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Boston Celtics acquire Tyler Zeller as part of a three-way trade with Cavaliers

Tyler Zeller #40 of the Cleveland Cavaliers drives to the basket against the Golden State Warriors in the third quarter at Quicken Loans Arena on December 29, 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio.
Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

The Boston Celtics have found a way to be part of the LeBron James sweepstakes and as a result may have added a couple more chips for future trades. According to a report by CBS Sports Thursday, the Celtics were part of a three-team trade involving the Brooklyn Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers. In a deal that will send Jarrett Jack and Sergey Karasev to the Nets, the Celtics will receive Tyler Zeller, a first-round pick and Marcus Thornton.

The deal is believed to have been made to clear cap space for the Cavaliers to be able to offer a max contract to King James in a move that will bring the NBA superstar back to his hometown. ESPN’s Marc Stein reported the proposed deal that will bring the Celtics some frontcourt depth in Zeller and the expiring contract of Thornton.

Zeller made strides last season with the Cavaliers and with continued improvement, can help the Celtics as a potential backup center. The first-round pick and Thornton’s expiring contract could be a couple more assets the Celtics need to acquire a player in a trade or make a big splash in free agency in the summer of 2015.

Zeller is a former first-round pick out of the University of North Carolina who is only 24 years old. The 7-foot center averaged 5.7 points and 4.0 rebounds with the Cavaliers. Colton Iverson may push Zeller for backup minutes at the center position for Boston, especially if the team can somehow work out a trade for Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star forward Kevin Love.

The first-round pick the Celtics acquired in the deal is a protected pick, meaning that Cleveland would retain the pick if it becomes a top-10 lottery pick. In all the Celtics have eight first-round picks over the next four years and nine if the Philadelphia 76ers make the playoffs this year. President of basketball operations Danny Ainge has a bunch of bargaining chips to potentially gamble with.