BOSTON — We are about 24 hours away from the NBA trade deadline, which is about when deals start to get done after having been internet speculation for months.
We’ve already had a four-team blockbuster agreed upon involving Atlanta, Denver, Houston and Minnesota, with more deals likely on the horizon.
And while the potential for a major shake-up is always present in Boston, there’s a level of calm surrounding the Celtics that we haven’t seen in the lead-up to the trade deadline in recent years.
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens told reporters earlier Wednesday that if the Celtics did anything at the trade deadline, it would likely be a very minor deal.
It’s unclear if that sentiment has trickled down to the players, who have been playing with the kind of care-free, get-it-done approach that has catapulted Boston into the No. 3 spot in the East.
“We’re really just focused on the task at hand, and that’s the game tonight,” Boston’s Marcus Smart told NBC Sports Boston.
Smart, who will miss tonight’s game due to a right quad injury, chalks it up as one of the many lessons he and the team’s veterans learned from last year’s trade deadline, a teaching moment of sorts they have passed along to the younger Celtics.
“In the recent past, a lot of guys … were probably focused on things they probably shouldn’t have been focused on (near the trade deadline),” Smart said. “If you’re focus is on that, then your focus isn’t on what it should be on — which is to play basketball and win games.”
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has made no secret about his trade deadline wish: for his team to be healthier than it has been so far this season.
Several players have been in and out of the lineup, making it more challenging for Ainge and the Celtics to accurately determine what areas they need to bolster before the trade deadline.
This has been especially true at center, a position that was believed to be an area of weakness for Boston at the start of the season.
But the 1-2 center punch of Daniel Theis and Enes Kanter has been strong for Boston, providing the kind of inside scoring/rebounding/defense that has allowed Boston to be among the top teams in the Eastern Conference most of this season.
“They’re holding their own with all the centers in the league,” Ainge told NBC Sports Boston. “I feel good about our center position.”
However, don’t for a minute think that Ainge has given up on the search for an upgrade at the big man position.
The Celtics were among the teams reportedly in the running for Clint Capela, who was part of the aforementioned four-team trade that will send him to Atlanta.
If the Celtics fail to strike a deal for another mobile center, they may set their sights on trying to attract another guard with a bit more of a scoring mentality who could provide some much-needed offensive punch off the bench.
Two league sources told NBC Sports Boston this afternoon that the Celtics are more likely to add a player from the buyout market than they are to trade for one.
“Those guys, you can tell have great chemistry,” a league executive told NBC Sports Boston. “Danny saw last year what happens when the chemistry isn’t great. He’s not about to put this team and his coach (Brad Stevens) through that again if he can help it.”
And while there’s a strong sense that Ainge wants to keep this core group together, Smart has been around the league long enough to know that things can change quickly when it comes to the trade deadline.
“We’ll see; we’ll see,” Smart said. “Like I said, all we can do is control what we can control and that’s go out, play the game and hopefully win. That’s the only thing we should be thinking about, really.”