January 5th is typically the day when resolve starts to slip. New Year’s resolutions are always works in progress and after four of days being good, the habit is still at least 10 days away from cementing into a permanent action. The experts say that you should stay strong and it will pay off whether you’re trying to read more, lose weight, or trying to make the best decisions as the President of Basketball Operations for the franchise with the most titles in NBA history.
Recently, Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver wrote his own New Year’s resolutions for the NBA Eastern Conference. For the Boston Celtics, Golliver preached what we should all do when it comes to making changes for a healthy new year-- stay patient, stay alert, and stay strong.
Every roster-building option is on the table for president Danny Ainge, who has expendable and affordable trade pieces and a plethora of future draft picks at his disposal. The calls to trade for a star—DeMarcus Cousins and Carmelo Anthony are the biggest names on lottery-bound teams—will continue unabated up until the deadline, but Boston should tread lightly. While an incoming star might theoretically punch up an inconsistent offense, he might also disrupt the productive defensive chemistry or alter what has become a positive, team-first culture.
Since the Celtics started their rebuild Ainge has fared on the side of caution when trading for a star player while been aggressive in trading away as many assets as possible. While many of the new additions to put on a green uniform in the last three years have begun to emerge as Celtic centerpieces-- namely Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder-- the moves that would land to a potential NBA 2k coverboy have never made it past the rumor stage.
And that’s totally fine.
The Celtics could be big movers by the trade deadline-- they have more than enough assets to get creative. Between low-cost-high-value contracts like the aforementioned IT, AB, and Crowder (how does he not have a nickname yet?), the still-on-rookie-deal gems like Olynyk, Sullinger, and Smart, a treasure chest full of draft picks, and a big expiring contract attached to David Lee, there are at least 29 different offers coming in from the 29 other teams in the NBA, all of which could be entertained by Ainge… but to what end and why are the questions that must be answered.
The East is just as volatile in 2015-16 as it was in 2014-15 while the basketball is much, much better. The Celtics lack the familiar structure we’ve come to recognize as an eye-test-passing contending team, but the defensive minded attack mode the team puts on the floor more often than not and on-the-same-pagedness this team seems have shows that the Coach Stevens, the front office, and the roster are on to something. That something might be too good to shake up with a big trade that may or may not pan out.
The race in the East is so tight that a single win or loss is rocketing teams up and down the rankings daily. Teams like Cleveland and Chicago are packed with All-Star contenders, but that’s not making the kind of difference it has in the past. As of the writing of this piece, the Cavs are 1st place in the East with 22 wins. The Celtics are in 8th place with 18 wins. Would trading low-cost building blocks and future lottery tickets away for an All-Star contract make a bigger difference than sticking with a team that is starting to find it’s groove?
The deals are going to be out there and Trader Danny should he choose to pull a trigger or two. The best deal may be the one he doesn’t make as the immediate future is much brighter than it would be with an acquired big contract and less keepable pieces on the roster. Regardless of where the C’s finish in the standings, they’ll be walking into the off-season with a ton of cap space and more assets than they can keep. Inevitably, moves HAVE to be made. They just don’t HAVE to be made right now.
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Photo Courtesy of RantSports.comPadraic O'Connor 1/05/2016 08:00:00 AM Tweet Edit