Despite Gordon Hayward's injury, Celtics timeline is NOW!

After Gordon Hayward's injury, I felt the same as many Celtics fans, namely that all hopes of an NBA title were gone for this season. I no longer feel like that. With a minor move or two leading up to the trade deadline and the DPE expiration, Boston has a legitimate shot at getting past Cleveland and into the Finals, with a reasonable chance to upset the Warriors. And there is always the possibility of Hayward's return this year.

Today will be important since recently-bought-out Greg Monroe is expected to make his decision between a chance for a Title with Boston or going with his home town of New Orleans and the opportunity for more playing time. I have a good friend, Brad, in the North Country of New Hampshire who I jokingly refer to as The Great Communicator because he won't tell you a damn thing. Danny Ainge is worse, but I understand his reasoning. He doesn't want to break any NBA rules and he will not chance giving his future moves away.

I am guessing that Ainge would only offer Monroe the vet minimum and keep the DPE which expires on March 10th. Here is analysis from the Boston Globe's Gary Washburn:

The Celtics could use Monroe. Aron Baynes has had his moments this season but has proved to be a poor finisher around the rim and foul prone. When he struggles, it places more pressure on backup Daniel Theis, and while he has exceeded all expectations with his production, he is still a rookie and that frontcourt could use a veteran presence.

“I would say that our record doesn’t change our approach,” Ainge told the Globe. “But how in my eyes I see where we are in the real world. Records can be deceiving but where I feel our team is. Those obviously are factors in whether we do trades or stay patient and how much we give up and all those things.”

Now I will give my analysis. If Greg decides to come to Boston, I believe he will get significant minutes, at least after he has some games under his belt. The Celtics' offense needs a boost, and Monroe can give them that. Aron Baynes may see his minutes drop, but Daniel Theis, as a rookie, should see his regular-season minutes remain close to where they are now, but then drop during the playoff run.

Ainge's quotes in the second paragraph above are interesting. I take his statement to indicate he does not feel Boston's record reflects its ability. That is true. It doesn't. They need an upgrade, specifically on offense. Danny's close-to-the-vest statement tells me he knows he needs to make a move but it needs to be the right guy, for the right price that will fit well into the Celtics system. But as Gary Washburn indicates, "He (Ainge) won’t offer any hints."

Danny Ainge can use a pro-rated DPE to sign Monroe, but I believe that will not be the path the Celtics choose. Further complicating the upcoming decisions would be the recent stellar play of guard, Terry Rozier. In the last three games, T-Ro has averaged a starter-like 28.9 minutes, 11.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.0 blocks. It is a small sample but might indicate his value going forward. Combine those stats with Terry's bull dog defense, and you have a potential star-in-the-making. All of this could be a partial determinant of Marcus Smart's future.

So stay close to CelticsLife in the next week or more. There will be constant updates.

Follow Tom at @TomLane HC
Photo via Nicholas Pfosi/Boston Globe