Depleted Celtics could trade for small forward

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Depleted Celtics could trade for small forward

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

WALTHAM It's that time of year again.

The NBA trade deadline is just a couple weeks away (Feb. 24), and the Boston Celtics are looking around sort of.

Every year, Danny Ainge does his due diligence to pursue any deal that he believes will bring the C's closer to winning a championship.

And with all the injured Celtics, you would think he would be even more pro-active, right?

Not exactly.

"Right now, we're a little bit depleted," acknowledged Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations. "But we have three games to go before we have the (All-Star) break. We feel not too far after the All-Star break, we'll have most of our team back intact. So that's encouraging."

On Wednesday, injuries limited the Celtics to suiting up just 10 players for practice.

The roll call for injured Celtics includes: Marquis Daniels (spinal cord bruise); Semih Erden (right adductor strain); Jermaine O'Neal (left knee surgery); Shaquille O'Neal (right Achilles tendon) and Delonte West (right wrist).

All but Jermaine O'Neal are expected back before or shortly after the All-star break. The timetable for his return is late-March or early April.

While Ainge's intention may be to keep this core group together, there is a wild card of sorts in his plan: Marquis Daniels.

The Celtics are optimistic that Daniels will return to the floor in 1-2 months.

However, that timetable might be adjusted after the C's get more up-to-date results.

Because of that uncertainty, Boston may be forced to pursue trading for a backup small forward.

"The Marquis situation is still a little bit up in the air," Ainge said. "We'll probably know more in another week or so of what's going on there, what's going on in Marquis' mind, get some opinions of different doctors."

From there, Ainge will determine if the C's need to stay their current course and let players heal, or pursue a potential trade.

If Ainge decides a change has to be made, it doesn't necessarily have to come about via a trade.

There are a number of players who are currently seeing little to no playing time that might be in line for a buyout that might make them more attractive to the Celtics.

However, the Celtics would have to waive someone currently on the roster, in order to sign a player who has accepted a buyout elsewhere.

And while Ainge doesn't rule out any method that will improve the C's, the most likely course for the Celtics to take will be either to stand pat with the group they have, or pursue adding a player via trade.

But between now and the trading deadline, the Celtics will keep looking around sort of.

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Bradley locked in during return to Celtics lineup vs. Hornets

Bradley locked in during return to Celtics lineup vs. Hornets

BOSTON – When you look at Avery Bradley’s growth this season, seeing the tremendous strides he has made offensively is clear.

But at the heart of Bradley’s game remains a desire to dominate a matchup as a defender, something that was alive and well on Monday as he made his return to the floor after missing the four previous games with an Achilles strain.

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Bradley’s defense would prove instrumental in Boston’s 108-98 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Monday.

He was 2-for-9 from the field and played nearly 33 minutes against Hornets, which is just a couple minutes under his season average of court time.

Usually he’s responsible for providing a boost at both ends of the floor.

But considering his long lay-off, it was clear early on that he was locked in defensively more so than looking to get back on track shooting the ball.

“You take any type of games off in this league, your rhythm and all that you gotta get it back,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder.

Even though his shots weren’t falling, Bradley was on top of his game defensively while guarding 6-foot-8 Nicolas Batum who is six inches taller but never was a factor on Monday.

Batum finished with eight points on 2-for-11 shooting from the field.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens liked what he got out of Bradley in his return to action.

“I thought he (Bradley) was great,” Stevens told CSNNE.com. “He did everything we needed him to do. We knew there would be a little bit of rust (shooting the ball), but that’s part of you playing your way back into it.”

As far as Bradley’s stifling defense on Batum, Stevens said, “You have to do that against Batum. I thought Avery did a really good job of that. It’s a hard matchup no matter what way you go. Batum, giving up inches to him. He (Bradley) was there on the catch all night.”

And as Bradley gradually gets back into a flow, he’ll regain the form offensively that made him one of the NBA’s better two-way players this season.