…a little late, but…so be it…
So the NBA trade deadline came and went last week with Boston Celtic GM “Trader Danny” Ainge making ZERO moves. I was kind of shocked when I read it, but apparently, this is the fifth consecutive deadline that Ainge has not made a deal. Perhaps it’s time to retire the “Trader Danny” nickname?
The Celtics have a true core of five players that really carry the load: Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward and Marcus Smart (yes, he is a key piece of the team…live with it). If you wanted to combine Daniel Theis and Enes Kanter into a sixth, then go right ahead. Though not ideal, those two should not kill you playing the “5”.
But that’s all folks. You can shove as much Grant Williams down my throat as you want. But although I appreciate the hustle and drive he shows out there, I have no interest in seeing this guy on the court when the playoffs arrive.
Speaking of “shoving someone down our throat”, Head Coach Brad Stevens has been trying to do this with Semi Ojeleye for almost three years running now. Maybe in the right situation, “Shemi” may actually be able to play in the NBA? I don’t know. But I do know that this dude is atrocious and does absolutely nothing for me. And please spare me with “he guards Giannis well, so he should play a lot against Milwaukee if they end up playing them” bit. Please. I think Ojeleye’s defense against Giannis is a little overstated. But that is me. Furthermore, if he can actually guard Giannis, why can he not guard anyone else in the league? I think the 6 fouls he has per game is the most valuable thing about him. Moving on…
Robert Williams? I would have LOVED to have seen more of him this season to see what his raw ability could have added to the team. But a hip injury wiped that out. He is supposedly due back in March. Can he add value coming off the bench for a few minutes a game? Perhaps. But can he be counted on? Nope.
Romeo Langford? Not this year anyway. The 14th pick overall has missed a great deal of the season with a variety of injuries. Now seemingly past all that, Langford had kind of a breakout game last Friday against the Atlanta Hawks. you know, the “bottom of the conference” Hawks that is. Then Romeo turned that progress into an ugly 6 minute stint against the much better Oklahoma City Thunder 2 days later. I am not sure if the kid can play in the NBA over the long haul as of yet. But he certainly isn’t ready now.
We could keep going through the rest of the roster, but I will spare you. No one else can be trusted. And since I spared you by not going through the rest of the names on the roster individually, please spare me any Tacko Fall comments as well. Thank you in advance.
The point is, the team could use some help off the bench. A veteran or two. A big man to share the load with Theis and Kanter…or even overtake them in the rotation. Some help anyway.
And…nothing. So what does that mean?
I suppose big men such as Clint Capela and Andre Drummond were not real options because they don’t shoot three pointers and therefore were not a fit for Stevens’ system. Neither does Kanter…though maybe that’s why, in his case, despite him being a rebounding machine, he plays less than 20 minutes a game here.
But what about other wings and ball handlers? There weren’t any available? Are you really satisfied with Brad Wanamaker Danny? I don’t see it.
Salary cap issues? Perhaps. But those things have a way of working themselves out if a deal needs to get done. And I am not talking about “throwing” a core player in a deal to make the numbers work.
Draft pick hesitation? The picks the Celtics have coming up are almost worthless now. Mid to late first rounders. Not worthless, that is hyperbole. But it’s not like having a pick in the top three. I think you get my point.
Not wanting to give up on younger players? I mean, Langford MAY be a player someday. Not guaranteed. Robert Williams MAY be worth holding on to. But not necessarily. Grant Williams MAY be a decent bench player in this league going forward. Carsen Edwards? Disappointment. I thought he would be able to come off the bench and hit some buckets. Hasn’t happened this year. Tremont Waters has some skill, but his height will always haunt him. Besides, if he had that much promise, wouldn’t he have a real roster spot now, instead of a two-way deal?
You can have the whole lot of them, in my opinion. Guys of that ilk will always be available.
Side note: I guess one writer said the C’s may be hesitant to give up on players like Vincent Poirier because he has “flashed at times this season”. Poirier has played 108 minutes the whole year, as of this writing. How much “flashing” can that provide??!
In any event, so why did Danny not make a deal?
Glad you asked!
I believe some of the chatter that I’ve heard on talk radio this week. I think Ainge thinks that this team is not good enough to win a championship and may be more than one or two “pieces” away. That the West is loaded and that the East seems to be all Milwaukee. I don’t believe that Danny wants to make deals for this year when he believes holding on to “assets” for the future is better for the team.
That being said, what did Ainge really have at his disposal to give up? The younger bench guys ain’t getting him anything great. The future draft picks either. Theis and/or Kanter? Maybe as a piece. But not as a major part of any deal.
That means he would have been dipping into one of the five “core” players. And what would be the sense of that when they are trying to add to that core and not take away from it?
One initial thought I had was…gasp…is there a chance Gordon Hayward may be available? He has a huge player option next year. Which means he will opt out of it. Because that’s what professional athletes do. Hayward has been pretty good when he’s been on the floor this season. But he has missed some time. And he has been a little snakebitten here over the years with injury. Jaylen Brown’s cap hit goes from 6.5 mil to almost 24 mil next season. Jayson Tatum still needs to get paid.
Could Gordo become a casualty, either at the deadline this season, or next summer? Despite the obvious ties to Brad? Well, the deadline has passed. But was that possibly being bandied about as a potential move before the deadline? And may be on the table over the summer?
Remember also that Hayward was the subject of some teammates’ dissatisfaction last season when Brad forced minutes on him when he wasn’t quite ready in his return from his major injury the season before. Taking away minutes from the likes of Brown and Tatum, who felt like they earned them with their long playoff run from the previous season.
Maybe Langford grows into that “other guy” down the road. Some of the other kids/picks develop. Tatum gets his dough. And he, Brown and Kemba are the three top dogs.
I didn’t think it was a real option for this season. But a real option over the summer? And that perhaps is when Ainge is ready to make his “next big move”, to take the step to legitimate championship contender?
Hard to say. But can a team really have four max contracts…or close to max contracts?
Then I see something recently where the team wants Gordo still for the long haul.
So who knows what Danny is thinking?
If I am “Trader Danny” though, I try to make a deal for a couple of veteran bench guys last week. You already have four scorers. You just can’t play them 48 minutes a game in the playoffs. And you sure as hell cannot trust most of the other guys on the roster other than Smart. As long as he isn’t shooting a ton himself, that is. Adding some reliable veterans to fill up the main bench minutes along with Theis and Kanter would have satisfied me at least. And Danny didn’t get it done.
I’m still not sure that adding the vet depth pieces would make them a legit contender this season. But it would have certainly put them in a better place.
A trip to the Eastern Conference may be the best Celtics fans can hope for.