The biggest date on the Celtics 2013-14 calendar has already passed as Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett made their triumphant returns to Boston on Jan. 26. That day celebrated the past.
Thursday, long marked as the only other “big day” on the C’s schedule, should have an effect on the future of basketball in Boston. How big of an effect that is remains to be seen.
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The Celtics are perhaps the team most expected to execute a trade prior to the NBA’s trade deadline at 3 p.m.. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has never been shy about pulling the trigger around deadline day in the past, executing deals in the four weeks leading up to the final day of swapping in seven of the 10 seasons he has been boss of the Celtics.
A look at some names likely to go and some names unlikely to go:
Most likely to be dealt
Brandon Bass, Jeff Green, Kris Humphries and Keith Bogans have had “trade bait” written on their foreheads since C’s training camp in Newport in early October.
Bass is set to become a free agent after next season and he’s making $6.9 million per year. He would be the perfect big man off the bench for a contender this season and next.
Green is having a career year offensively (16.4 ppg), but the feeling across the league is that his statistics are a tad hollow (think Ricky Davis’ tenure in Boston). He is also set to make $9.2 million next season, which could make other GMs hesitate.
The 29-year-old Humphries’ contract is expiring at the end of this season and he has played well for Brad Stevens this year, making him quite valuable across the league.
Bogans, who had glowing articles written about him and his leadership qualities at the start of camp, is no longer with the team because he apparently doesn’t do well on buses. He hasn’t played an NBA minute since Jan. 7 and won’t ever play a minute for Stevens again.
Most likely to stay
The more you hear the trade rumors about Rajon Rondo, the harder they are to believe. In other words, it’s unlikely Rondo will be dealt Thursday.
The problem here appears to be that there are no viable trade partners. Ainge desperately wants another lottery-range pick in this year’s draft, but the teams in that range are in that range for a reason. The Orlandos and Sacramentos of the world aren’t anywhere close to title contention if they simply add Rondo. Charlotte, currently sitting at the eighth spot in the East, is only as average as it is right now because of the solid backcourt play of Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson. Would swapping in Rondo immediately vault them from eighth in the East to Miami-Indiana level? Probably not.
Avery Bradley is a restricted free agent after this season, but the Celtics act as though he’s part of their future plans. It's a solid bet to believe them here. They reportedly offered him a four-year, $24 million deal but Bradley was interested in more cash. Given the amount of injuries Bradley has sustained in his career so far, the C’s may be able to knock down that price this summer.
Jared Sullinger is having an outstanding sophomore season, averaging 13.2 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. The C’s exercised the third-year option on his rookie deal at the start of the season and he’ll be a bargain going forward. Sullinger is the least likely player on the Celtics roster to be moved Thursday.
Kelly Olynyk is likely off the C’s trade board, mostly because there’s not enough of an NBA sample size. Of course, if Ainge has a blockbuster in store for Thursday, everyone is fair game.
Follow Metro Boston sports editor and columnist Matt Burke on Twitter @BurkeMetroBOS