The Boston Celtics already did a lot to improve their team in the offseason, including trading for star point guard Kyrie Irving. Perhaps this is why GM Danny Ainge didn’t feel pressured to make any big moves on Thursday’s trade deadline.
Boston stayed put despite the fact that Eastern Conference rival Cleveland made three trades that involved swapping six players for four new faces. The Celtics, meanwhile, only signed free-agent center Greg Monroe to fill out their last roster spot.
Another reason why Boston is comfortable right now is because they currently hold a 7.5-game lead over the Cavaliers, who bounced them from the conference finals last season. Boston (40-17) is in second place in the East, and they sit just a half game back of the Toronto Raptors (38-16).
Ainge Happy with the Current Roster
The fact that Cleveland made three deals at the Feb. 8 trade deadline wasn’t lost on Ainge. However, he wasn’t exactly dwelling on the moves either.
“We’d gotten a little bit of wind that they were making some big changes but without knowing the details of it,” Ainge told ESPN. “But, listen, we have our own problems to worry about and we’re just taking care of the Boston Celtics.”
“There was an idea that we didn’t need to do anything. We really liked this group of guys and, obviously, they have been having success,” he explained.
“We have a really good core young group of guys too, along with [All-Star big man] Al [Horford]. We don’t really want to make a mess out of that but, at the same time, you just never know when good players could become available. We had to kick the tires, but we didn’t feel the need to do much.”
Busy Summer Negates the Need for Major Trades
The Celtics felt like they needed some major upgrades after being handled in the conference finals by the Cavs. They returned just four players from last season’s squad in an attempt to change their fortunes in the 2017-18 campaign.
The biggest move involved acquiring Irving from Cleveland in exchange for All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, and the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round pick.
Many wondered how this year’s unit would come together, especially since Boston underwent such a makeover. They also dealt a player in Thomas who earned second-team All-NBA honors.
Thomas, who caused some drama in Cleveland, was dealt to the LA Lakers at the deadline. And he wasn’t exactly happy that Boston dealt him to the Cavs.
In hindsight, Boston’s decision to deal for Irving seems like a great decision now. And they’re considered to be favorites in the East by some.
Monroe should Help Boston’s Late Season Push
The Celtics already have Aron Baynes starting at center. But they acquired another starting-caliber big man in Monroe for relatively cheap. Monroe was able to negotiate a buyout with the Phoenix Suns in early February. Now, he’s going to be on a roster that’s already loaded with talent.
“Greg brings some experience, low-post play, and he’s a terrific passer from the perimeter,” said Ainge. “[Coach] Brad [Stevens] likes to run his offense through bigs out on the perimeter a lot, so that could be helpful, and he’s been a good rebounder.”
Monroe will compete with Baynes and backup center Daniel Theis for minutes. He’s no doubt set for some kind of role, thanks to his rebounding and low-post abilities.
Celtics will be Active on the Buyout Market
While we didn’t see any major trades from Boston, they do have plans to keep looking for solid veterans on the buyout market.
“We’ll look and see who’s bought out,” Ainge explained. “I don’t think there’s a big hole for us, so we’ll look for a good player who’s better than what we have.”
Most of the team’s deep bench players consist of inexperienced rookies. And Boston could use a little more scoring punch off their bench. This is why some expected them to go after Memphis Grizzlies guard Tyreke Evans.
“I know what we think of them. Teams are appreciating the value of first-round picks,” said Ainge. “It’s easy to justify their value away because if you have a pick in the 20s, it has a 10 percent chance of being a rotation player.
“But people are understanding the value of those players and roster building. Most of the good teams around [the league] have players from the middle of the first and second round that are contributing.”
2018 Celtics Futures After Trade Deadline
Considering that Boston was quiet during the trade deadline, their 2018 futures didn’t improve.
In fact, they’re still behind Cleveland on our GTBets futures market, despite being several games ahead of them in the standings. Here’s a look at the top contending teams in the East right now.
2018 NBA Eastern Conference Champion Futures
Much of the current futures are based on what LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers have done in past seasons. That said, Boston may have to go through LeBron to win the conference, especially since the Cavs have won the East three straight seasons.