Surprise, surprise: The Boston Celtics once again are in the thick of NBA trade deadline talks.
The Celtics are in pretty good shape ahead of the league’s Feb. 23 deadline, sitting second in the Eastern Conference despite the absences of Avery Bradley and Jaylen Brown. They also own a host of trade assets, meaning the pressure is back on president of basketball operations Danny Ainge to make a deal that could put Boston over the top.
So, what would that deal look like? During a Thursday morning appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher & Rich,” Ainge offeredÂ his own vision.
âIâm certainly aware of all of our competition around the East,” Ainge said. “Itâs not from a lack of desire to want to do a trade, but as an organization we have priorities and a plan.
“We’re not looking for Band-Aids and weâre not looking to give up future assets. Weâre trying to build something more sustainable than a rent-a-player.”
Ainge added he’s received plenty of interest in the team’s 2017 Brooklyn Nets pick swap, which could be at the top of a loaded draft. ButÂ as far as he’s concerned, that pick won’t come cheap.
âEveryone knows the assets we have and the young players we have,â Ainge said. âIn any conversation we have the price is a lot because of what we have in the bank. Thatâs the challenge weâre facing and weâre trying to stick to our plan. If a deal comes along where the price to add someone to the team who is more long-term than someone who is just the last 25 games of the season, we have more interest in that than we do in finding a Band-Aid.â
The latest rumors seem to bear out Ainge’s thinking. The Celtics reportedly declined to part with the 2017 Brooklyn pick in a potential trade for Jimmy Butler and didn’t want to give up prospects to acquire big man Serge Ibaka.
Boston still has needs, particularly for a rebounding big man, and if the right trade comes around for a star player, Ainge will be ready to pull the trigger. But his comments Thursday suggest he’s erring on the side of wait-and-see.
“I donât think youâve seen the best of the Celtics,â Ainge said. âI donât think our core group has been together for many games at all this year. Iâm looking forward to that after the All-Star break. Weâre going to get Avery Bradley and Jaylen Brown back; itâll take a few games to get acclimated, I think, but after that, the rest of March and April if we can remain healthy, youâll see what the potential of this team is.â
Thumbnail photo via Russ Isabella/USA TODAY Sports Images