Now that the 2013 trade deadline has passed with the Celtics choosing to do a little as opposed to a lot, it's time to exhale.
Whether you wanted Danny Ainge to "blow it up" or keep the future Hall of Fame duo of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce together for at least one more playoff run, the bottom line is that this team this year will sink or swim with what it's got along with Jordan Crawford and his crummy attitude and a possible buyout candidate/free agent.
And you know what? This was the way to go. I'm of the belief that the Celts, who will not win a championship this season whether they'd traded Garnett and Pierce or not, need to move on from the incredible, exhilarating Big Three era and try to do what they've done once before. They need to rebuild without bottoming out, if at all possible.
Embarking on a task like that will be much much easier in the summer than it ever could have been in season. Chemistry issues are more easily addressed. Worries about affecting current playing rotations, patterns or winning streaks aren't applicable.
There's just more clarity in the off-season. There's more time to gain or enhance perspective. It's much easier to start from square one than to veer right off of whatever path your organization is on in the middle of February. You're looking at everything with a fresher set of eyes and a clearer sense of where the starting point is for the upcoming year.
Unless they involve players with big, expiring contract that their current teams don't plan on re-signing, big time, big name, franchise altering deals don't happen very much at the deadline (which is one reason of many why the Atlanta Hawks totally blew it by not dealing Josh Smith, for example). And when they do, they aren't remotely guaranteed to work.
When the Celts unloaded Kendrick Perkins this time two years ago for fears that they wouldn't extend him when his contract was up at the end of the season, they went from being a clear cut contender with one of the three best records in the league to a middle of the pack team in the East, easily dispatched in the conference semis by a Heat yet to even figure out how to win. That was not a deal of the magnitude trading Garnett or Pierce for cents on the dollar would have been, but it was still a major trade that completely altered the direction in which the team had been headed for over three years and it blew up in their faces.
Had the Celts not traded Perk for Jeff Green back then, they may well have lost him for nothing when that summer rolled around. But they also would have more than likely made another spirited playoff run, would have been far better equipped to handle a Miami team still searching for itself and, perhaps most of all, would have avoided all the turmoil that came with moving a big part of their team in the middle of the year.
Players, coaches and even execs like Ainge are tired at this point of the season. They are banged up, all of them. They've been going as hard as they can for five months (including training camp) and are just starting to be able really see what the chances are for them to achieve what they set out to do when the season started. There's a reason this time of the year is known as the dog days of the NBA schedule. Everyone is huffing and puffing at this point. Even the guys who make the trades.
In June, as the draft is getting ready to roll around once more, Ainge will have a far better gauge on whether Garnett is going to retire or keep playing and whether Pierce is going to hang it up or try to earn his option. He'll know how Rajon Rondo's rehab is progressing and exactly where Jared Sullinger is at regarding his. And there's bound to be a better deal at his disposal than any of the ones he didn't consummate on Thursday should he choose to take that route.
He'll have a much clearer picture of where the team is at from all angles than he had on Thursday afternoon leading up to the 3 p.m. deadline. And he'll be in a far better position to act accordingly as a result.
The Celtics would not have gotten appreciably better had they made a big move at this year's deadline. And they're not going to be appreciably better having not done so either.
But they would have been appreciably worse. By waiting until the summer to sort out all of the biggest issues facing this team, Ainge vastly widened his chances to avoid such an outcome.