Blakely: Celtics likely open to all trade talks


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.

Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf

Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics will be a bit shorthanded for the first few games of the season with Marcus Smart being out with a left ankle sprain injury.
The Celtics were holding out slim hope that it would heal in time for tomorrow’s game against the Brooklyn Nets.
Smart confirmed a report shortly after the injury on October 19 that it would likely be at least a couple weeks before he returned to action.
Following Tuesday’s practice, one in which Smart watched from the sidelines, he gave an update on his ankle injury which occurred in the Celtics’ last preseason game, a 121-96 loss to the New York Knicks.
“A couple weeks, that’s the projection (of a return) they gave me,” Smart said. “They want to make sure we can limit this from happening again.”
Smart said the two-week timetable began from the time of his injury, which means it’s likely that he will miss the Celtics’ first four games of the season.
That’s a much rosier timetable than the left ankle sprain injury Smart suffered as a rookie which kept him sidelined for several weeks afterwards.
“It shouldn’t be too long,” Smart said. “Better safe than sorry.”
His absence will certainly have an impact on a Celtics defense that ranked among the NBA’s best a year ago, and has only gotten stronger with the addition of Al Horford.
But the Celtics have been a "next man up" team for since Stevens has been the head coach. With Smart out, that’s not going to change.
“That’ll be a great opportunity for someone else to step up in his place,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.
Boston guard Isaiah Thomas echoed similar thoughts.
“When somebody’s hurt, the next man has to step up,” Thomas said. “Guys have to take advantage of these opportunities.”
And for Smart, it’ll mean displaying his leadership skills from the sideline.
He’s totally comfortable taking on that role right now.
For his teammates, it might take a little bit of getting used to. Smart has been very loquacious on the Celtics sideline since suffering the injury.
“These last four days, he has been yelling … I told him to shut up a few times,” quipped Isaiah Thomas. “That’s just him, especially when he’s not playing. He’s very vocal.”
Terry Rozier, the likely benefactor in terms of minutes played due to Smart’s injury, agreed.
“He’s been sitting right there in that seat,” said Rozier, adding, “and he hasn’t shut up yet. It’s good; you’re going to need a guy like that who is going to talk to you. It’s like a guy, he says things … it’s like he’s been in the league 10 years. He knows his stuff.”
Smart’s knowledge bank includes understanding that his current injury will probably happen again at some point. The key isn’t dealing with the injury, but how you move forward from it.
“This isn’t my first ankle sprain and I know it won’t be my last,” Smart said. “I just have to let it heal on its own and let your body do what it does.”