Blakely: Celtics likely open to all trade talks

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Blakely: Celtics likely open to all trade talks

Glad to know the NBA rumor mill hasn't missed a beat now that we know we'll have a season.

Among the many word-on-the-street (or blogosphere) rumors being tossed around is one involving at least one Boston Celtic. Apparently the C's are open to the idea of trading Rajon Rondo.

Well, here's the thing. The C's have been open to trading Rondo for a couple years now.

For the right deal -- and I can't stress enough how difficult ''the right deal'' would be to come by for Rondo and his unique skillet -- the C's have been open to trading most of their players.

Speaking with a couple front-office officials who have made deals with Danny Ainge in the past, they said his position in terms of his Big 4 is no different now than it was a year ago.

"He's not pushing really hard to move any of his guys now," one official said. "But he's definitely interested in hearing what others think."

In other words, Ainge is doing his job.

So the idea that the C's are open to the idea of trading Rondo or Ray Allen or any of the six C's under contract, is the way things should be.

Boston has very limited options in terms of what it can do to significantly bolster its roster in this truncated 66-game season.

That's what happens when you have not one, not two, but four -- yes, four -- players under contract who will earn at least 10 million for this upcoming season. No NBA team has that many eight-figure players.

So that means the only way to significantly bolster the roster, has to involve moving one of those pieces. In other words, Boston has no shot at Tyson Chandler if the C's don't move, say, at least one member of the Big 4.

With Chris Paul and Dwight Howard hitting the free agent market in 2012, you know both of their teams (New Orleans and Orlando, respectively) are going to be looking hard for trade partners this year before losing them and getting nothing in return.

Boston's only shot of having a shot at either player, is to include at least one member of their Big 4 in a possible trade. But looking at what other teams could offer, that still won't be enough of an enticement.

So that would leave the C's little choice but to surround them with players they acquire on the cheap, with the hope that those players will out-perform their minimum wage or near-minimum wage contracts.

But the chances of that happening aren't promising.

Look at last summer's blockbuster deal that Shaquille O'Neal was coming to Boston. Getting him for the minimum seemed like a steal, right?

That's why for Ainge to do anything other than listen and solicit offers for his core guys, would be a disservice to head coach Doc Rivers, the Celtics ownership and Celtics fans.

Of the 400-plus NBA players, you can count the ones that you'll rarely, if at all, hear mentioned on the rumor mill as possibly being traded.

LeBron James. Kobe Bryant. Kevin Durant. And we're done.

While the C's have three future Hall of Famers on their roster and a blossoming all-star point guard, none of them -- right now at least -- are James, Bryant or Durant.

Another thing, folks. Sometimes people forget that Ainge is a GM, not a museum curator who collects antiques and outdated artifacts. (Although, with some of his recent signings, I could see the confusion.)

His job is to build a team, a title-contending team, using whatever resources are at his disposal. If that means trading away a core guy for a player or two who he believes can help them immediately or down the road, so be it.

That's what he's supposed to do, regardless of how well-connected a player is to a community, or how popular he is with fans.

So let the rumors continue to swirl about Rondo on the move, or Ray-Ray being shipped out. But remember one thing. The more you hear about that kind of stuff, it only means one thing and one thing only. Ainge is doing his job, which is to put out the best team possible that will give the C's another shot at Banner 18.

The '86 Celtics Interviews podcast (Ep.8): Dan Shaughnessy

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The '86 Celtics Interviews podcast (Ep.8): Dan Shaughnessy

Boston Globe columnist, and former Celtics beat writer, Dan Shaughnessy sits down with CSN for an extended discussion on "The '86 Celtics Interviews" podcast. Shaughnessy talks about the greatness of that team and the players' surprising reaction when they found out he was moving from the Celtics to the Red Sox beat.

Starter, bench or DNP: Zeller ready for any role with Celtics

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Starter, bench or DNP: Zeller ready for any role with Celtics

Every weekday until Sept. 7, we'll take a look at each player at the Celtics roster: Their strengths and their weaknesses, their ceiling and their floor. We continue today with Tyler Zeller. For a look at the other profiles, click here.

BOSTON – The NBA is a league full of highs and lows for players.

There are few who understand this as well as Tyler Zeller, a player who has gone from starting to being a backup to not playing at all – at times in the same week.

And through it all, you never heard him gripe about it publicly or privately to teammates.

It’s among the many reasons you constantly hear his teammates talk about how much they respect the way he has handled some extremely difficult situations.

This past season was especially tough for him considering he was heading into free agency and looking to do all he could to not just win, but showcase what he could do as player.

There were many nights when Zeller didn’t have that opportunity, but he understood.

The Celtics have been and will continue to be a team that’s about finding ways to win and on many nights coach Brad Stevens decided to go in a direction that didn’t include Zeller playing.

As the summer dragged on and the Celtics’ joined the handful of teams that came up short in landing Kevin Durant, Zeller’s return became more likely.

And Zeller’s patience was rewarded with a two-year, $16 million contract with the second year of the deal being a team option.

Now that he’s back in the fold, what’s next?

The ceiling for Zeller: Part-time starter

It may not happen on opening night and it may not happen in the first week, or even first month, of the season.

But at some point, Tyler Zeller will be in the Celtics’ starting lineup.

And when he’s there, he’ll do a lot of good things that he has proven he’s capable of doing.

When it comes to running the floor in transition, Zeller has distinguished himself as one of the Celtics best big men.

The Celtics are big on playing with space and pace and there are few 7-footers who can run the floor as well as Zeller.

In fact, his PACE (number of possessions per 48 minutes) last season was 101.93 which was tops among all Celtics frontcourt players and second overall to guard Marcus Smart (102.46).

It’ll get the Celtics a few easy buckets here and there, but it won’t score enough points with the coaching staff to keep a starting job, which would then relegate him back to being one of the team’s frontcourt reserves.

Still, Zeller is a luxury that few teams have: a player who won’t get (overly) bent out of shape even if his minutes resemble this.

The floor for Zeller: On the roster

Zeller has spent the bulk of his NBA career as a back-to-the-basket center, but showed more desire to score more from the perimeter last season, which is one of the reasons why he shot a career-low 47.6 percent from the field.

He’s trying to expand his game because of the direction that the NBA is going with big men who need to be able to score further away from the basket in addition to providing a presence around the rim.

While Zeller has decent mechanics on his perimeter shot, it’s clear that he’s not yet totally comfortable being a “stretch big.”

According to NBA.com/stats, Zeller shot 30.9 percent from the field last season on wide open shot attempts from at least 10 feet away.

With the addition of Al Horford and the return of Amir Johnson as well as Kelly Olynyk, Boston has a nice group of stretch centers they can put on the floor. And let’s not forget about Jonas Jerebko, who closed out the playoffs as a starter for Boston.

Minutes will once again be hard to come by for Zeller with any kind of consistency.

In fact, there’s a very good chance that he will have some games in which he doesn’t play (coaches decision) at all.

And depending on injuries, he may have to be inactive at times just to ensure Boston has depth on the perimeter.

Whether he’s starting, coming off the bench or not suited up at all, Zeller is an important part of this Celtics squad. Above all else, he provides depth, which continues to be one of the hallmarks for this franchise under Stevens.