Celtics fans have taken a seat, looked up at the sky, and patiently waited for their fireworks show for a couple years now.But after the 2016 NBA Trade Deadline came and went without a even a firecracker tossed out of the C’s front office, everybody is going to have to wait until the offseason for something to happen… preferably, something big.
So how should we feel about the quiet trade deadline? While we’ll have a definitive answer by the end of the summer, the early thought is that Danny Ainge did the right thing by holding on to what he has . . . for now.
The NBA trade deadline is usually one filled with excitement, but that wasn’t the case this season across the league. A few trades were made, but nothing that really moved the needle.
Kevin Love? DeMarcus Cousins? Al Horford? Jahlil Okafor? Dwight Howard? All nice thoughts (minus Howard perhaps), but really, how available were these guys? At what cost was it to the Celtics to acquire one?
The C’s still hold not one, not two, but up to three first round picks in this year’s draft, and it would be a shock to see them make all those picks. They also hold future Nets picks, all of which should have plenty of value.
In fact, first round picks may be even more valuable than ever, seeing as the NBA salary cap is rising, but rookie scale contracts are not. That leaves more money on the table to sign big-name free agents.
And then there’s this: Whatever players were allegedly available at the trade deadline are going to be available in the offseason one way or the other. You can’t tell me the Love rumors are going to go away once the Cavs inevitably lose to the Raptors, Spurs, or Warriors in the playoffs. And players like Horford and Howard can be had in free agency, too.
Twenty-nine teams are going to be hoping to make changes, and some more than others will be looking to make major changes.
And that’s where Ainge and his assets – as well as all the cap space needed – come in. He didn’t hinder his chances at going hard at a superstar or two in the offseason (whether by trade or free agency) by overpaying for one of the few "available" players at the deadline.
The rebuild is ahead of schedule, but this summer is going to be Ainge’s make-or-break moment. On one hand, he goes into it with a lot of nice pieces available to make something happen. On the other, if the Brooklyn pick isn’t in the top two, or if the demand just isn’t where it needs to be, the C’s could be left with a bunch of rookies and young players . . . and no superstar.