Final game before trade deadline a showcase for Celtics who could be on the move
On Wednesday night, the Celtics will host the team with the NBA's best record, the Atlanta Hawks, in their final game before the All-Star break. Due to the expansion of the break this season, every team will have at least eight days off, so this will also be the last game prior to the February 19 trading deadline.
When Boston next plays in Sacramento on February 20, it could be a very different team that takes the floor. General manager Danny Ainge, seemingly emboldened after finally shipping Rajon Rondo to Dallas in December, has made a flurry of moves since then, and he has every reason to stay active over the next 10 days.
Besides the now-departed Jeff Green and Rondo, the other player many expected to be traded at some point this season was Brandon Bass. The big man is averaging 9.6 points and 4.2 rebounds in just 20.8 minutes per game, his lowest average playing time in five years, and a few teams in the playoff race, especially out West, could see him as the missing piece to put them over the top. According to Sean Deveny at Sporting News, Phoenix and Portland stand out as possible destinations.
The Celtics have three other players on the roster who are set to become unrestricted free agents after this season: Tayshaun Prince, Shavlik Randolph and Marcus Thornton. While Randolph has yet to suit up for the C's, the other two look like prime trade targets.
Thornton recently told reporters that he'd like to stay in Boston, while acknowledging the fact that he could soon be packing his bags.
I would like to stay here. Who wouldn't? We've got a good thing going. But like I said, it's not controllable. I can't control it. So whatever happens, happens.
For the time being, everybody's just here playing. Off the court we're great with each other, so that helps too.
Prince's brief time as a Celtic has already been a roller coaster: when he was acquired from Memphis in the Green trade, initial reports had him negotiating a buy-out with the team. Instead, he played very well in seven games, then missed four with a hip pointer before returning with eight points and five boards in Milwaukee on Saturday.
At this point, potential trade partners likely know exactly what they'd be getting out of Bass, Prince or Thornton, but anything they can do against the red-hot Hawks to drive up the price will be appreciated by their GM.
Ainge's history means that a lack of deadline moves would be the real surprise here. If he sees the chance to stockpile more future assets rather than let a guy like Bass walk for free in the offseason, there is little question that he'll take it.