The Boston Celtics are walking the finest line a near-.500 team can toe this close to the trade deadline.
With Rajon Rondo out for the year, rumors of trades involving Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett being shot down at every turn (per ESPN) and Jared Sullinger undergoing back surgery, it seems only a matter of time before something big happens in Boston.
And yet the Celtics keep winning.
After dropping six straight from January 16 to January 25, Boston has ripped off four wins in a row, including two tight games against the Heat and the Clippers. Rondo and Sullinger are lost for the year, yet Boston seems to have found a spark.
Their schedule in February gets a little tougher, and the next couple weeks could very well decide the fate of the Celtics’ season. If Boston can’t continue to play its best basketball and slowly rise in the standings, all those trade rumors could begin to swirl again.
If a deal is to happen, the first piece to fall will likely be the one Boston fans least want to see go. As quoted by Kurt Helin of NBC Sports, GM Danny Ainge is open to listening to offers for Pierce:
Nothing is close to being done. I too, would like to see Paul Pierce retire as a Celtic. That would be great. We are all attached to Paul. He’s been great for the city, the franchise, each of us individually, he’s been a true pro. Having said that, if something came up I would talk to Paul, but my job is do what’s best for the Boston fans, and what’s best for the Boston Celtic team, regardless of my personal ties and personal relationships with players.
To further the speculation that Pierce could be the first domino to tumble in a series of Celtics’ moves, Shaun Powell of SportonEarth.com had this to say on Twitter:
None of the rumors of potential trades involving Pierce or Garnett are surprising given the fact that, even at the backend of their careers, both players are still difference-makers. For Boston to move either player, the playoffs would have to be out of the picture.
Which brings us to the latest rumor of Boston's trade-market activity.
According to Ken Berger of CBS Sports, teams around the league are not inquiring about Pierce or Garnett, but Jason Terry:
It’s understandable that teams would be interested in Terry. He’s been one of the best sixth men in the league for much of his career, and having a poor season in Boston, NBA executives may see this as the best opportunity to add some depth without giving up too much.
While interest for Terry may be peaking, there’s no reason to trade him away right now, at least not before any other deals are made. The Celtics are keeping their heads above water, and with Pierce and Garnett not likely to be dealt any time soon, it doesn’t make sense to sell the tires but keep the car.
The only way Boston should be willing to trade Terry would be as part of a bigger deal, and that shouldn’t even come up as long as the Celtics are winning.
More than two weeks remain before the February 21 deadline, and those two weeks will be the most telling indication of where Boston is at this year. If the Celtics fall off and begin sinking before the deadline, Ainge may then decide to abandon ship. Until that time, Terry, Garnett and Pierce should all remain in Boston in an effort to make the playoffs again this year.