What to make of the Boston Celtics’ silence at the NBA trade deadline

Boston Celtics (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
Boston Celtics (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images) /

All three of the Boston Celtics’ main rivals in the Eastern Conference improved at the NBA Trade Deadline while they stood pat.

The Raptors traded for Marc Gasol.

The Bucks got Nikola Mirotic.

The Sixers brought in Tobias Harris.

All three of the teams expected to challenge the Boston Celtics made trades before Thursday’s deadline that improved their rosters, while Danny Ainge was basically silent.

How dare he??!!

I know, right. The Celtics have SOME NERVE not making a trade that might improve their team in the short term. Ainge wasn’t allowed to trade for Anthony Davis Thursday, so he definitely should have given up potential pieces to include in a Davis package for somebody like Mirotic, right?

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The Celtics did everything right at the trade deadline, and it will all pay off once July 1st comes around.

Davis is still on the Pelicans, so the Celtics are officially on a level playing field with the rest of the league in trade discussions. Boston wasn’t going to trade anything that New Orleans could potentially covet, whether it be a player or a draft pick.

Oh, and since the Grizzlies are bound for a top-five pick and the Clippers are seemingly pulling themselves out of the Western Conference playoff race, the Celtics will save two first round picks for next year.

The Grizzlies pick will be top-6 protected next season while the Clippers pick will be lottery protected. Both should hold legitimate value when Davis trade discussions commence. If the Celtics had to use those picks, their value would depreciate substantially. Once a draft pick is used on a player, I’d compare the depreciation of that asset to buying a new game at GameStop and then trading it in for barely half of what you paid. Ainge having two future first rounders from other teams will put him at an advantage in a Davis trade, especially if New Orleans is focused on securing draft capital.

So why would they make a move when they are clear frontrunners for one of the best players in the world?

Ah yes, there’s still a season to be played, and the road to the NBA Finals got a lot bumpier today. Harris gives the Sixers a legitimate starting five to matchup with the Celtics while Gasol presents a presence in the front court Toronto had been missing. Mirotic was more of a depth move for the Bucks, but it’ll still make them a better team.

Here’s the thing though; the Celtics still have the most talent. When they’re playing at their best, which is something we’re starting to see a lot more lately, only one team in the league can realistically beat them.

So let’s take these trades for what they are. Did they make things harder on the Celtics? For sure. Does it matter if the Celtics are playing their best basketball? Nope.

Actions speak louder than words. Why do you think the Raptors and Sixers are pushing all of their proverbial chips towards the middle of the table? If they thought their teams had enough to get past Boston and then Golden State, they would have stayed quiet too. Did we expect these teams to stay content?

For the remainder of the regular season schedule, Boston can continue to focus on building their on-court chemistry and getting Gordon Hayward to progress as close to his All-Star form as possible. If he can turn back into the player we expected, it could count as a deadline trade to put the Celtics over the top.

The Sixers and Raptors will have to try to build chemistry on the fly, while we’ll see if the Bucks ever slow down. All of their pieces are working well together, but their issues will come during the playoffs (more on that in April).

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I get it. When the trades start flying in and your team’s rivals are getting better, it’s easy to get a case of FOMO and feel bummed when your team doesn’t do anything. But in this case, it’s going to be okay. Celtics fans haven’t experienced their team as the one being chased in almost 10 years, but it’s worth it in the end. Trust me.