(Photo via vavel.com)
As the NBA trade-deadline approached, many fans and analysts around the league expected big moves to be made. Not only were high profile players reportedly on the trading block, but many playoff contenders wanted to make any necessary last minute additions to help strengthen their teams. There were certainly some key moves made among playoff contenders, like the Thunder acquiring combo-guard Randy Foye and the Clippers trading for Jeff Green, both moves made to help spread the court to try to compete with the championship favorite Golden State Warriors. However, one team that failed to make a move despite many expecting them to do so was the Boston Celtics.
As a die-hard Celtics fan, there was a part of me that really wanted Danny Ainge to pull the trigger and snag one of the big-named big men on the market. Among players that Boston reportedly had interest in pursuing via trade were Dwight Howard, Al Horford, and Jahlil Okafor, who reporters say Boston was closest to acquiring in a near last minute blockbuster deal. While seeing one of these big men in green would make any C’s fan happy, I see why Ainge didn’t do a deal. For Dwight and Horford, Ainge would have no guarantee either of them would spend their future in Boston. Horford is set to become a free agent this off-season and Howard has the ability to opt out of his contract after this season, and if not, he is on the books for over $23 million – neither a good option. Ainge would have had to give up multiple role players, possibly guys like Sully, Bradley or Smart, and maybe even Brooklyn’s first round draft pick next year, which the Celtics currently own and is looking to be a top-5 pick.
The Celtics will continue to close the gap on the Cavaliers as the season winds down, and I strongly believe this team is good enough to make a run at the Eastern Conference Title. Not only has Brad Stevens become one of the best coaches in the NBA, but he has done what many coaches struggle to do: he has gotten the player to buy into an unselfish style of play at both the offensive and defensive end. On a nightly basis, you will see the men in green make hustle plays left and right and playing tough, hard nosed defense. The offense, led by All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas, has thrived under Stevens brilliant mind and is fueled by ball-movement, space, and movement without the ball – something Stevens has mastered since making the tough coaching transition from college to the NBA.
The Celtics don’t have that star player, something us Celtics fans hope changes come supper 2016, but I still believe this team has what it takes to make it out of this weak Eastern Conference.
– J. Horrigan