Celtics keep assets, make no moves at trade deadline
WALTHAM, Mass. (AP) The Celtics went into Thursday’s trade deadline armed with the assets needed to make a major deal and put pressure on the Eastern Conference favorite Cleveland Cavaliers.
But any potential deal will have to wait until another day.
For the second straight year Boston’s roster will go unchanged heading into the second half of the season, despite what President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge said were tempting discussions with several teams.
”We had a lot of conversations, there’s things that we could do to improve our team, but nothing that is good enough to do,” Ainge said.
Ainge entered the day in an enviable position thanks to a roster loaded with young talent and two first-round draft picks he holds from Brooklyn over the next two drafts.
Boston has the right to swap first-round picks with the Nets this summer. Brooklyn currently has the worst record in the NBA. If it remains there, that pick would hold the highest odds of becoming No. 1 overall in the draft lottery.
While he wouldn’t discuss specifics of what deals were on the table, Ainge said the potential of having the top draft pick this summer played a role in discussions with teams Thursday.
”We’re trying to upgrade our team. But it is a delicate balance of short term goals and long term goals,” he said. ”Obviously both are important.”
All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas, who set the Twitter world and NBA rumor will abuzz this week with cryptic emoji tweets of peering eyes and an hour glass, said he was intrigued by the idea of adding another All-Star like Indiana’s Paul George or Chicago’s Jimmy Butler.
”For sure. Those are All-Star type players, superstars that can change your organization,” Thomas said. ”Like I’ve always said, I’ll roll with the guys I’ve got in this locker room until something changes. I always mean that.”
Even before the deadline passed, coach Brad Stevens said that he expected there to be minimal changes to his roster.
”I don’t think that when you’re in a position where you’re playing at a pretty good level that you should anticipate much change,” Stevens said after his team practiced early Thursday afternoon. ”At the end of the day I think that my job is try to focus on the 15 guys that are here.”
He has yet to see what a fully healthy group can truly do.
Boston’s starting lineup of Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Al Horford, Jae Crowder and Amir Johnson has played in just 21 of 57 games this season. They are 16-5 in those games, but will begin the second half Friday in Toronto still not injury-free.
Bradley has been out since Jan. 18 with a sore right Achilles tendon. He was a partial participant in Thursday’s practice, but isn’t expected to play against the Raptors.
Considering how well the Celtics have played through injuries this season, Ainge said he’s confident the roster can compete for the East title as is.
”We won’t put a ceiling on this team, but we haven’t seen the best of this team,” Ainge said. ”We like the depth of the team. We like the youth of the team. We like the energy and enthusiasm of our team.”
Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/khightower