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Robb: Did Danny Ainge Make A Mistake By Being Inactive At Trade Deadline?

By Brian Robb, CBS Boston
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Boston Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

Boston Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) — For the 2013-14 Boston Celtics, the stars appeared to be aligned for an active trade deadline. The mismatched roster Danny Ainge complied last summer had stumbled out to a 19-36 record prior to Thursday and collectively was making over $70 million this season. Smart thinking indicated that the Celtics’ front office would try to trim some of the fat from the roster and keep building for the future.

There is no question that Ainge tried to make moves yesterday but, like the majority of the NBA, the Celtics stood pat. Overpriced veterans like Jeff Green, Kris Humphries and Keith Bogans all remain on the roster, as the Celtics seemingly kicked the can until the summer to overhaul this group.

It would have been nice if Ainge got a jump on some of those offseason moves this week, but it’s also easy to forget about the moves Boston’s president of basketball operations made earlier this season.

First, he dumped the three years remaining on Courtney Lee’s contract to Memphis for an expiring contract in Jerryd Bayless. Then, he pulled off the miraculous feat of getting some value for Jordan Crawford in the form of future draft picks. Boston also acquired those picks by agreeing to take on Joel Anthony’s contract in the three-team deal.

If Ainge had done either of these deals yesterday, the Celtics would have been considered one of the winners of trade deadline day. Instead, they were watching from the sideline at the end of the day, largely due to a position of power.

The good news for fans of the Celtics franchise is that they have owners willing to spend. Wyc Grousbeck and Co. don’t mind shelling out $70 million for a team that finishes 20 games under .500 if it’s helping this franchise build toward something.

That attitude from ownership allowed it so Ainge could pick his spots prior to the deadline. He wasn’t going to give up on players like Brandon Bass or Humphries for just a second-round pick, like the Philadelphia 76ers did with their veterans. He wanted value for those guys, and the market wasn’t giving him that. Instead of settling for what he could get, he simply walked away.

That kind of patience should serve Ainge well. Both Bass and Humphries could be brought back next season, as they have performed admirably on this rebuilding squad. They also could be dealt off this summer, when a better opportunity arises.

The only thing that could backfire on Ainge with his inactivity is the fact he still has a crowded roster with plenty of youngsters looking for minutes. It’s tough to justify playing Kelly Olynyk 30 minutes a night with Bass and Humphries on the roster, but those are the tricky waters that Brad Stevens will have to navigate in the coming months.

This group is also likely to win a few more games with all of their veterans sticking around, but that slight shift in potential lottery odds wasn’t enough incentive for Ainge to have a fire sale.

The bottom line is if there was plenty of action around the league yesterday, and the Celtics sat it out, then it would have been a disappointment. The reality is that not even one first-round pick changed hands on deadline day. Unless you are willing to settle for pennies on the dollar, it’s becoming harder to justify moves.

Ainge saw that climate on Thursday and decided to walk away from it. As long as he makes up for it this summer, Celtics fans should be okay with that.

Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to NBA.com, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @CelticsHub.

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