The Celtics didn’t just fail to add a superstar at the deadline. They also failed to upgrade the team in any way. While star trades are hard to pull off, I believe many fans were frustrated by the team’s inactivity on a smaller scale. While the Raptors were able to add Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker for relatively low returns, the Celtics stood pat and did not address any team needs.
Ainge defended his inaction, pointing to the fact that adding a good rebounder who hurt your team in other ways didn’t make sense. He was also motivated to preserve future assets and/or cap flexibility that were not worth sacrificing for “band-aid” solutions. Perhaps another reason to hold off was the potential for a free agent pickup off the buyout market.
Every year after the trade deadline, players are waived or bought out. Sometimes the teams need to free up roster spots for new players coming in. Sometimes they just want to give older players on non-contenders a chance to chase postseason glory.
So who are some options for the Celtics? Here are a few.
When healthy, Bogut seems to be the ideal fit for the Celtics. He’s got the size to play center, represents an upgrade (in theory) over Amir Johnson in rebounding and interior defense, and he has Championship experience. But of course guys like that aren’t easy to get.
According to Shams Charania of The Vertical reported that the Celtics are one of the teams that have reached out to Bogut. (via MassLive)
Charania reported Saturday night that the Cleveland Cavaliers, San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz have also held conversations with Bogut's camp. The big man is in buyout talks with the Philadelphia 76ers after the team acquired him Thursday by trade.
As an elite defender and one of the NBA's best defensive rebounders, Bogut qualifies as one of the few buyout candidates who would represent an obvious fit for the Celtics.
Two Mavs sources say they expect Andrew Bogut will choose to join the Cavaliers once he receives a buyout from the 76ers.— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) February 26, 2017
Young, talented guys like Jones don’t often hit the buyout market. But when the Pelicans unexpectedly acquired DeMarcus Cousins, Jones was going to be buried on the bench behind two all stars. His agent asked for him to be released and his agent happens to represent Cousins, so it makes sense that the Pelicans complied.
The 6-foot-9 power forward is not much of a shooter, but his defensive rebounding rate (20 percent) would be the best mark on the Celtics right now. His athleticism also makes him a versatile defender, and he has a strong track record in the postseason from his stint with the Houston Rockets two years ago. He’s certainly an upgrade over C’s reserve power forward Jordan Mickey and should be a target over the next week.
I find it hard to believe that the Celtics would actually bring Sully back to Boston. For starters, the team elected to let him walk this summer in favor for seldom used center Tyler Zeller. To add him to the roster would require waiving someone that they wanted more just a few months ago. Then again, they might not have anticipated rebounding to be such a glaring issue this year. If there’s one thing the big fella can do, it is rebound the rock. He would also have familiarity with Brad Stevens’ system.
Still, I think that ship has sailed and I’d be a bit surprised to see him back in Boston.
Stand Pat (again)
The Celtics (still) don’t have to add anyone. If they miss out on their top targets, they won’t want to make a move simply for the sake of “doing something.” If anything, as Danny Ainge pointed out, there are legit negative side effects of bringing in someone this late in the season. You disrupt team chemistry, take opportunities away from other players, and you’ll have to sacrifice one player from the roster.
"We have such a good chemistry with this team. We’ve had everybody contributing to winning," Ainge said. "We’ve had James Young playing the most fourth-quarter minutes [of his career] in the last four games we won on the road. We’ve had Jordan Mickey start in a win, and we’ve had [rookie] Jaylen Brown go 9-1 as a starter [during a stretch before the All-Star break]. There's so many good things and so many good vibes with these guys. Sometimes you bring in a player, and the players react like, 'Man, that’s not fair. That kid's been working hard. That kid’s earned his chance to play.' I think it goes both ways. Names on paper and past performances don’t always make for, like, a perfect fit with the team that they’re coming to, especially if they don’t fit our style."
So what will Danny Ainge do? That might depend on what other offers the guys high on this list get elsewhere. What are you hoping happens?