As the armchair general managers and rabid sports radio callers amp up their intensity this week, Danny Ainge will remain very much in the background. Many will demand ludicrous trades while others will defend the current Boston Celtics roster.
National writers figure to focus prominently on the Celtics due to the team’s unique position at the trade deadline.
But Ainge, in his truest fashion, will spend the next week frantically denying trade rumors while concocting all types of trade proposals behind the scenes. It’s become a recent tradition in Boston: The trade deadline rolls around, fans clamor for moves and Ainge is faced with the impossible task of improving a team which often lacks sufficient assets, while maintaining a roster capable of being a dangerous playoff contender.
Two seasons ago, Ainge shocked Boston by trading away defensive stalwart Kendrick Perkins. Last year’s shortened season saw Ainge do nothing at the deadline, despite a poor start.
So what should Celtics fans expect this year?
It’s imperative that Celtics fans do what they must to fight off fantasy trades and wild, elaborate schemes. What is often lost as the deadline looms closer, is a sense of realism. Often, fans confuse wants and needs, necessities and luxuries.
This year is no different.
The popular name as of now is Josh Smith. A week ago, Dwight Howard dominated trade rumors (shocking, I know). All the while, the threat of a Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce departure remains.
Realistically, you shouldn’t hold your breath over Smith. It feels as if this is the third year running that the 9-year Atlanta Hawk veteran been linked to Boston; yet the outcome will most likely stay the same.
Smith isn’t a natural fit in Boston. His combination of ill-advised shots and unfortunate brain cramps don’t fly with Doc Rivers’ selfless system. Couple that with Smith’s imminent free agency, and the Celtics simply don’t have the means to acquire or afford him.
The same goes for Howard. On the verge of a max contract, Howard likely wouldn’t stick around in Boston. Fortunately, we don’t have to worry about this rumor due to Rajon Rondo’s season-ending ACL tear.
So what do the Celtics have to offer?
Of the healthy, useful assets (sorry Fab Melo), the Boston has limited options. There is the potential of trading Garnett, but that would hinge upon whether or not Garnett could be persuaded to waive his no-trade clause. A deal of Garnett for Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers is a realistic, potentially franchise altering trade.
Unless Ainge decides to go all-in on Smith, Pierce won’t be changing uniforms. And neither will Avery Bradley.
That leaves Jeff Green, Jason Terry, Courtney Lee and Brandon Bass as the only useful talent left. If Ainge can find some way to bundle what’s left of his bench in turn for a prominent scorer, more power to him; but as of now, the trade deadline looks bleak.
There are certainly options out there. J.J Redick is an intriguing name that has been tossed around, for example. Redick is due for a multi-year contract in the offseason, and could provide help to a contender, rather than toiling away on a horrendous Orlando Magic squad. Perhaps Ainge will look for a rental in the form of Monta Ellis or Paul Millsap, although, both the Milwaukee Bucks and Utah Jazz would command reasonably talented players in return, respectively.
The Celtics could also go the buyout route too, much like they did with Troy Murphy two years ago.
Ainge has a penchant for making the blockbuster move. Knowing this, Celtics fans will be forced to go through this week on red alert.
But with the options in place now, it’s likely that Boston will sit tight through the trade deadline, content to ride out the season with what they have.
Mark Chiarelli can be reached at email@example.com and followed on twitter @Mark_Chiarelli.