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BOSTON (CBS) – The NBA trade deadline is more than two weeks away, but the flood gates could open starting on Thursday.
On March 1, players who were signed in the offseason are eligible to be traded. So what the heck are the Boston Celtics going to do before the March 15 deadline?
Last year, Danny Ainge angered 99.5-percent of Celtics fans by dealing Kendrick Perkins to the Oklahoma City Thunder, a move that many believe crushed any chances the team had to make any kind of postseason run. This season, Ainge is in a much different boat.
The Celtics are hanging on to the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, sitting 2 and a half games ahead of the Bucks (whom they host Wednesday night) and the Cavaliers (whom they beat Tuesday night). The aging team has struggled to a 16-17 record, losing eight of their first 12 only to win nine of 10 shortly after. Tuesday night, they just broke out of a five-game losing streak with an 86-83 win in Cleveland.
Basically, the Celtics are clinging on to the final playoff spot, which is equivalent to NBA limbo. Instead of a lottery pick, a low one at that, they would get a first-round matchup with the likes of the Miami Heat or Chicago Bulls.
So what can Ainge do at the deadline? He has a few options, none of which end in the Celtics hanging another banner next October.
Blow It Up
Ainge could simply clean house, and according to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, that is a possibility.
“Boston is very active out there. They’re willing to trade any of that Big Three if they can find a deal that helps them going forward with cap space, with draft picks,” he said on NBC Sports Tuesday night. “Danny Ainge, Doc Rivers have determined internally ‘we’re not contenders, we’re not going to win the championship this year.’”
No, the Celtics are not contenders. But that doesn’t mean Ainge should make a deal that would keep them from being contenders next season. While trading either Garnett or Allen might get them something, albeit not much, in return, trading Pierce or Rondo would get them a little more.
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The problem with trading either of those two is they are really all the Celtics have to build around moving forward. Trading Rondo means the Celtics are going to start from scratch, likely setting their sights on New Jersey’s Deron Williams or another marque point guard in the offseason. With his heart set on Dallas, or remaining with the Nets who are moving to Brooklyn, that appears out of the question. And it’s unlikely Dwight Howard would want to come to a team that has Avery Bradley as its point guard.
Blowing it up would only make sense if the Celtics get some high draft picks or at least one stud-of-the-future in return. Rondo is the only player that will get that, and maybe Pierce if Ainge can sweet talk another GM (unfortunately, Kevin McHale is no longer employed). While Rondo may be able to net the C’s a player like Williams, there is the uncertainty that surrounds him (or other free-agents-to-be) remaining in Boston next year.
It’s a gamble, but those have never scared Danny away from making a move.
Let It Be
Ainge could choose to let his current Celtics play out the season, and then enjoy his cap space and two first-round draft picks in the offseason. Letting the team play out its final season together (at least as The Big 3) would be the equivalent of waiting for a bad movie to end. You just want it to be over, but you paid your $10.50 so why not stay?
The inconsistent Celtics can barely keep up with younger teams, and struggle against the good teams in the league. They might sneak out a win against an Orlando or Philadelphia, but they’re just as likely to lose to the Pistons, Raptors or Bucks.
At least they can beat the Bobcats, right?
The Celtics could move either Allen or KG, and it wouldn’t be an earth shattering move. While many are saying Rondo is the biggest draw by potential trade partners, there are also reports that Allen is getting a lot of attention. The 36-year-old would fit into any system, and could be a great addition to teams with playoff aspirations.
The Celtics don’t necessarily want to trade Allen, but if an offer comes along that will help them next season (or in the offseason), Ainge has to pull the trigger.
Letting things be doesn’t mean not making any moves. There are a few potential buyout options that could fall into Boston’s lap like Lamar Odom or Chris Kaman, but they would probably want to go somewhere that has a chance to win this season. Plus, does anyone really want the Kardashians running around Boston?
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Ainge’s best option might be to let the season play out, and have his fun in the free-agent market. If he can add another draft pick along the way without giving up either Pierce or Rondo, he will be in good (not great) shape to start the rebuilding process over the summer.
At least he’ll have a full one to work with this year.