Can Knicks offer Evan Fournier trade to Celtics using Boston’s TPE created for him last offseason?

The Celtics passed on signing Evan Fournier last offseason, instead electing to sign-and-trade him to the Knicks after he came to terms on a four-year contract worth over $ 77 million with the divisional rival

However, a unique hypothetical has emerged less than one year later involving the veteran wing. The Knicks are reportedly on the hunt for some salary cap space to go after 2022 free agents and John Gambadoro reported Thursday that New York has offered Evan Fournier back to the Celtics into the very trade exception that was created by Boston when they dealt him away last August.

Logically, this is certainly a deal the Celtics would pass on. Fournier had a down year in 2021-22 and looks overpaid with two more guaranteed years on his contract for north of $ 18 million. The Celtics can likely find far better bang for their buck on the trade market than Fournier who was a defensive liability often during his half-season in Boston. The Knicks have a number of overpaid players on their books and league sources tell MassLive that the team has been active in offering up several different players in recent weeks around the league to try to clear up significant salary cap room for the start of the free agency next week.

The other intriguing question though when it comes to Fournier is whether the move that Gambadoro is reporting (Knicks offering Fournier into the Celtics’ TPE created for him) is actually legal under NBA CBA rules. There are conflicting opinions on this among cap experts.

Larry Coon’s CBA FAQ indicates that a player traded in the offseason can be re-acquired following the end of the next season on the calendar (the last day of the NBA Finals). However, other cap experts like Eric Pincus believe the end of the next season for this purpose to be actually the end of the league calendar for the 2021-22 season (June 30th). If that’s the case, the Celtics wouldn’t be able to trade for Fournier with their TPE since his 2022-23 salary ($ 18 million) wouldn’t technically fit into their TPE ($ 17.2 million).

Either way, this is an offer that won’t get much traction. If the Celtics are legally allowed to take Fournier back before July 1st into their TPE, they wouldn’t do it regardless of the Knicks sweetening the deal (with draft pick (s)) since Fournier’s contract looks like a significant overpay at this point. The Celtics will likely look elsewhere to put that money to use while the Knicks may have to pursue other avenues to free up some cap room.

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