Ainge: C's likely need big; trade talk quiet

March, 12, 2012
3/12/12
10:19
PM ET
Barry Chin/Getty ImagesDanny Ainge admitted the health uncertainty around his team makes this trade deadline trickier to navigate.
LOS ANGELES -- Three days before the NBA trade deadline, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Monday night that all is quiet at the moment, but acknowledged that the team will likely be seeking another big body and stressed that the addition might not necessarily come via a trade.

Ainge said there remains uncertainty surrounding centers Jermaine O'Neal (left wrist) and Chris Wilcox (cardiac issue) and that he will head back to Boston on Tuesday to find out more about their long-term prognosis. He seemed to acknowledge the potential that both players could miss the rest of the season, but said that determination won't be made until later this week when he meets with both players and team doctors.

But Boston is certainly examining the market for a center.

"We need another big body at some point," Ainge said. "Depending on the [medical] results, if Chris and Jermaine can play, that changes things, then we don’t need any more bigs."

But Ainge kept coming back to needing another big, which seems to hint to a likelihood that at least one -- or both players -- will not be back this season. Even so, Ainge said the need for another center does not necessarily mean the team will make a deal before Thursday's deadline.

"I don’t feel like we have to do anything, other than we eventually have to get another big body," Ainge said. "But I don’t think you have to make a trade at all."

If the Celtics can't find a deal that brings back a proven big man -- and doesn't sacrifice future financial flexibility -- the team could examine other options to clear roster space, including releasing (or buying out) a player on its currently maxed-out 15-man roster. The Celtics then would have the ability to add a big man, either another buyout player or a free agent, maybe one toiling in the D-League in order to fill the void up front. But clearly the preference is to add an impact big man as opposed to someone to give the team emergency size.

Ainge said that if rookie center Greg Stiemsma, who is battling a right foot ailment but gutting through with the team in need of minutes up front, continues to show he can be serviceable at backup center, it also takes some of the urgency off finding a big man. But it's clear the team is in pursuit of a big to bolster the roster entering the stretch run.

As for the medical uncertainty making his job harder at the deadline, Ainge said he was more concerned about the others around the team.

"It makes [Kevin Garnett's] and Brandon [Bass'] job harder, and [coach] Doc [Rivers'] job harder," Ainge said. "We have to play different obviously, we’re [potentially] losing our two centers that have started for us this year. We’ll have to find a way to win other ways."

As for the potential for trade activity, Ainge suggested nothing is imminent -- big or small -- with the Celtics.

"There’s nothing going on right now, but we’ll see," he said. "There’s always a lot of calls. That's no different than usual, you get calls a lot. That doesn’t always translate into any results."

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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