The No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference just lost its star player in Victor Oladipo. The Boston Celtics have won five in a row.
Time to strike while the iron is hot, right? The Celtics should swing a blockbuster trade ahead of the Feb. 7 deadline and go all-in on an NBA title ... right?
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Not so fast.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge isn't likely to make a notable move in the coming two weeks, NBC Sports' Tom Haberstroh reported Friday in his column on the impact of Oladipo's injury.
With Oladipo sidelined and the Pacers likely to slide back to the middle of the pack, the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics could be less thirsty for a blockbuster move at the deadline. Why give up assets if you can move up organically?
The Celtics could float Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown on the trade market, but league sources tell NBCSports.com they are likely to sit tight and hope both bounce back to last season’s levels. With the chances of a midseason Anthony Davis trade lessening by the day, the Celtics have good reason to hold pat.
Rozier and Brown are logical trade candidates, as both have felt the squeeze of Boston's roster logjam this season. Brown is playing nearly five fewer minutes per game than he did last season and 7.5 percent worse from 3-point range, while Rozier is back to averaging single digits in points (8.7 per game) in a backup role to Kyrie Irving.
But if the Indiana Pacers falter without Oladipo, the door will be open for the No. 5 seed Celtics to at least earn home court in the first round with a top-four seed. And Ainge may prefer to keep Rozier and Brown as potential trade pieces for Davis this offseason.
Boston could make a minor trade or explore the buyout market to tweak its roster slightly for the home stretch. Don't expect fireworks before Feb. 7, though.
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