Go ahead and add Danny Ainge’s Boston Celtics to the mix of possible teams making notable moves ahead of the NBA trade deadline.
The Celtics sit in fifth place in the Eastern Conference at 26-21, but Ainge has been pretty candid over the past few weeks about his team’s chances of winning a title, rather openly admitting that making a move would help his team keep up with the big dogs in the conference.
Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski dropped a pretty interesting nugget on The Vertical Podcast recently detailing how Ainge might have his sights set on a “star” and what that might mean:
Danny Ainge is out on the hunt for a star, and trying to figure out what that means — what a star is. One team that I think is really at a crossroads talking to teams is the Atlanta Hawks. Al Horford is a free agent this summer. They’re not sure he’s going to stay, whether they’re going to keep him. There’s a chance this Atlanta team pushes the reset button here at some point.
The Atlanta Hawks have received plenty of coverage over the past few days as a team perhaps willing to blow things up because the team hasn’t lived up to expectations and that particular front office has the future to think about.
But perhaps more interesting here is Ainge and the Celtics. Ainge himself spoke on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show recently and hit the globe with a dose of honesty not normally permitted, according to CBSLocal.com:
I can’t put myself in that position, because then you do silly things. I would like to do something to put us in that position (to win a championship), of course. Every day I’m thinking and trying to come up with ways to do that. But it’s just not that simple. A lot of the mistakes that are made around our league is people trying to do something too fast; they’re impatient and they panic. We’re definitely not in a panic mode. We have objectives that we would like to accomplish, but you have to make a good deal. We can’t just say we want to win a championship and are going to get so-and-so. It’s not that simple.
Ainge is a guy sitting on a stockpile of future draft picks with nice young pieces already in place. Isaiah Thomas, 26, averages 21.6 points per game. Jared Sullinger, 23, has proven to be a nice piece underneath the basket, averaging 9.7 points and 8.7 boards. Marcus Smart, 21, continues to come around. And that’s just naming a few.
That said, it’s easy to see where and why the Celtics would be interested in adding someone at the deadline for the right price. Take Al Horford of the Hawks, for example. The 29-year-old veteran would come in and act as a starter right away, not to mention act as a mentor and leader to a rather young roster. The current 15.2/7.1/1.4 slash line doesn’t hurt, either. Atlanta might be willing to let him go and bringing him on board would assure the Celtics a player they like rather than having to enter a bidding war for his services on the open market, so long as they ink him to an extension.
But someone like Horford goes back to Wojnarowski’s comments—what classifies as a star? Is it really somebody who could leave after half a season, anyway?
That sounds like what Ainge wants to figure out. He’s not a guy who will rush into a deal, clearly, but now the Celtics are out there as a team willing to act as buyers if they like the offer. With that sort of door now open, the Celtics find themselves as one of the top teams to watch ahead of the deadline, with rather large implications on the playoff hunt in the Eastern Conference swinging in the balance.