Carlos Boozer. Ben Gordon. Antawn Jamison. Caron Butler.
Big names, and potential big impact players for even the strongest of championship contenders — but none of them are coming to the Celtics.
This February has the potential to be a game-changing month on the trading block. We could see stars changing hands and altering the playoff race in a big way, much like we did two seasons ago. In 2008, the NBA landscape changed dramatically when Shaquille O'Neal, Shawn Marion, Jason Kidd and Mike Bibby were all sent packing at the deadline. And the biggest trade of all, of course, came two weeks earlier when the Memphis Grizzlies gift-wrapped Pau Gasol for the mighty Lakers. Now he's got a ring to show for it.
There exists the potential for this winter's trade deadline to produce a Pau, a Shaq, a Kidd — a big-time player who alters the championship hunt for everyone involved.
But none of the big names are headed to the Celtics. And why should they be? The C's have the best starting five in the NBA, and adding another star player to the mix would only complicate the chemistry among the key cogs they already have. There's pretty much no chance of it happening, and Danny Ainge has already said as much.
Ainge told WEEI last week that "there’s no validity" to the rumors we've been hearing about the Celtics. There will be no trading Ray Allen, no bringing in a big superstar, no shaking up the C's lineup in the middle of a playoff race.
But does that mean they're standing pat altogether?
Now there's a tricky question. There's a big difference between eschewing a big move — one that shakes up the starting five and moves millions in payroll — and making no move at all. And the gray area in between is what will make things interesting.
The C's could definitely benefit from a small roster move this winter, one that adds a little depth to their rotation without shaking things up too dramatically. In 2008, when they won an NBA title, they did it with the help of Sam Cassell and P.J. Brown. A year later they made the playoffs again, but not before adding Stephon Marbury and Mikki Moore. None of these players were game-changers, but they padded the team's depth in exactly the right ways.
Ainge is once again looking at a team with minor deficiencies in its bench, ones that could easily be filled with the right deadline deal. Rajon Rondo has been superb, but he's been playing a ton of minutes, and he'd be much better off with a solid backup to take the floor in his stead and keep him rested. Marquis Daniels is a great swingman and bench scorer when healthy, but if injuries continue to dog him this season, the C's could use another wing guy for their depth chart.
Whether Ainge is admitting it publicly or not, his team does have needs. Not big needs, but ones that should be addressed between now and the deadline later this month.
Ainge has said there will be no blockbusters. But he hasn't gone into much detail beyond that.
For some other contenders in the NBA this season, a big trade could be just what the doctor ordered. But not in Boston. Here, it's the little deals that could make the biggest difference.