Having reportedly gained a DPE, who could Celtics sign to replace Gordon Hayward?

The Boston Celtics have rebounded well from the loss of Gordon Hayward on opening night, winning their last three games to move to 3-2 on the season. Kyrie Irving and Al Horford have shouldered a bigger scoring load than they were expected to this season, and youngsters like Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum have stepped up in Hayward’s absence. Still, the team will find it difficult over the course of the season to replace the production they were expecting to get from their big free agent signing.

One way they can help fill the void is by using the disabled player exception, which they have reportedly acquired according to Shams Charania of The Vertical.

An explanation of how the DPE works, via ESPN’s Bobby Marks:

The Celtics would be eligible to apply for the Disable Player Exception based on the Gordon Hayward injury. The exception would be worth $ 8.4M and Boston would have up until March 10 to use. The Celtics with an open roster spot can sign, claim or trade for a player that has one-year left on his contract.

Here are a few potential options the Celtics could look at to utilize the DPE. 

Free agents

  • Gerald Green: This one makes the most sense. Green was on the Celtics last season, so he’s already familiar with the coaches, roster, and system. Plus, as he showed last season in the playoffs, he’s capable of providing a scoring boost.
  • Brandon Rush: Rush, one of the Milwaukee Bucks‘ last cuts before training camp, has dealt with a multitude of injuries in the past few seasons, but when healthy has been a strong 3-point shooter with a career average of 40.2 percent. 
  • Mike Dunleavy: Dunleavy is 37, and clearly well past his prime, but if they want to go the veteran free agent route, he’s one that’s out there. Along with Rush, he’s another guy that could give you some shooting from the outside. 
  • Matt Barnes: Barnes, obviously, comes with some baggage, and the Celtics might not want to deal with the distractions he could potentially bring. However, he is a tough, capable veteran who could eat some minutes on the wing.

Trade options

  • Corey Brewer: This is the last year of Brewer’s contract, which fits the DPE rules on trading for players, and the Lakers have little use for him on their rebuilding squad — especially with the emergence of Kyle Kuzma. Plus, his salary fits into the exception. 
  • Ersan Ilyasova: Another vet in the final year of his deal, whose salary fits into the exception, and is on a rebuilding squad. Ilyasova is not eligible to be traded until Dec. 14, however, as he signed a new contract this offseason.

Waiver wire

The Celtics have until March 10 to use the exception, so they could decide to just wait to see who gets waived. As was the case last spring, there’s likely to be a number of players cut loose toward the end of the season. 

It is important to note that the DPE does not give the Celtics an extra roster spot, so if they want to acquire someone through the exception, they will need to move someone currently on the roster. Looking at their roster, it’s likely that would wind up being Abdel Nader, who impressed last season on the Celtics’ G-League team. 

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