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BOSTON (CBS) – It’s taken me a couple days to digest it but, that’s that. If you like the Boston Celtics as they were comprised on the morning of Mar. 15, then you dig ‘em today, too.
Head coach Doc Rivers publicly said a number of times he didn’t believe there’d be any movement on his roster and, as it turns out, he wasn’t just playing chess with the media. C’s president of basketball operations Danny Ainge didn’t do a thing.
Undecided with how I felt about the not-so-shocking events, I turned to my good buddy Seth Landman. He’s a life-long Celtics fan, views things far more rationally than I do and, well, essentially covers the Celts for my email.
Here’s our post-mortem chat…
AK: So…the deadline was just a lot of dead time for the Celts. After all the rumors over breaking up the “Big Four”…squat. Not even Mikki Moore’s walking through that door. Surprised?
SL: Not surprised, exactly. It was hard to imagine what they could actually pull off. If anything, I became a little worried over the course of the day that they might try to turn Ray Allen into a first round pick and a halfway decent player, but it’s so hard to get fair value for an aging star. And while they normally might have been willing to deal a pick for a live body to bring off the bench, everyone seems aware that this is shaping up to be a historically great draft, so trading away picks might not be the best idea.
AK: Danny’s gotten a lot of flak for maybe over-valuing his guys, especially Ray. I mean, a first-rounder and Tyler Hansbrough from Indy? I thought Larry Bird would TP Ainge’s house next time he was in town.
SL: After all the talk about how willing he is to break up the team (along with last year’s trading deadline disaster), it does seem like maybe he’s a little trigger shy. I mean, ostensibly, this Celtics team is still trying to win a championship this season, I guess, and that means it probably makes more sense to hang on to the few good players we have. I’m wondering – especially after losing Chris Wilcox – whether there might be an interesting buyout guy we could grab, but Boston isn’t the exciting destination it was three years ago. You’d rather have Hansbrough and a pick than a couple more months of Ray Allen?
AK: Well, I’m not saying that, necessarily…I know Doc “likes his team.” It’s like Will Ferrell’s character “having a great time” in Old School. We’ve heard it a million times. But, down yet another guy in Wilcox – who I really like, by the way – does this team seriously view itself as a contender?
SL: What other choice do they (we!) have? What are you gonna do, just start tanking games? It’s not worth it. Might as well sneak into the playoffs and see whether we can give the Heat, Bulls, or – hopefully – somebody else a series. The truth is that the C’s should be far better during a playoff series than they are during this ridiculous mess of a regular season. They’re in no man’s land; might as well just see what happens. I mean, to really blow it up, I think they’d have to deal Paul Pierce, and given what he’s meant to this team over the course of his career, I’d hate to see that happen.
AK: That begs this question, then: are you “blowing it up” by dealing Rajon Rondo or any member of the 3-headed aging monster, or by doing nothing? After this season, you can count the contracted guys on one hand.
SL: Well, there’s the rub. I mean, it’s hard to avoid going through a dark period when you build your team around a bunch of aging superstars. Rondo’s young and dynamic, and he’s probably one of my five favorite Celtics to watch ever, but can you imagine a better cast of characters to surround him with, basketball-wise, than Pierce, Allen, and Kevin Garnett? It’s one of the few times in my life as a Celtics fan where I am at a loss as far as trying to have an opinion about what this team should do. I think for now you just hope the boatload of cap space allows you to get a couple of good players. But what about the draft? I mean, isn’t that why we’re in this situation? Do you trust Danny to get somebody good in the middle of the first round?
AK: It’s definitely been an Achilles heel. Some guys can’t sign free agents; others can’t make trades…why can’t Danny draft?
SL: I don’t know, but it feels like Avery Bradley is his best draft pick since Rondo, and I’m still not sure Bradley’s anything more than a decent rotation player (even with his killer defense). It’s a big problem; a team like the Spurs is still elite because they’ve added useful young guys like DeJuan Blair and Kawhi Leonard through the draft, and they’ve found guys like Gary Neal and Daniel Green on the scrap heap. Imagine if the Danny hadn’t fleeced the Magic into giving up Brandon Bass for Big Baby? I shudder to think.
AK: Enough of this. I’m letting us get off track! So we know the C’s didn’t do anything. We know you’re not surprised they didn’t do anything. Do you think they should have done something? Anything?
SL: Actually, no. Unless someone overwhelmed them with an offer for Ray, I’m glad they stood pat. What do you think?
AK: That’s the thing. You’re still thinking in big terms. I’m okay with keeping the big names and Bass. After that, I’m a seller – even if it is kind of a junkyard. Obviously you don’t get a big name without parting with one, but there weren’t any complementary players dealt that could have found their way to Boston?
SL: Philly got Sam Young from Memphis and the Lakers got Jordan Hill from the Rockets. I kinda wish we had gotten into the act for Young, but Hill would have probably meant giving up Keyon Dooling or JaJuan Johnson plus our draft pick, and those seem like bad moves to me. I guess I’m saying I wish we got Sam Young. Does that excite you?
AK: Yeah, a real pants-tent. Let’s get back to the buyouts. Since the C’s missed their chance to grab Greg Oden with the first overall pick a few years back (you talk about shuddering), the late-season acquisitions have looked like this: P.J. Brown, Sam Cassell, Mikki Moore, Stephon Marbury, Michael Finley, Nate Robinson, Troy Murphy and Carlos Arroyo. Oh, and everyone involved in that Perkins mess you referred to. So, who’s the next guy to play his last few games before retirement in the Hub?
SL: I’m not sure which guys are going to get bought out, but Chris Kaman would be perfect if New Orleans decided to save themselves some dough buy eating his contract. I think I remember hearing he’d end up in Miami though. Unfortunately, even the guys you mentioned from years past probably would rather go elsewhere given the Celtics’ mediocrity so far this season. I’m looking at the current list of free agents, and wouldn’t mind seeing us go after Kyrylo Fesenko and/or Renaldo Balkman. I don’t even really see any possible other buyout guys besides former All-Star center Jamaal Magloire up in Toronto. We need rebounders, right? That’s the biggest issue, save the awful ravages of time.
AK: Seriously, they’re awful on the glass. It’s painful to watch. As for Kaman, his situation’s a disaster – with the league owning that team, will commish David Stern even let him go? Dwight Howard’s circus isn’t even that compelling now that’s he’s finally put on his big boy pants and made a decision to stay in Orlando.
SL: Don’t even get me started on Dwight Howard. This is the worst-case scenario. We’ll be hearing about this constantly all of the rest of this year and next year now. I hate him more than I hate Brett Favre at this point.
AK: Okay, okay. Here’s what I can’t decide. If the Celts weren’t 8-2 since limping into the All-Star break, would the roster look the way it does today? In other words, despite all those talks and stories about Red Auerbach over not being afraid to deal guys, did the team’s recent success essentially give Danny an excuse to not pull the trigger?
SL: I doubt that. I don’t think Danny’s under any illusions about this team, even if the team itself might be. Frankly, I’m glad the coach and players still believe this team can win. They know more about basketball than we do; maybe they’re right!
AK: I don’t feel any better.
SL: I don’t know what to tell you.
Adam Kaufman, a native of Massachusetts, joined the Sports Hub as an on-air personality in June 2011. He has worked as a television and radio anchor and broadcaster for various outlets since 2004, and his written views on sports and entertainment have appeared on NESN.com and in the New England Hockey Journal. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamMKaufman.