Can the Boston Celtics apply for DPE and still trade Danilo Gallinari?

Boston Celtics Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Boston Celtics Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports /

With the NBA preseason starting up in less than two weeks, the Boston Celtics need to figure out what they want to do with their new free agent signing, Danilo Gallinari. Gallinari tore his ACL in his left knee a few weeks back during Italy’s FIBA World Cup qualifying game against Georgia.

The Boston Celtics were high on Gallinari, but unfortunately, he will miss the entire 2022-2023 season. Now the question is what can the Celtics do with Gallinari?

The Boston Celtics will apply for the disabled player exception

It’s hard to imagine Danilo Gallinari returning this year from his torn ACL, especially since it takes roughly nine months to recover from such an injury. With Gallinari’s history with knee injuries, that timeframe can be even longer. For now, Boston has no option but to apply for the disabled player exception.

It is a formality that the Boston Celtics receive a disabled player exception, but how would this benefit them? When applying for the DPE, the application takes a few weeks to get approved by the league. The DPE doesn’t help a lot in the trade market, because it is only worth a little over $3 million, but it would be extremely beneficial when offering the veteran minimum to a player. It would allow the Boston Celtics to sweeten the pot to an aging veteran that could help the Celtics with their lack of bench support. This exception would be extremely beneficial in the buyout market.

The Boston Celtics will have one of the NBA’s most expensive payrolls this season with a roster that currently costs roughly $170.1 million and comes with a luxury tax bill of $45.2 million — resulting in a combined payment of $215.3 million.

Boston must sign at least two more players to full-time contracts. With that said, once they do they will be bringing their luxury tax payment to at least $59 million. As a result, their total expenses will exceed $230 million this season. The DPE does go against the luxury tax, so don’t be surprised if the Boston Celtics use this exception on any specific veteran, even if it’s a player that might not be their number one need.

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What team is willing to trade for Danilo Gallinari?

The Boston Celtics can still trade Gallo and receive the DPE, but the DPE application must be approved by the league first before any move is made. If the NBA accepts the Celtics’ DPE application, this can free up some money for the Celtics to trade for a mid-salary player.

The Boston Celtics will be reaching out to teams that are looking to rebuild their franchise and there is one team that comes immediately to mind — the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons are in full rebuild mode and they would be open to trading players to free up some cap space. A solid replacement for Gallinari would be the Pistons’ combo-big Kelly Olynyk. Olynyk played four seasons with the Boston Celtics and is very familiar with their style of play.

The Pistons’ big man can provide the Celtics with size, rebounding, and outside shooting, something that the Celtics lack last season. This trade won’t be easy because of the Celtics’ lack of money, but if the Celtics can move some pieces around to free up some cap space, along with the money they receive from the DPE, they can make it work.

As of now, the Boston Celtics are in a wait-and-see kind of mode. Once they receive word from the league regarding their DPE application, they might be more active, but don’t be surprised if the Celtics roll into the season with the roster they have now. It is a long NBA season and the money they receive from the disabled player exception would become more beneficial come the trade deadline.

For all Celtics fans out there, be patient and trust the process.

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