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Thoughts as deadline approaches

3/15/2012

SAN FRANCISCO -- A couple of thoughts with the NBA's 3 p.m. trade deadline an hour away:

Why trade Ray Allen?: While the Big Three and Rajon Rondo all got a chance to dance in the trade winds this season, the final gust seems to center on Ray Allen (both the Boston Herald and Yahoo! reported teams are calling on Allen). Contenders would surely love to add his elite offensive talents as part of their playoff push and he's fairly easy to integrate into any offense. But why would Boston consider it? The Celtics are 5-0 this season when Allen hasn't played, winning those games by a whopping average of 15.6 points per game (somewhat skewed by that 31-point thrashing of the Magic in January). That said, the Celtics have employed four different players at shooting guard in Allen's absences -- Avery Bradley, Keyon Dooling, Sasha Pavlovic, and Mickael Pietrus (twice) -- and the end result has always been a victory (despite limiting scoring contributions from those players). Boston's defense improves when the likes of Pavlovic or Pietrus take that spot and opponents averaged a mere 78 points per game when Allen was out. That said, Allen's value to Boston and its often-stagnant offense is probably greater than what another team would give up to get him. The Celtics would seemingly love to get younger at that position and bring back another first-round pick (giving them three with the two they already own in their own and the Clippers pick). But remember that any pick a contender would give up would be in the back end of the draft, so the Celtics would likely be looking for an impact player along with it, and it's hard to imagine that all coming together from a contender.

The Jermaine O'Neal holding pattern: The Celtics have been noticeably mum on Jermaine O'Neal since he detailed his options for an ailing left wrist (cortisone shot or season-ending surgery). Essentially, it appears he's been put in a big old holding pattern. The team is likely exploring ways to use his expiring $6.2 million contract in a trade to bolster its bench, but they'd have to bundle something else to get anything of substance (and both Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge have expressed reluctance to sacrifice future assets for anything less than a rotation player). Once the deadline passes, the Celtics can determine if it's in their best interest to buy out O'Neal to free a roster spot. Yahoo!, citing sources, reported that O'Neal has strong interest in returning to Miami, which might make Boston reluctant to set him free. O'Neal has often expressed a great appreciation for the doctors in Miami, believing they contributed to him staying upright for 70 games in the 2009-10 campaign. What's more, he's often noted his only remaining goal as a player is that elusive championship and clearly the Heat have potential to help him accomplish that.