Report identifies 2 potential trade exception targets for Celtics

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In case you haven't heard, the Celtics got the biggest trade exception in NBA history in the sign-and-trade that sent Gordon Hayward to Charlotte -- $28.5 million, to be exact.

So... how will they use it, and when? Danny Ainge and Co. have the exception for one year, so they could use it now, before the March trade deadline, or next offseason.

In his latest newsletter, the New York Times' Marc Stein identifies two potential targets he believes could be traded this season and could interest the Celtics: Spurs big man LaMarcus Aldridge and Magic forward Aaron Gordon.

The 35-year-old Aldridge has a $24 million cap hit this season and is a free agent after the season, so that could be a short-term commitment. He was still pretty good last season, though, averaging 18.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.

The 25-year-old Gordon has two years left on his contract with an $18.1 million cap hit this season and $16.4 million next season, so that could be easier to fit under the cap (while the Celtics' trade exception is good for up to $28.5 million, they still have the regular salary cap to deal with). Gordon averaged 14.4 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game last season.

Stein also mentions Kings shooting guard Buddy Hield, Bulls shooting guard Zach LaVine and Cavaliers big man Kevin Love as players who could be dealt in-season, but he doesn't connect any of them to the Celtics.

Love's cap hit exceeds the $28.5 million trade exception anyways, so the Celtics wouldn't be able to use it on him. Hield and LaVine do fall within the target range, though.

Hield is signed for four more years with cap hits of $24.9 million, $19.1 million, $19.1 million and $21 million. LaVine has two years left with a cap hit of $19.5 million each season.