Boston Celtics: Trade2012
Earlier Wednesday, Yahoo! Sports reported that the Celtics were close to a deal that would have sent Allen to the Memphis Grizzlies for a package that included O.J. Mayo and a draft pick. The report indicated that Rivers even called Allen to alert him to the trade -- Rivers said he never did that, but acknowledged that Allen and Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge were in contact during the trade talks -- and the coach said he breathed a sigh of relief when Boston's core emerged intact when the deadline passed.
"It was a scary moment, for all of us. If you lose Ray, that’s a scary moment," said Rivers. "He’s pretty good."
Asked if he was in favor of keeping the Big Three together, Rivers added, "I wouldn't want to see Ray, Paul [Pierce], or Kevin [Garnett] ever moved. That’s just how you are. Even if you got the best deal in the world, you’re still losing guys you have an attachment with. That would be scary for me, or any of us."
Rivers tried to dismiss Wednesday's hoopla, suggesting it was old news for Boston.
"I don’t see what the big deal is, that was a month ago," said Rivers. "I’m serious, I don’t get the big deal of it."
Rivers also said the near deal had no lingering impact on Allen or the team.
"Our guys are great, that’s the point," said Rivers. "Afterwards, we were all good; just moved forward. That’s what I love about this team."
As the NBA trade deadline lurched into its final hour a month ago, league sources say the call Ray Allen long feared had come: Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers was on the line, telling him he had been traded. Allen had been sent to the Memphis Grizzlies for a package including O.J. Mayo and a draft pick, and the Celtics' Big Three had come to a most brusque ending.
For 20 minutes or so, Allen had to process the information. They traded me to Memphis? And yet, as the disappointment dissolved to anger, Rivers returned with a messenger’s nightmare: Never mind. The deal fell apart. Take a deep breath and let’s go back to work again.
Before the Big Three could make it past the trade deadline, Allen-to-the-Grizzlies had to fall apart and discussions on a deal that would have sent Paul Pierce to the New Jersey Nets for an expiring Mehmet Okur contract and a lottery pick never reached completion, league sources said. Celtics general manager Danny Ainge loves the talent in the 2012 NBA draft, but he still gets one more run, one more chance with this group in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
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What's your take? Did the Celtics do the right thing in keeping the band together or should they have pushed harder to make one of these deadline deals? Sound off in the comments.
"I guess what prevented any trade was making at least two teams in a deal happy, or satisfied that a deal was worthwhile," said Ainge. "But as late as 2:57, there was still trades that were possible and being negotiated. We were close to handful of different types of trades -- small to bigger -- that just couldn’t be resolved. That happens often."
Asked later if he approached the deadline as a buyer or a seller, Ainge added, "I was looking at both opportunities, to strengthen our team for the playoff run this year and/or build some chips and some assets for future. We actually had a lot of conversation on both sides, but nothing seemed good enough to do."
Ainge acknowledged the lingering need to add a big man and said the team will move slowly with an eye on who becomes available via buyouts over the next eight days before the waiver deadline for playoff eligibility.
"We do need to add a big man," said Ainge. "We’re waiting to find the best big man available. And we’ll be a little bit patient on that, and see who is available."
As for buyouts on the Boston side, a possible scenario with both Chris Wilcox and Jermaine O'Neal, Ainge said he will know more soon.
"We haven’t gotten there yet," he said. "That is a possibility, but I haven’t addressed that with any of our players yet."
Ainge said he is scheduled to meet with O'Neal on Friday. The veteran center has missed the last 11 games after aggravating a long-standing left wrist injury. Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Thursday in San Francisco that he didn't expect O'Neal to be back with the team this season.
"I’m actually going to meet with [O'Neal on Friday]," said Ainge. "I've just have been swamped the last few days since I got back from L.A. ... [O'Neal is] actually working out here [at the team's practice facility in Waltham]. I have an appointment with him tomorrow."
And does Ainge expect a resolution?
"I don’t know. Good question, I don’t know what’s going to come from that meeting," he said.
"I'm happy [the deadline is] done so we can just get on and keep playing," said Rivers. "So at least the talk part of it is gone. I hope nobody exhales and stops playing. Because we’ve been playing well...
"I like our group. Obviously, I’d like to add a big, and that’s still possible. I do like our group. Let’s see if we can get on a run here, and move up in the standings and see if we can get in the playoffs healthy, then let’s see what happens."
Rivers acknowledged that trade chatter might have weighed on his team a bit this season, though they hardly showed it while posting an 8-2 record in the 10 games since the All-Star break. Rivers said he felt it weighed on his guys more in past seasons.
