By trading Gordon Hayward’s new four-year, $120 million contract to the Charlotte Hornets, the Boston Celtics have created the largest traded player exception (TPE) in NBA history, a useful asset going forward.

The TPE is equal in value to Hayward’s reported first-year salary of $28.5 million and can be used to acquire a player or players who make up to that amount plus $100,000. It is essentially a loophole to circumvent the salary cap’s constraints, allowing Boston to trade for a player’s contract without matching salary in return. The Celtics can also apply that $28.5 million or a portion thereof to claiming a player’s contract off waivers.

The sign-and-trade transaction, along with the addition of Tristan Thompson for the non-taxpayer’s midlevel exception, bars the Celtics from exceeding $138.9 million in player salaries during the 2020-21 season. The signings of Thompson and Jeff Teague will bring Boston’s payroll roughly $21.8 million shy of the hard cap. Without additional moves, the Celtics can only add a player or players who fit into that $21.8 million figure.

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