Another trade deadline has come and gone in the NBA. The Boston Celtics stood pat. For some reason, by not making a deal by 3:00 on Thursday, Boston has dropped to 5th or 6th in the Eastern Conference according to talk show hosts. C’s General Manager Danny Ainge told NBC Sports Boston “I remember Red Auerbach told me one time on my first year on the job some of the best trades that I’ve made are the ones that I didn’t make, and that has stuck with me.”
Since the 2011 Trade deadline, when Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson were traded, the Celtics have had little to no trade deadline activity. An exception, however, was in 2015 when Isaiah Thomas was traded to Boston for Marcus Thornton and a draft pick. It’s easy to say this year why the Celtics didn't trade for Andre Drummond, or why didn’t they look at Clint Capela who went to Atlanta in a deal the C’s should have been a part of.
There are ways to hide salaries with rights and exceptions. But a player like Andre Drummond, who’s averaging a double-double, makes close to $28 million, AND will make $28.7 million next year. There is no way Boston could have done that financially without trading away a player like Gordon Hayward, who despite missing time has had a fairly productive season (17.2 ppg, 51.2 % Shooting). As for Clint Capela, who has 3+ years left on his contract, acquiring him would have required multiple players being moved.
Besides the financial aspect, teams looked at the draft chest of the Celtics and it’s not looking as impressive as seven years ago.
Typically trading draft picks depends on what is coming up in the NBA Draft, and this draft class doesn’t appear very deep so 2nd round picks for the 2020 draft don’t have the same appeal as prior years. Along with the picks acquired via trade, Boston’s own draft pick is expected to land in the high 20’s, which means multiple picks and key contributors would be needed for a potential rental player, or player that won’t mesh with the rest of the team.
After nearly crippling the Nets franchise, the IT heist in 2015 and later trading him injured to Cleveland for Kyrie Irving, Danny Ainge may be a little too good at trading. It’s legitimate to say teams are afraid of trading with him because of the fear of potentially getting fleeced.
This may be the “green-teamer” talking, but the Celtics didn’t have to make a deal. Maybe a center for depth, but that can be accomplished in the buyout market without trading anyone. More than anything else Ainge's team needs health, not help. 16 games played in January, including three back to backs, and a four week stretch of games every other night, doesn’t help heal injuries. As we approach the All Star break the team should continue to get healthier after the one-week layoff. Realistically, Boston will get a healthy Marcus Smart, Kemba Walker, Robert Williams and more. Danny Ainge proved this is a team he wouldn’t trade for the world.