As for O'Neal, Rivers shrugged when asked if there was clarity about his future. O'Neal has missed the last 11 games since aggravating a longstanding left wrist injury in Dallas before the All-Star break. O'Neal was taking some time to ponder his options, including a cortisone shot that might allow him to play out the rest of the year, or season-ending surgery.
"No, I don’t think he’ll be back, but nothing is clear," said Rivers. "It’s not been finalized, but I don’t see him playing."
Rivers noted he hasn't had a conversation with O'Neal recently, leading him to believe that he won't be back this year.
As for adding another big man, Rivers hinted the team won't make an immediate move to clear a spot, instead taking some time to examine what becomes available via buyouts around the league. The team will also wait to see how things play out with O'Neal before deciding whether they'll buy out Chris Wilcox, who will miss the remainder of the season as he preps for aortic surgery later this month.
"Right now there’s no reason to do anything, but if there’s a chance we can get another guy, then we’re going to have make a roster spot," said Rivers, who later added, "There probably will be some [buyout] guys [available]. The buyout follows the trade thing, so then you have to wait and see what you can get. Then we’ll know more."
WHAT IT MEANS
When Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Wednesday night in Oakland that he believed the team would be fully intact when the deadline passed, he wasn't lying. The Celtics appear to have resisted any temptation to either splurge on an addition (which would have required forfeiting future assets) or break up their core (which would have essentially suggested they weren't contenders this season). Rivers seems to believe this team can contend as currently constituted. "If we’re healthy, especially all of our starters, I like who we are," he said. "I like our team, I like our team spirit." With the Celtics playing inspired ball in the second half of the season -- winning eight of 10 since the All-Star break -- the team seems content to lean on the talent they have and hope to rekindle some of that postseason magic while giving the core of this team their last rodeo (all while maintaining that future financial flexibility they've worked so hard to preserve).
The Celtics are still in the market for a big man, but will turn their attention to the buyout scrapheap. The waiver deadline for playoff eligibility is little more than a week away (March 23), meaning Boston can examine who becomes available (will the Hornets buy out Chris Kaman?) during the next eight days and decide if any interest them (it's worth noting that buyout players like Troy Murphy and Carlos Arroyo were disappointments after joining the team via that route a year ago). The Celtics have some work to do, anyhow, with a need to consider potential buyouts for Chris Wilcox and Jermaine O'Neal in order to free the necessary roster space to add another body. Wilcox will miss the remainder of the season as he preps for aortic surgery on March 29, while O'Neal and his ailing left wrist remained in a holding pattern as the team explored options for his expiring $6.2 million contract at the deadline.
It's rare that the Celtics let the deadline pass quietly, but in recent weeks, both Rivers and Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge have stressed the need to be disciplined, with a goal of not erasing all the cap space they're set to free up this offseason. Yes, the team could have used some additional bench talent and clearly it needs another big man. But the asking price likely didn't match up with the value of the team's future assets, particularly with only 45 days left in the regular season (and rotations set to tighten up in the playoffs). All in all, it's not particularly surprising that the Celtics were quiet on this day. Boston will dance with the one that brought it.
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.
Ainge stressed he’s happy with the makeup of the Celtics, who have gone 8-2 since the All-Star break, and reiterated his stance that he’d be satisfied with his team going forward even if he was unable to make an addition.
“I have no desire to move anybody on our team,” Ainge said. "It’s just I have to look and so far I have nothing. We don’t have anything that we’re really excited about right now. If somebody steps up and ups their offers today who knows what might happen by the trade deadline. But I am prepared and comfortable with letting the season play out. If somebody wants to throw in first-round draft picks or give quality young players, that’s something we have to consider.”
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."
Boston is aggressively shopping Rondo, according to sources. The Celtics find Rondo's personality to be too high-maintenance and his clashes with coach Doc Rivers continue. With the Celtics having realized they are no longer title contenders, they don't believe the payoff is worth the headaches Rondo brings, sources say. And they do not want to build around him. In December, the Celtics had discussions with Golden State about a Stephen Curry-for-Rondo deal, and one source says it was Golden State that decided against pulling the trigger. But Curry's recent ankle injuries, which have caused him several problems in his short career, have given the Celtics pause. The potential trade is still being discussed by Boston's braintrust, but they aren't sure they want to go forward with it. It also isn't clear whether the Warriors would be willing to do it. Other players would have to be thrown in to make it work financially.
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