The Boston Celtics might wait rather than cannonball into the pool.
Even though the C’s are well-positioned to make a splash, sources told The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach that Boston is unlikely to acquire either Dwight Howard of the Houston Rockets or Al Horford of the Atlanta Hawks before the Feb. 18 NBA trade deadline.
“This team is not in it for the short term,” one league source told Himmelsbach, who added that Boston is taking a cautious, measured approach before the deadline.
The Celtics reportedly are reluctant to mortgage their future in exchange for players who could become free agents after this season. Horford is set to hit free agency, while Howard is expected to exercise an opt-out clause in his contract with the Rockets in order to hit the open market.
The Celtics have almost no interest in Howard, according to Himmelsbach. The 30-year-old center has had back issues in the past, and questions remain about his work ethic. The C’s perhaps would have reservations about giving Howard a long-term contract in free agency even if they landed the eight-time All-Star before the trade deadline and he was open to re-signing with Boston this summer.
Sources told Himmelsbach the Celtics do think highly of Horford, who turns 30 in June. But while there’s a belief he’d be a good fit in Boston, the asking price for the three-time All-Star reportedly is high, and sources told Himmelsbach the C’s would be reluctant to trade an impact player or a valuable draft pick for Horford without knowing whether he’d re-sign with them this summer.
Also, Horford could receive a maximum deal of five years and $146 million. That’s steep for a player who’s good yet not exactly a franchise-altering talent.
The Celtics are in great shape at the All-Star break. They own a 32-23 record, good for third place in the Eastern Conference. Boston has been stockpiling assets and building a core with an eye toward contending for a title in the future, though.
From the sounds of it, a better-than-expected first half won’t convince Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge to stray from the plan in favor of knee-jerk moves.
Thumbnail photo via Thomas Campbell/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard and Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford