The Celtics are surging, having won 9 of their last 10 games including an upset win over the Cleveland Cavs. As such, they are getting more respect in the various "power polls" around the web. These are purely for fun, but they do give a feel for where the team stacks up to the rest of the league - at least in the media's eyes.
There was one theme that I saw repeated a couple times, and I wanted to comment on it. It seems that some believe that the team's success might dissuade them from making a trade next week that could potentially upset the chemistry and continuity.
NBA Power Rankings: Last look before All-Star | SI.com
The Celtics have now won nine of 10 and vaulted into the upper echelon of the East standings, which now sort of puts them in a weird conundrum with the trade deadline nearing. This team was built for transactional flexibility, but in midst of its best run of the season, how much will the front office want to change things up?
NBA Power Rankings: Surging Celtics might be picking a bad time to get hot - NBA - CBSSports.com
The Celtics have won 12 of their last 15, with wins over the Bulls, Pistons and Cavaliers. This is the worst time for that kind of run because it's going to force the team to reconsider any shakeup trades that could make the overall team better....
This could affect the franchise's plan to be buyers, but then again, Danny Ainge might be a man with a firm plan. We'll find out soon.
It is an interesting concept. I do feel myself getting more reluctant to support a deal now that the team is really gellin' like a felon. The saying goes that you don't fix what ain't broke. Don't talk to a pitcher throwing a no-hitter, and so forth.
You could make a very compelling case that Danny Ainge threw a huge monkey wrench into the engine when he traded Kendrick Perkins for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic. In a vacuum, you could see what Ainge was trying to do. He wanted more offense and athleticism. Jeff Green ended up having several productive years while Perkins' productivity decreased steadily. But the initial fit with Green was awkward at best, and it seemed like an opportunity was missed.
On the other hand, that team was clearly in win-now mode. They had proven they had the core pieces to compete for another Championship.
The ultimate goal is still the same, but the timeline for this team might be a little different. Ainge has said all along that this team needs more talent to be a true Championship contender, and he's right. As presently constituted, most would agree that a 2nd round appearance would be a step in the right direction for this team, and a cup of coffee in the Eastern Conference Finals might be the ceiling.
So is that incremental improvement worth passing on a trade that could benefit the team now or in the long run? As always, it depends on the details.
If we're talking about giving up current rotation players for a marginal increase in talent, that move might not be worth it during the season. Some deals are better left for the offseason when all parties have a chance to adjust and adapt.
On the other hand, there are some deals that become available at the deadline, and if you don't act, the opportunity passes. If a true star became available and the Celtics thought he was a good fit, they should absolutely work on a deal for the right price. If anything, this recent run of team success is pumping up the trade value of many of our individual players. So there could be a sell-high opportunity in some cases.
Just to use a hypothetical, say Doc Rivers decided that the pieces didn't fit in Los Angles and he wanted to trade Blake Griffin for a few of our rotation players and draft picks. Obviously Danny and Doc have a good relationship, and they could work out something that was mutually beneficial. Of course, Griffin has a broken hand and could miss significant time. A deal like that could cost the Celtics serious ground in the standings this year but could (in theory) be a major step forward in the coming years. That's a trade-off worth making (again, depending on the price).
That's just one example and there's a lot of grey area between Blake Griffin and Jeff Green. There's no one rule that fits all situations, and it will be more art than science.
It would be a shame to shake up the good thing that this team has going. But we've been waiting a few years for opportunity to come knocking. If we hear it pounding on the door, it wouldn't do to hide under the table and hope for the best.