As the clock hit 3:00 PM on Thursday, the Boston Celtics didn't make any moves at the NBA trade deadline. However, according to Danny Ainge, it wasn't for lack of trying.
In an interview this morning on 98.5 The Sports Hub, Ainge stated that the C's were "very close" to pulling off a blockbuster trade before the other team backed out. And the most mysterious part is that Danny insinuated that the superstar he was attempting to acquire was not any that had been linked to Boston in trade rumors leading up to the deadline:
Info Ainge gave me indicated #Celtics near-deal did NOT involve Horford, Howard, Griffin, Love or other previously reported stars.— Adam Kaufman (@AdamMKaufman) February 19, 2016
ALSO: Danny Ainge said the mystery team involved would've surprised fans because rumor was "never reported" #Celtics https://t.co/wT5QixfFn2— Adam Kaufman (@AdamMKaufman) February 19, 2016
Ainge was tight lipped about giving any other clues about the player or the team, but stressed that the deal was very close to happening.
From ESPN Boston:
"We were very close. One story I probably can share with you is, I can’t tell you the team or the name, but it was very close," Ainge said. "It was something that we had been deliberating on for two days straight. The other team was doing that. And we were wrapping ourselves around a big package to do a deal. At the very last minute, they just said they did not want to do it. They just backed out. It was a deal that was talked about, thought about, and that was probably the closest that we came."
Ainge later added: "We were willing to do one deal, it just didn't happen. Both teams weren't ready to go and it was a really tough, close deal. It was certainly not a no-brainer. There was risk on both sides. But, at the end of the day, both teams were not ready to do it."
Danny also didn't elaborate on what pieces the Celtics would have moved to make the deal happen, but in a separate interview with WBZ, he did suggest that the Brooklyn draft pick would have been in play. In addition, the possibility remains to revisit the pursuit of this player "later on down the road" (most likely this summer):
"Every team has different goals, but ultimately I think that a lot of discussions that we had, I think can set the path for something later on down the road," Ainge said. "Before we got Kevin Garnett, it was something that we had talked about for two years. So you just never know what might happen later. So we’ll keep at it. I feel good that we still have a lot of good young players, a lot of good young players on good contracts, a team that is playing really well, a great coach. And we have a lot of assets. So we’ll just see how it goes next time around this summer.”
In a separate radio appearance with Boston news radio WBZ, Ainge said Brooklyn’s 2016 pick would have likely been included in the proposed blockbuster and that the star player coming back to Boston was not part of the rumors that swirled before the draft.
So who could this mystery superstar be if it's not Al Horford, Dwight Howard, Kevin Love, or Blake Griffin? Could it be James Harden? Carmelo Anthony? Jimmy Butler? Paul George? Kevin Durant? DeMarcus Cousins? Or is Danny just bluffing?
Leave your ideas in the comments below.
UPDATE: The Boston Herald's Steve Bulpett has identified the mystery player as 76ers center Jahlil Okafor.
Updated column identifying Jahlil Okafor as the subject of Celtics' "mystery pursuit." https://t.co/osevlwxje8— Steve Bulpett (@SteveBHoop) February 20, 2016
Photo: Matthew J. Lee/Boston Globe Danielle Hobeika 2/19/2016 05:08:00 PM Tweet Edit