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BOSTON (CBS) – The Boston Celtics were nearly never given the chance to go on their impressive run after the All-Star break, as Danny Ainge was oh so close to breaking up his veteran group at the trade deadline.
Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, citing league sources, is reporting Ainge had a deal in place to send Ray Allen to the Memphis Grizzles for OJ Mayo and a draft pick. Head coach Doc Rivers even informed Allen that he was traded, only to call him back 20 minutes later to tell him the deal fell through.
Ainge was also working on a deal that would have sent captain Paul Pierce to the New Jersey Nets for Mehmet Okur (and his expiring contract) and a lottery pick, but that deal never reached completion.
Had Ainge been able to pull the trigger on either — or both — deals, the Celtics would have been in great position for the upcoming NBA draft and off-season. They already own two draft picks (their own and that of the LA Clippers) and would have added another and possibly a lottery pick for a very deep draft. The Celtics would have had wiggle room with the salary cap as well, with the $32 million owed to Pierce over the next two years off the books.
All of that would have given Ainge plenty to work with this summer, with two max contracts available to surround Rajon Rondo. But none of that matters now. The Celtics are currently 36-26, the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, with four games to go in the regular season.
Allen missed his fifth straight game with an ankle injury Tuesday night in Boston’s 118-110 loss to the Knicks. Wojonarowski also reported that Allen is not pleased with his recent demotion to the bench, but will handle it like a professional.
At least he isn’t in Memphis, right?