SALT LAKE CITY -- The Boston Celtics are playing their best basketball of the season, combining clutch play with continuity and chemistry on a level that we haven’t seen in Brad Stevens’ two-plus seasons on the job.
Their success certainly makes one wonder if it was a driving force behind Danny Ainge’s decision to stand pat at the trade deadline.
Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, said he gave serious thought to shaking up his roster a bit, and not necessarily for a high-impact, difference-making player, either.
Most of the moves Ainge makes have long-term implications. But the idea of maybe adding a player who could help get them a step further along in the postseason now, was not easy to discard.
“I would say that the success of our team this season might have made it more tempting to do something that wasn’t just strictly long-term thinking and maybe some short-term thinking to help us get better,” Ainge said.
Boston (32-23) begins its post All-star break portion of the schedule having won 10 of its last 12 games and currently resides in the No. 3 spot in the East.
The Celtics weren’t going to do a deal that would instantly leap-frog them past the Cleveland Cavaliers, but the potential to slide past Toronto, which has the second-best record in the East, is very real.
And while the Celtics had interest in players that went beyond Atlanta’s Al Horford, Cleveland’s Kevin Love and Los Angeles Clippers big man Blake Griffin, no deal materialized that made it worth their while.
“We had a lot of conversations in that regard, but there was just nothing we were willing to do,” Ainge said. “Because the team has played well, it would have been nice for the now and the playoffs run to upgrade our roster.”
But even with the Celtics standing pat, it’s pretty clear that they have a talented roster that’s only going to get better with time and should remain a force in the East throughout the remainder of this season and beyond.
“People around the league respect our team, respect our roster and we do, too,” Ainge said. “We have a lot of good solid young players. We have a lot of players on good contracts and the league knows that. So a lot of people tried to get those from us. At the end of the day, we’re in a better position not to have done any of the deals that were brought to our table.”