Contend or rebuild: Celtics must come together on post All-Star plan
With no participants in the weekend's All-Star activities, the Celtics can use the midseason break to rest and get their minds prepared for a potential second-half run. But maybe the most important aspect of this weekend is making sure the team and management are on the same page.
The Celtics haven't been shy about shipping out current players for future assets this season, as Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green, Brandan Wright, Austin Rivers and Jameer Nelson have all been sent packing to acquire either more draft picks or cap space. Boston has three more pieces it could be looking to deal - forwards Brandon Bass and Tayshaun Prince and guard Marcus Thornton, all of whom are in the final year of their contracts and could help a contender.
Team president Danny Ainge has been aggressive in his rebuilding plan, and though Boston hasn't made a move since Jan. 15, he's indicated more action could before the Feb. 19 deadline.
Danny Ainge: "We're ready. We have a lot of bullets...assets we can move for a lot of diff things...this is one of those 'turning points.'"
Brad Stevens has made it quite clear he's not into tanking and has pined for the chance for his team to develop some continuity. As Stevens told Jay King of Mass Live, he'd like to see if the current squad can make a run:
"I'd love for us to have as little movement as possible, but I understand that (the front office) guys will do their jobs, and they'll take everything and look at it, and figure out how best to move forward with our team."
"Especially with 30-some-odd games left, I think that we have a good momentum. We have a good group of young guys that are figuring out -- like I talked about before with Atlanta -- how to become stars in their own roles. Because I think that's the key. And that's why we've been able to have a little bit of success here and there, I think. That and the defensive end of the floor."
Despite being 20-31, Boston is just 1.5 games behind both Miami and Charlotte for a playoff spot. The Celtics are 7-7 since making their last trade and won four of their last fives games, including an impressive victory over the East-leading Hawks.
But Boston wouldn't stand a chance in a seven-game series against Atlanta, leading back to the tough question facing every middle-of-the-pack NBA team - is it better to make the playoffs with no hope of advancing or blow things up to improve a team's odds in the lottery?
There's no question which way Stevens wants to go. He's not used to dealing with this amount of losing and clearly wants to gun for that final playoff spot. And there's something to be said for gaining playoff experience - getting young guns Marcus Smart, James Young, Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk some postseason run could prove beneficial when the team is truly read to contend.
At the same time, Ainge has proven his eyes are on the future, and the Celtics might be better off securing one of the draft's top talents to stock the roster for future playoff runs. Can the two get on the same page before the deadline, and what will they agree on?