forward Jabari Parker before his salary became fully guaranteed.
Dozier, who was a two-way contract player for the Celtics in 2018-19, is out for the season after tearing his ACL in November, and Bol is expected to be sidelined for 2-3 months after undergoing foot surgery this week. But the 7-foot-2-inch forward could still return this season, giving the Celtics a look at him before he enters restricted free agency this summer.
“I’ve seen [Bol] quite a bit at Oregon before he got hurt there playing with Payton [Pritchard],” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said before Wednesday night’s loss to the Hornets. “I know about him. Intriguing guy who can do a lot of things, obviously, and he’s a guy that’s a restricted free agent, so we can retain his rights and get a good look at him over the next few months.”
The Celtics acquired Hernangomez from the Grizzlies in September, but he never became part of the regular rotation. In 18 games with the Celtics, he averaged 1.1 points and 1.4 rebounds.
“I loved his approach, the work he continued to put in and him being professional in cheering on the guys,” Udoka said. “I think it’s a tough situation and one of the toughest as coaches is finding minutes for everybody, and honestly, it was nothing that he didn’t do. It was more so what Grant [Williams] did early on shooting the ball and some of the defensive things. And at times we’ve just gone with small lineups with Romeo [Langford], some of those guys. Hopefully, for him, it’s a better situation where he’ll have a better opportunity. We talked about it as a team today and we’ll wish him well going forward.”
Smart cleared but out
Celtics guard Marcus Smart has cleared COVID-19 protocols, but on Wednesday he missed his fifth consecutive game as he works to regain his conditioning.
Also, Aaron Nesmith sat out because of a sprained ankle and Robert Williams missed his second game in a row following the birth of his child.
Where do we stand?
The Celtics entered the game in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, but also just 5½ games behind the Bulls and Heat, who are in a virtual tie for first.
Celtics forward Al Horford said Tuesday he has paid more attention to the standings this season than ever before, and guard Josh Richardson on Wednesday said he’s stayed informed with some help from his family.
“You try not to pay too much attention to it, but yeah, my dad kind of sends me where we are, and what we need to do to get into what place,” Richardson said, smiling. “I know we’re what, in 10th? Eighth? I know we’re four games out of sixth. If we put a nice little stretch of games together, we’ve won seven of our last 10, if we can do that for the rest of the year then we’ll be in good shape.”
Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @adamhimmelsbach.