Boston Celtics

(Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

By Alex Barth,

With the NBA’s trade deadline a month and a half away (March 25), get ready to start hearing more and more about the Celtics $28.5 million trade exception, and how the team will use it.

Speaking with 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich on Thursday, Celtics’ GM Danny Ainge was asked about the team’s current plan for the exception, which they received in the Gordon Hayward sign-and-trade before the season. Ainge said the team is actively exploring options, but don’t expect a move involving the exception in the immediate future.

“We are doing research on it. We have been all year and we’ll continue all the way up to the trade deadline, which is at the end of March,” Ainge explained. “And I think that that’s the sweet spot – most likely is latter March.”

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However, the Celtics aren’t married to a specific timeline. According to Ainge, the goal is to get the best possible return for the TPE, and not make a trade just to make a trade.

“We’d do it right now if we had a really good deal,” Ainge continued. “But the challenge is that – deals that you could do to incrementally change your team might be able to be done shortly here within the next week or two, but are you passing up a chance that could come along that would be even better down the road? And that’s what we have to try to identify.”

Among some of the Celtics rumored trade targets are JJ Redick and Aaron Gordon. However, when Ainge was asked what the team needs most, he went in a different direction.

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Instead, he labeled his team’s biggest need as “shooting with size.”

“There’s a lot of different ways you can win in this league,” he explained. “I would say that – shooting – we can use shooting. We could use passing. But you always need defense and our team is built on defense. We’ve been winning with defense over the last few years”

“I know we haven’t won a championship, but we need defense,” Ainge continued. “It’s hard to just find a shooter that can’t guard anybody and expect that person to come in and make a major change on our team. We’re looking for complete players, obviously, that can – but I think that shooting at the big position is something that we haven’t had.”

Ainge is describing a very unique kind of player, and one teams usually don’t let get away very easily. Will he be able to pry somebody free by the deadline? Or will the exception ultimately go to bolstering the oft-injured backcourt?

Click here for 98.5 The Sports Hub’s complete coverage of the Celtics.

Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at

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