The Celtics likely need to trade Smart, Crowder, or Bradley to afford Hayward's max deal
Not to be a Debbie Downer or anything, but the exciting Gordon Hayward signing also comes with some drawbacks. In order to afford the max money Hayward will receive from the Celtics, they will likely have to trade one of Marcus Smart, Jae Crowder, or Avery Bradley.
While there could potentially be a way to avoid departing with any of these guys, it would require a lot of maneuvering and moving pieces, and would still be a close call. It would likely involve shedding the rookie contracts of Demetrius Jackson and Jordan Mickey, stashing Guerschon Yabusele again, and ditching role player Terry Rozier. And even that might not get it done. That's why it seems like trading Smart, Bradley, or Crowder is likely to happen.
To be clear, Celtics will likely need to trade one of these players to allow Hayward to sign for max
Instantly after the Hayward signing, Marcus Smart emerged as the top candidate to be moved. Reports came out that Boston was calling up other teams in regards to their 23-year-old guard and with a big pay increase in store next summer, it makes sense that he is on the trading block. Danny Ainge could both clear cap space and get value now, in case they can't match offers for their restricted free agent during 2018 free agency.
Hayward's reported contract is for the full max. Boston will have work to do clearing salary. Almost has to be Smart just due to #'s
Like Smart, a hefty pay increase will be on tap next summer for Avery Bradley. Unlike Smart though, he will be an unrestricted free agent and with Isaiah Thomas also being a free agent, it will be difficult for Boston to attain their defensive stud due to financial reasons. If this is indeed the case, trading Bradley would virtually serve the same two things as a Smart trade: clear the proper space for Hayward, and get some value for a player who may walk next summer.
Jae Crowder carries a lot of trade value due to his friendly contract that won't expire until 2020. He is a serviceable role player who is always scrappy on the court, something that many teams are eager to have on their team. Yet, these are also arguments for Ainge to hold onto his wingman and part ways with one of the former two guys who are awaiting free agency next summer.
On the other hand, Hayward's natural position is the same as Crowder's. This is perhaps one of the reasons why Jae was so upset during the season when fans were cheering on Hayward when the Jazz was in town - he knew that Hayward may be his replacement. The Celtics could always slip Hayward down to the two, or move Crowder to the four and let Hayward man the small forward position, but would that work better than just keeping Bradley or Smart?
One of these guys has got to go, and personally, I would prefer Bradley. Crowder provides versatility for small ball lineups on a super affordable contract. Smart makes game-winning plays and will be easier to attain next summer. But Bradley has an expiring contract in which he will probably get some big time offers in 2018. I can't see the C's being able to keep Isaiah and Avery on the roster, so might as well get some value out of him now, right? Let me know what you think.