By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The Celtics had another quiet deadline day. Their competition in the Eastern Conference, however, did not.
Danny Ainge and the Celtics were reportedly “heavily engaged” with other teams ahead of the 3 p.m. deadline, according to Keith Smith, but were one of 14 teams that did not make a move. This is nothing new for Ainge, who hasn’t made a meaningful trade at the deadline since acquiring Isaiah Thomas in 2015.
That “Trader Danny” nickname is in serious jeopardy at the moment.
Boston was reportedly in on Washington sharpshooting big man Davis Bertans, and made several offers to the Wizards, according to Chris Mannix. The Wizards were reportedly asking for a pair of first-round picks in return, which the Celtics certainly had that — armed with three first-round picks in a weak 2020 draft. And certainly could have used Bertans’ size and shooting off the bench.
But Latvian Laser never moved on deadline day, with Washington reportedly committed to re-signing him this offseason.
Boston made several strong offers to Washington for Davis Bertans, but the Wizards wouldn’t budge. Washington remains committed to re-signing Bertans this summer as a stretch-four opposite John Wall and Bradley Beal.
— Chris Mannix (@SIChrisMannix) February 6, 2020
According to a league source, the Wizards weren't looking to part with Bertans, even for two first-round picks. And the Celtics would have been reluctant to pay that price for an unrestricted free agent who would become their 7th man anyway.
— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) February 6, 2020
The Celtics are a very good team at 35-15, sitting in third place in the Eastern Conference. But it would have been nice to see Ainge consolidate some of the repetitive talent at the end of the roster and those three picks for someone who could fill a current need: Size and shooting off the bench. The C’s are going to need a lot more of that if they run into Giannis and the Bucks or Joel Embiid and the 76ers in the playoffs.
Maybe the C’s didn’t make a move because Ainge is counting on Robert Williams to come back and provide a big man boost off the bench. But Williams hasn’t played in two months, so that is extremely iffy.
“Our number one need is health,” Ainge said earlier this week.
Maybe Ainge can go out and get some of that help off the buyout market. But he would still have to say goodbye to a player on the current roster if he does that, with 15 players currently earning paychecks in Boston.
Elsewhere in the Eastern Conference, Boston’s competition got better. The Heat won the Andre Iguodala sweepstakes, sending a package centered around Justise Winslow to Memphis for the former Finals MVP. Miami also received former Celtic Jae Crowder and veteran Solomon Hill in the deal, giving them some ridiculous depth with its wing players.
Miami currently trails Boston by one game in the East standings.
The 76ers, meanwhile, are a gigantic mess. But they also made some trades that should help their bench the rest of the way, acquiring guard Alec Burks and wing Glen Robinson III from Golden State for a trio of second-round picks. Boston was reportedly in on both of those players, but the Warriors didn’t want to take anyone back, and the Celtics didn’t want to have to waive anyone to acquire either. Now both are in Philly.
Some may argue that not making a move shows that Ainge and head coach Brad Stevens don’t believe this squad can compete for a title. The counter would be that they do see these Celtics as a contender, and didn’t want to mess with the chemistry they’ve built throughout the season.
The Celtics didn’t have to make a move on Thursday, because they’re still a pretty darn good basketball team. But they weren’t able to make any improvements to the team, while their competition got better. It would have been nice to see them do something to give the current squad a little help. It looks like the deals were out there, but Ainge chose to stay put. We’ll see if that was the best decision come playoff time.