The Celtics traded the better of the Bulls and Pelicans’ second-round picks, currently Chicago at No. 41 overall, for 76ers guard Jaden Springer in a surprise addition moments before the NBA trade deadline on Thursday. In a corresponding move, Boston dealt Dalano Banton to the Trail Blazers to keep a roster spot open, only bringing back a second-round pick (top-55 protected) that’s unlikely to convey.
The move came as some surprise, even to Brad Stevens, who acknowledged last month that many teams don’t want to trade players on their rookie deals. Springer, 21, has the rest of this season and returns next year at $4 million. The Celtics acquired his bird and restricted free agency rights in the summer of 2025, along with what could amount to an important salary for future moves. Springer becomes extension-eligible this summer through October.
For now, he could potentially add more than Banton did to this roster, who scored 2.3 points per game on 37.3% FG and 12.5% three-point shooting. He signed a two-year deal last year with.a second season team option. Springer brings with him similar offensive limitations as Banton, shooting only 41.6% from the field and 23.8% from three in 50 NBA appearances. He fared better in the G-League last season, hitting 49.3% of his 14 shots per game (31.9% 3PT on 3.8 att.) before winning the leagues’s Finals MVP. Springer only appeared once with Delaware this year despite his sporadic appearances in Philadelphia’s rotation.
That the Sixers sent him to a potential playoff rival only added to the intrigue over the league’s most uncertain contender going forward due to Joel Embiid’s meniscus injury. The 76ers didn’t rule out an Embiid return this season and traded for Pacers sharpshooter Buddy Hield ahead of his free agency this summer in exchange for Furkan Korkmaz, Marcus Morris and three second-rounders. They also dumped Danuel House Jr. and appear favorited to land Kyle Lowry when the Hornets inevitably waive the Philadelphia native. The team also traded Patrick Beverley on Thursday to Milwaukee for Cam Payne in a more lateral move.
Buyout additions could explain some of the team’s decision to move on from those players, but cap space appears more pertinent. The 76ers can generate roughly $76.8-million in cap space this summer, according to Spotrac. It’s unclear how Philadelphia will fill its three open roster spots, with only 12 standard deals on the books and two weeks now to reach 14. They’re also dealing with injuries to Embiid, Robert Covington, De’Anthony Melton and Nic Batum.
Embiid underwent surgery earlier this week on his left meniscus, a procedure originally reported as a repair. Hope that he could return this season would indicate a less intrusive surgery, but the team has revealed little beyond a four-week wait until further evaluation. He emerged as a heavy MVP favorite by averaging 35.3 PPG. They’ve lost 7-of-8 to fall to the fifth seed in the east, only 3.0 games up on the Heat above the play-in line.
As for Boston, they can sign buyout candidates, including House, who made less than $12.2 million before their release. That could include House, Korkmaz, Cory Joseph, Seth Curry, James Bouknight and Killian Hayes, among low-cost players reportedly waived today. The Celtics could also assess G-League options, sign 10-day contracts or sign Neemias Queta to a standard contract, less likely for now after the addition of Xavier Tillman Sr. Stevens and MassLive reporting previously indicated Boston’s interest in a wing and Boston lost two of its bigger perimeter players in Banton and Lamar Stevens. For now, Oshae Brissett will fill that role.
Springer isn’t a shoo-in to play. His defensive production, including highlight plays like chase-downs, steals and on-ball pressure that propelled him to 24th in Kevin O’Connor’s 2021 mock draft and the 99th percentile of steal and block percentage at his position. Albeit on a small sample size of NBA playing time, Boston found a first-round talent with plenty of time left on his rookie deal, and one who Adam Himmelsbach reported received a seal of approval from Celtics and former Sixers assistant Sam Cassell.