Celtics keeping options open before deadline

Celtics keeping options open before deadline
February 17, 2014, 11:00 am
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PHOENIX — The All-Star weekend is a thing of the past now.

All thoughts have now shifted towards this week's NBA trade deadline which is sure to be filled with some last-second moves made by championship-caliber teams and a few "cleansing-of-the-roster" type deals for teams at the bottom of the food chain.

That's where the Boston Celtics (19-35) find themselves in what's expected to be an active trading season for the Green Team.

But it remains to be seen whether Danny Ainge will continue to chip away at this roster brick-by-brick, or decide to take a wrecking ball to it before Thursday's trade deadline and move some of his larger contract players like point guard Rajon Rondo and Kris Humphries, the two highest-paid players on the team.

"We can go in a lot of directions," Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, recently told CSNNE.com. "But I think people sometimes forget, it takes two teams, at least two teams, to get a deal done."

It also takes highly-coveted players, which is something that isn't necessarily a given when it comes to the Celtics.

There are a number of players on the roster that teams like. But like enough to trade for? That's a different story.

There will continue to be rumors about possible trade partners for Jeff Green and Brandon Bass. But the truth is nobody on this roster is safe; that is except for Chris Johnson who can not be traded because of the timing of his four-year pact with the Celtics.

Short of making a big splash, you can anticipate Ainge doing at least a minor deal that will give them either another asset or more cap flexibility.

While Ainge has the reputation of  being a "trader", he hasn't been as active as some might believe.

Since he joined the Celtics franchise as an executive in 2003, Ainge has had five seasons (2006, 2007, 2008, 2011 and 2012) when he failed to make at least one deal within a week of the trade deadline.

If a minor deal is out there to be made, do not be surprised if Jerryd Bayless and his $3.1 million expiring contract are moved for a player like Detroit's Will Bynum who makes about $2.79 million which is less than Bayless but has one year remaining on his current deal with the Pistons.

Ainge loves what Bayless can do, but the idea of getting further under the luxury tax is even more appealing than keeping him. You can't really fault Ainge for feeling that way when you consider the Celtics are most likely going to be among the bottom-10 teams in the league this year and yet the teams' payroll will stack among the league's top-10.

Of course the Celtics may look to re-energize talks involving Houston's Omer Asik, possibly including Humphries and his $12 million expiring contract as part of the deal. Boston would surely want a first-round pick in return, something the Rockets may not necessarily want to part with even if the player they're getting comes off the books this summer.

Atlanta's looking for more frontcourt help and may look to swing a deal for Brandon Bass or Jeff Green. But so far, the Hawks have shown a reluctance to part with draft picks, and it's unclear if that position will change.

There are countless other possible options for the Celtics to pursue -- some real while others are real phony.

"There are some things we'd like to do, but like I said, you can't do trades by yourself," Ainge said. "And if you can't find a partner or a deal that you like, then you're not doing anything. It's not that complicated, really."