By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The trade deadline came and went on Thursday, and as expected, the Boston Celtics didn’t do much. That is being met with mixed feelings, especially since their competition in the Eastern Conference made a slew of moves to get better.
The Toronto Raptors added Memphis big man Marc Gasol. The first-place Bucks added depth with Nikola Mirotic. The 76ers beefed up their starting five with Tobias Harris and got some shooting off the bench in James Ennis.
All of that is bad for Boston (aside from Memphis getting worse, which should help that future first-rounder of theirs that the Celtics own). So too is the Clippers getting worse in dealing Harris, since the C’s will likely now have to settle for a second-round pick from L.A. in 2021 instead of a potential lottery pick over the next two years. Even the Sacramento Kings got better with their acquisition of Harrison Barnes, but dreams of the Celtics getting a top-5 pick out of them were dashed long ago.
That’s a lot of bad news for the Celtics. All they did was trade away Jabari Bird, freeing them up to snag someone off the buyout market. Danny Aigne will now turn his attention to the likes of Enes Kanter, Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat, picking from whichever player doesn’t moonwalk their way to the Warriors. Don’t expect an “impact” signing, considering the Celtics barely have enough minutes to go around as it is.
But where the Celtics won on Thursday is the fact that Anthony Davis is still in New Orleans and not on the Lakers. That means when July 1 rolls around, Ainge will have a chance to give the Pelicans anything and everything they want for their unibrowed super star. It that happens, Ainge will have a chance to sell Davis on Boston, and much better chance at convincing Kyrie Irving to stay on a max deal.
Being the NBA, it may not play out that way. But now we have five months to debate whether the Celtics should even consider giving up Jayson Tatum for a potential one-year rental of Davis, rather than watch him catch alley-oops from LeBron James in Los Angeles. Given that the situation was completely out of Ainge’s control over the last two weeks (with the Celtics barred from trading for Davis until this summer), this is a win for the C’s president of basketball ops. It’s just a bonus that the Davis rumors that circulated appear to have completely destroyed the Lakers and their young talent (it’s a bonus that the Celtics host these very Lakers on Thursday night).
Don’t expect the rumors and rumblings to go away for the next five months. Heck, they may even increase. You’ll start to hear more stories about the Pelicans messing with the Lakers. You’ll hear more from LeBron James on the situation, because he’s LeBron James and has to comment on every situation. You may even start to hear that Davis is now warming up to the thought of playing in Boston. Chances are you’re going to hear a lot of things about Davis; intentions to become a free agent in 2020, the bounty the Celtics will have to offer New Orleans, and Anthony Davis Sr’s favorite food. If you think the time around the trade deadline is the NBA’s silly season, just wait until the off-season hits.
The Celtics aren’t really winners at the deadline, but they certainly aren’t the biggest losers either. Their competition got better in the now, but the Celtics are confident that their recent hot stretch, winning 10 of their last 11, is more of who they are than their slow start to the season. If they play up to their potential the rest of the way, there was no need for Ainge to go out and trade for anyone on Thursday.
For Ainge and the Celtics, the most important part of deadline day was Anthony Davis remaining in New Orleans. Now they can focus on the present, and keep the future in the back of their minds.