The worst-kept secret in the NBA is the Celtics’ desire to land a superstar player. Be it through the draft, free agency, or trade, Boston is looking for that next-level guy.
Danny Ainge has maintained the cap flexibility to sign a max free agent this summer. However, the list of top-level names that might feasibly change places is short (and could get shorter if CBA rules further discourage movement).
The draft is always an option, but it requires time and patience. The Celtics are starting to run out of both with several favorable contracts set to expire or be up for renegotiation in a year or two. Adding veteran Al Horford also signaled a more aggressive timeline. In addition, the Nets are surprisingly spry early on this season and might have more competition at the top end of the lottery than many experts were expecting.
So it feels like the stage is being set for the Celtics to acquire a star player via trade.
via Chris Forsberg
One team's GM heard enough whispers during the first week of the season that he started asking around to see if there was any truth to the buzz. There wasn't but, again, everyone simply suspects Ainge and his staff are up to something.
Informed that rivals were wondering whether a big deal was in the offing, one member of Boston's front office downplayed the chatter but noted that he certainly hoped a big deal would materialize soon.
Don't read too much into that. The insinuation was simply this: The Celtics believe their best trade is their next trade.
Of course they’ve been hinting at such a move for the last couple of years. They were able to land Al Horford via free agency, but they missed out on landing Kevin Durant or trading for Jimmy Butler (on draft night). Will the other shoe drop soon? Or is this just another year of waiting for the next move?
As always, the trick is finding the right dancing partner. The Celtics had their eyes on Kevin Garnett years before the Wolves were willing to move him in a trade. Every team is looking for a star, and nobody is going to give one up without demanding a king’s ransom in return.
With that said, the league is littered with “stranded” star players toiling on franchises that seem incapable of building capable supporting casts around them. The Pelicans, Kings, and Wizards all come to mind. There are also teams that have had success before but may be looking for a reboot. The Bulls, Pacers, and maybe the Thunder are teams to keep an eye on here.
None of those teams is going to admit to actively shopping their star (well, maybe the Kings will). But all it takes is for one of those clubs to quietly decide that they would rather hit the reset button and take a pile of Boston’s assets as a foundation for the future.
I would argue that Danny Ainge has “won” so many trades that he can even afford to “overpay” for one of these stars. That is, two near-All-Stars might be worth one All-Star simply because there’s such a shortage of true stars to go around.
I know, I know, you’ve seen this movie before. For every move that Danny Ainge has made, he’s been involved in about 50 other rumors. Sometimes it seems like there’s so much smoke that there has to be a fire somewhere, yet nothing happens. Other times something happens completely out of nowhere.
It feels like there’s going to be plenty of smoke this year. I’m gearing up for a busy trade season (roughly mid-December through the deadline in February). Will there be enough of a spark to help the Celtics set off some more fireworks?
We’ll explore all those rumors here on CelticsBlog. It’s never too early for trade talk, so in the coming weeks I’ll even highlight a few names to consider and discuss what potential price tags they might require. Feel free to play along in the comments or write your own blog posts using the FanPosts section.
Which players would you like to see the Celtics focus their attention on? Who do you think is a realistic target? Or would you prefer to stay the course and take our chances next summer? Weigh in and let us know your thoughts.