We are quickly approaching the NBA trade deadline and the Boston Celtics are in prime position to make a move that could alter their franchise for the next decade. The picks obtained from Brooklyn in the Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce trade are beginning to bear fruit, and they look like cornerstone picks for a team that is already loaded with young talent. In the upcoming draft, Boston has three first round picks (Brooklyn, Boston, Dallas) that right now would be slotted at three, 19, and 23. The Celtics also own the second round picks of the Philadelphia 76ers and the Minnesota Timberwolves, two picks that will be in the 30's.
All these picks are great, but does Boston have room to add all these players to the roster? No way.
With that being said, let's revisit the current situation the Celtics are facing. Boston is 32-23, third in the Eastern Conference and playing excellent basketball. They are clearly a flawed team, but they are talented, play extremely hard, and they have maybe the best coach in the NBA. They may (I say will) win 50 games and have a shot at catching Toronto for the two seed, but without a go-to guy and/or a dominant big, they'll most likely succumb to the Cavaliers again.
The team is showing great signs of growth, but they need a star to take them to the next level. Fans want to see it happen by Thursday at 3pm, but sometimes is just isn't that easy. There are three current players that Boston would be willing to trade for using their Brooklyn chip- DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Love, and Blake Griffin. If the Celtics were able to trade for one of those players, they would give up the Brooklyn pick in a heartbeat. Griffin would be the best overall fit, but Doc Rivers is quoted as saying it isn't happening. Cousins would be great too, but that front office is in disarray and there is no way ownership is trading away their top asset until they have a new GM in place. All three players are young and have multiple years left on their contracts, but Love may be the only real option.
Danny Ainge has been very aggressive and has been involved with trade conversations throughout the league, but this has been going on for almost two years now, and the only big trade they've made was sending Rondo to Dallas(the Isaiah Thomas deal was a small deal, but a steal). This isn't Ainge's fault, he's been aggressive, but other teams are weary of trading for a pick (2016 Brooklyn pick) that is not yet defined but is absolutely Boston's best asset. Yes, it's going to be a top five pick, but the fifth pick and the first pick are two totally different things, and most GM's aren't in the business of dealing away star big men in their 20's for a pick that may not get them a great prospect in return.
It has been reported that Al Horford is the favorite to land in Boston, but there is no way Ainge is trading that 2016 Brooklyn pick for a 30-year old who is entering free agency this summer. If Horford is the guy and Boston does work out a deal, it will be for a mix of players and first round picks, namely Boston's own pick, the Dallas pick, and future first rounders that Boston owns.
Kevin Love is Ainge's white whale; he's been trying to land Love for two years and now may be his best shot because it's pretty clear that he doesn't fit in Cleveland. Give Ainge credit for never backing off because he knows that Love is a first-option player being used the wrong way. It isn't Tyronn Lue's fault, and it wasn't David Blatt's fault either; this Cav's team is built wrong, mainly because Lebron can't see that he is a power forward and needs to play with good wings and guards to make him better. The biggest mistake the Cav's made was trading Andrew Wiggins, a player that would have fit in nicely in Cleveland.
Will the Cav's finally admit their error and trade Love to Boston? It is a question that most thought was dead when Love re-signed for five years this summer. Now that it's clear last year was not an aberration and Love doesn't fit, why wait and lose another championship when an an aggressive trade may improve your team? That is something Cleveland is weighing as I type this article.
One thing is sure- the Cav's aren't trading Love for picks, they'll only do it for established players. If they are sending Love to Boston, they are strengthening one of their top competitors in the East, so not adding a quality player could put them in a position where they lose to Boston and miss the finals; that would be a tough sell to a championship-starved fan base.
There is another thing Boston could do but most fans don't want to hear this; they could simply do nothing at all and wait until the summer when their pick is defined and teams are making deals that are less one-sided. Teams tend to overspend when trading at the deadline, and Danny knows this, so don't expect to see him overspend unless it's for one of the aforementioned three. Boston will make the playoffs with the team they currently have, and they will make some noise; Danny Ainge isn't going to let someone heist his hard-earned picks when he knows his current team is growing and patience always wins out in the end.
Celtics fans, enjoy the next 16 hours, but please don't be angry if Danny doesn't pull off a huge trade tomorrow. He is doing the right thing, adding talent every year, and bringing this team back to contention must faster than anyone would have imagined. Boston is in the best position going into tomorrow because of Ainge's patience and decision-making, so whatever he decides to do, you should trust he's making the right move; he's earned that right.
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