Draft picks, draft picks, draft picks, that's what Danny Ainge wants right now.
Basically, if you aren't a young player with upside, then you aren't in the long term plans. The Celtics still have a few hold-over veterans (Brandon Bass, Gerald Wallace, Jameer Nelson, Marcus Thornton) and just picked up another in Tayshaun Prince. Every one them is available for next to nothing.
Then, according to league sources, the Celts found a limited market for both Rondo and Green, and Brandon Bass, despite some interest from other clubs and the fact he has become a very solid performer, has yet to attract any serious offers.
Veterans can be useful. Bass and Thornton both played productive minutes in an encouraging win last night. Gerald Wallace has morphed into a player-coach of sorts. The young guys have to learn good habits and it is good for them to hear lessons from someone other than the coaches.
With that said, veterans get unhappy if they still have gas left in the tank and see their peers competing for the playoffs while they waste whole seasons at a time waiting for their contract to free them up. Some would like to speed up that process and it sounds like the Celtics would be willing to listen.
Sources: Boston Celtics have discussed buying out Marcus Thornton, Jameer Nelson and Tayshaun Prince. No definitive decision has been made.— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) January 13, 2015
I think Danny Ainge will at the very least check the market for these guys before making any buy-out decisions. Even more likely is that he'll convince them to hang on for the next month as Danny works the phones on trades. He doesn't have a lot of attractive assets left in and of themselves, but he can play the facilitator role.
Consider how many times other teams need to bring in a 3rd team in order to make deals work financially. The Celtics have lots of expiring contracts that would be useful rentals for any contender. Or they could be included in a larger deal where another cost-cutting team waives them after the deadline (netting the Celtics another draft asset for their part in the deal).
Regardless of his plans, Ainge has already opened up communication with each of the veterans.
"I've talked with all the guys," Ainge said. "I think everybody is pretty certain what their situation is."
Then, perhaps a little daffy from all the time spent with a cellphone pinned to his skull, or just being his goofy self, Ainge added, "I mean, as certain as they can be. As certain as I am - which is somewhat uncertain."
So I guess we'll have to wait and see.
If anyone wants to take any of these guys off Danny's hand, they are likely going to find him very much open to discussion. Perhaps some of them will come to buy-out terms. But I think the most likely thing is that Ainge will wait till closer to the trade deadline to finally set these veterans free - one way or another.