The Celtics traded the No. 30 pick (Desmond Bane) to the Grizzlies. For what? The question loomed even days after the NBA draft.
The finally revealed answer: To dump Enes Kanter, who exercised his $5,005,350 player option… and will join the Trail Blazers in a three-team trade.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Kanter played well for the Trail Blazers two years ago, which is why he got this current contract from Boston. He should fit well in Portland, which had a trade exception, was already capped out and needed a backup center behind Jusuf Nurkic.
Boston already had Daniel Theis as starting center, hopes Robert Williams can developed into a reliable backup and trade possibilities at the position. Unloading Kanter gives the Celtics more breathing room below the luxury-tax line/hard cap (which they’d trigger by using the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, a possibility now that Gordon Hayward has opted out).
Getting the No. 30 pick for taking Mario Hezonja‘s burdensome contract ($1,977,011 in his final season) would be an absolute heist for the Grizzlies. That suggests the draft consideration Memphis is sending Boston is significant – though not too, too significant. Though Hezonja carries negative value, he still has a minimum salary, after all.