In an attempt to better ready his team for the future, Danny Ainge has been among the NBA's most aggressive general managers over the past year and a half. The Celtics have made seven trades since July, including five since October. Boston netted a whopping 15 players in those deals, many of whom never took the court in green and white.
And the movement might be far from over.
As Ainge continues his rebuild, the current Celtics wait to find out if they'll still be around when the dust settles from the Feb. 19 trading deadline. Players viewed as foundational building blocks such as Marcus Smart, Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk can breathe easy, though Smart might be the team's only truly untouchable player.
But even those who appear settled in Boston will have to deal with even more turnover as Ainge examines his prospective deals. The deadline figures to see at least one or two moves made, leading to more roster upheaval and more adjusting to new faces.
The rebuilding process has had its affect on Brad Stevens, who won more than 77 percent of his games at Butler before joining Boston in 2013. Stevens is just 44-88 with the retooling Celtics and he clearly understands the trading deadline could further weaken his current team as the Celtics try to clear salary and stockpile future assets:
"The biggest challenge of the last year and a half has been constant movement. We're talking about, how do you come together in two or three weeks? It's not feasible against the competition you're playing. That's why the young guys and the people that have been here have to continue to move forward and be better, and everybody has done a pretty good job of that. To their credit, they've all done so unselfishly, which is aided in that act greatly."
The players most likely on the move this time around are veterans Brandon Bass, Marcus Thornton and Tayshaun Prince, a trio all in the final year of their deals and players who could be useful to a contender. Combined they play nearly 60 minutes and average 27 points per game. Replacing their production would be a chore.
Yet every move the Celtics have made recently is about the future, something Prince, Thornton and Bass don't figure to be a part of. If moving them brings in valuable future assets, Ainge won't hesitate to pull the trigger.
And if setting Boston up for future contention is the goal, Ainge appears to be succeeding. Here's the Celtics deep chest of future picks, provided by Sam D'Amico of Celtics.com:
The C’s currently possess the rights to as many as 12 first-round picks in the next four drafts, including up to eight in the next two drafts. The final number of first-rounders that Boston will own is dependent upon conditions that are attached to many of the picks. Those conditions will also affect the number of second-round picks the Celtics will own over the next few drafts, but suffice to say, they own a lot of them.
After a flurry of midseason trades, the Celtics haven't made a move since Jan. 15, but that could change at any moment. The players have no control over the future or that of their teammates - they're forced to sit tight and wait like everyone else, then deal with the aftermath.
As Tyler Zeller told Jay King at Mass Live:
"I think things have slowed down a lot recently, but at the same time, you never know what's going to happen. My first two years in the league, I've learned that the week leading up to (the trade deadline) is a crazy week where a lot of things start to happen. And then especially that last day, a lot of kind of things you didn't expect will happen. So I think every year, everybody's on their toes for that week. And you just have to wait and see what happens."
Photo credit: Winslow Towson, Associated PressDan Hoppen 2/11/2015 10:08:00 AM Tweet Edit