The Boston Celtics were expected to be one of the most active participants during this season’s NBA trade deadline. Instead, they closed up shop on Thursday after completing just one minor deal along with a 10-day contract.
Calling this week a disappointment for the Celtics would be an understatement.
While many of the Boston faithful remain optimistic, the team’s chances of postseason success are realistically slim to none.
The Celtics are 28-26, have lost three of their last four games and are suffering from several season-ending injuries—including that of point guard Rajon Rondo and rookie Jared Sullinger. That does not even touch base on their depth, or lack there of, in the frontcourt.
The trade deadline was supposed to offer Boston relief.
In the weeks leading up to the deadline, rumors swirled about the possibility of bringing in Josh Smith, Tyreke Evans and Eric Bledsoe.
However, when the dust settled, none of the above were set to be introduced as the newest Celtic. In fact, not one of them even switched uniforms.
So goes the drama of deadline day.
But let’s take a look at the moves Boston did make.
1. Signed Terrence Williams to 10-day contract
Williams was officially introduced on Wednesday after the Celtics received his clearance letter from China. (via ESPN Boston’s Chris Forsberg)
The 11th overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, Williams bounced around during his first three years in the league.
He appeared in 130 career games, while playing for the New Jersey Nets, Houston Rockets and Sacramento Kings. Williams averaged 7.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game in 20.1 minutes a night.
Without a home in the NBA, he took his game overseas to China for the majority of this season.
In 29 games for the Guangdong Southern Tigers, Williams averaged 17.9 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists.
Breakdown: Adding a guard was a necessary move for Boston, having only three healthy guards on the roster.
Plus, Williams offers the promise of some offensive production at the position. Starting guards Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee have averaged a combined 16.6 points per game.
At 6’6”, Williams can also distribute the ball rather well and has proven to be a very solid rebounder.
He also comes as a low-risk acquisition, with the Celtics being able to cut Williams earlier if they need an additional roster spot.
While it’s not a move that screams “wow”, it is certainly a step in the right direction.
2. Traded Leandro Barbosa and Jason Collins to the Washington Wizards for Jordan Crawford
When the move was originally introduced Thursday afternoon (via the Boston Herald), the general thought was that it would serve as the appetizer for an entrée-sized blockbuster deal.
Instead, it ended up being the only action for Boston during deadline day.
While Williams has shown the potential to become a solid guard in the NBA, Crawford has already demonstrated that he belongs.
Through 52 games this season, Crawford is averaging 13.4 points, 3.1 assists and 2.7 rebounds over 26.2 minutes per game. He’s also shooting 41.5 percent from the field and 34.5 percent from beyond the arc.
But Crawford was at his best when starter John Wall was injured.
In 12 starts during that span, Crawford averaged 16.3 points, 5.8 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game. However, his shooting did not fare as well; he shot 35.4 percent from the field and just 29.2 percent from distance.
Crawford was the 27th pick in the 2010 NBA Draft (New Jersey Nets).
Breakdown: Exchanging the expiring contracts of both the sidelined Barbosa and the rarely-used Collins—10.3 minutes per game—in return for Crawford almost seems like a steal.
Crawford will be expected to not only fill the void left by Barbosa, but also to surpass it.
Head coach Doc Rivers believes the veteran presence around the Celtics locker room can help him get there (via ESPN Boston's Chris Forsberg):
Losing Barbosa, I kept saying it, that’s hurt us. We don’t have that wild card off the bench. And I’m hoping [Crawford] gives us that. I know about the other stuff, too. I’m hoping, obviously, that our staff and we have some veteran players around here, that he can grow.
There’s no doubt that Crawford will get his points. But it’s his defense that is worrisome.
At 6’4”, he is rather undersized for a shooting guard. Not to mention he rarely seems to give 100 percent on the defensive side of the ball.
It’s an attitude that will hardly fly on a Boston team that ranks top 10 in scoring defense.
On the positive side, Crawford is a low-cost addition. He only has one more season remaining on his rookie deal and is set to make a meager $2.2 million next season.
Expect Crawford to compliment Jason Terry nicely in the Celtics’ second unit.
Summing It All Up
These two moves would be a great start to a successful trade deadline. But standing along, I can’t help but come away with a bitter taste in my mouth.
How are these two young guards going to help take Boston from a likely first-round exit to the possibility of a deep postseason run?
Where was the addition of the big man that the Celtics so badly needed to help take some of the weight off of Kevin Garnett’s shoulders?
Why trade the only 7-footer that Boston had on the roster?
Does GM Danny Ainge really believe that this Celtics team can contend for the NBA title?
A deadline deal that was supposed to give us answers has only left us with these and so many more questions.
Boston now has two open roster spots and an even thinner frontcourt.
Let’s hope that free agency treats Ainge and the Celtics better.
Overall Grade: C-
Also check out: Post All-Star Break Predictions for Celtics