WALTHAM (CBS) – The Celtics have already finished the majority of their major wheeling and dealing in the past couple months, by trading away key veterans such as Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green. However, with just over one week remaining before the Feb. 19 trade deadline, the remaining parts of a Celtics rebuilding project are still a bit on edge when it comes to their futures with the team.
Veterans such as Marcus Thornton, Brandon Bass and Tayshaun Prince are the most likely candidates to be traded next week, but outside of rookies such as Marcus Smart and James Young, no one can feel 100 percent secure they won’t be sent packing.
Danny Ainge has already made five trades since the start of training camp, and surely isn’t afraid to pull the trigger on more, if the right opportunities arise.
At Tuesday’s practice, third-year center Tyler Zeller spoke about the emotions he and his teammates face around this time of the year, as the rumors head up.
“I think things have slowed down a lot recently,” Zeller said in regards to Ainge’s trades this year. “At the same time, you never know what’s going to happen. My first two years in the league, I’ve learned that the week leading up to (the deadline) is a crazy week where a lot of things start to happen. And then especially that last day, a lot of kind of things you didn’t expect will happen. So I think every year, everybody’s on their toes for that week. And you just have to wait and see what happens.”
No person has faced a bigger challenge in dealing with all the moves than head coach Brad Stevens. With 18 different players (and counting) on his roster through the first four months of the season, Stevens has had to adapt his game-plans on the fly to deal with the shuffling of bodies. That trend will continue next week, as he readies himself for the possibilities, while focusing on his own job.
“One thing that I’ve learned [about the trade deadline] is just kind of be ready for anything and coach that team that’s there as well as you can. The biggest challenge of the last year and a half has been constant movement [due to the trades].
“We’re talking about, how do you come together in two or three weeks [after trades]? It’s not feasible against the competition you’re playing. That’s why the young guys and the people that have been here have to continue to move forward and be better, and everybody has done a pretty good job of that. To their credit, they’ve all done so unselfishly, which is aided in that act greatly.”
So what’s the best advice for the roster as they sweat through the next week or so? Jared Sullinger spells it out.
“You can’t really think about [the trade deadline]. You have to understand we have a game to focus on tomorrow [against Atlanta]. Trade deadline is going to handle itself. You let [the rumors] go in one ear and out the other, and be a pro.”