Well, the trade deadline came and went for Boston. No deals were made, and it appears as if Danny Ainge, Doc Rivers and the rest of the Boston front office have made the decision to move forward with this season. It may not be glamorous, but with the cards that were dealt to Danny Ainge and the calls it appears as if he made, the price was just too high for Boston to make any worthwhile deals. In all honesty, Doc has said he likes this team. Wilcox is out for the rest of the year, and Jermaine O'Neal's future remains uncertain, but there just didn't appear to be a viable option for the Celtics to add a big-man without taking on a pointless contract or dealing away a young player that the organization really wanted to keep. And so it stands. The Celtics will stay put with the Big Three (or Four), and make one final run.
It's not a bad thing, though. When it's all broken down it makes sense. According to ShamSports.com, the Celtics have a lot of money to work with this next season. This season the Celtics are paying $79,205,308 in salaries.
However, next season looks a lot cleaner for the Celtics' pocketbook. Kevin Garnett's $21,274,044 contract is up at the end of this season. Ray Allen is in the last year of his contract, too, and will earn $10,000,000 this season. It remains to be seen if Jermaine O'Neal will return or be bought out, but he is set to earn $6,226,200 this season. His contract expires at the end of the year as well.
This leaves the Celtics with a ton of options to work with for the 2012/2013 season. Next season won't be crammed together because of a lengthy lockout. There are plenty of "momentary solutions" that could keep Boston competitive next season and allow the Celtics to still keep enough cap space to make an impact during next season's trade deadline or beyond. Andrew Bynum's contract is expiring, but he has a team option worth 16 million. Consider the fact that the Lakers couldn't' land Dwight Howard, and I think it's a safe bet that the Lakers pick up Andrew's option. Deron Williams has a player option, and most signs indicate that he doesn't want to resign in New Jersey. Then again, if you ask me for my uneducated opinion I'd tell you that the stage is only setting up for a Dwight and Deron team-up in Dallas during the 2012/2013 offseason. The Decision: Remix!
Antawn Jamison has an expiring contract, as does Tim Duncan, Chris Kaman, Steve Nash, Jason Terry, Carl Landry, Michael Beasley, and O.J. Mayo just to name a few. Roy Hibbert is a restricted free agent (RFA), and the Celtics would certainly have enough money to extend an offer sheet to him if they chose to do so. Hey, even Ersan Ilysova is an unrestricted free agent next year. He's been playing well, too. Ryan Anderson is a RFA, and he's been putting up borderline All-Star numbers in Orlando. The list goes on and on. Those aren't the flashy names that Boston fans probably hoped to see. However, there are plenty of names (both mentioned and not mentioned) that would allow Boston to remain competitive for a while without having a huge core group of guys similar to the Big Three. Think Denver without the JaVale McGee randomness that took place today.
Still, the fact that Boston traveled through the trade deadline without making a major move shouldn't pain Celtics fans. This team knows what they have, they know what they are capable of, and they are perfectly fine with moving forward and playing out the rest of the season with this team. As it stands today, March 15th, the Celtics are only a half game back of the Hawks for the six seed in the East. The frontcourt is terribly thin, but let's think about it for a second. Greg Stiemsma has actually developed into a viable option at the center position. He's no longer solely a one-dimensional shot-blocker. He is rotating better on defense, he seems to be rebounding better, and on offense he doesn't look nearly as lost as he did earlier in the year. Ole' Greg even seems to have a bit of a "mean streak" about him since the Clippers game -- he's being a lot more aggressive on the court (at least from my vantage point).
The trade deadline didn't allow Boston to add a big-man. Danny Ainge couldn't package a deal to bring in any young, budding stars to set Boston up for the future. But with the team as it stands playing very well, jelling, and making things interesting in the Eastern Conference I don't see this as a terribly bad thing. The Celtics have options at the end of the year, and even though those options don't include a superstar like Dwight Howard they are still probably better than any trade acquisition the team could have made today. The silence at the trade deadline was deafening for Boston, but this time, at least, it was most likely golden.