The NBA's 3 p.m. trade deadline came and went this afternoon without the Celtics making a deal. Yahoo! Sports reported around noon that contending teams were kicking the tires on shooting guard Ray Allen and that president of basketball operations Danny Ainge wanted both a young player and a draft pick for Allen. It appears Ainge's demands were not met.
Sports Illustrated reported that there was interest around the league in Paul Pierce, but again the Celtics did not pull the trigger on a deal.
So where do the Celtics go from here? The Celtics could still be in on New Orleans center Chris Kaman if he's bought out by the league-owned Hornets. Kaman would be a big boost to the Celtics front court, though he's not likely to turn them into instant contenders. If Kaman ends up in Boston, the Celtics will likely be more willing to buy out Jermaine O'Neal, who is reportedly trying to end up in Miami.
Essentially, though, the roster will stay the same. The Celtics didn't bolster their chances of winning a title at the deadline, but they kept offseason flexibility. A combined $31 million will come off the books when the contracts of Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett expire at season's end. That, apparently, was worth more to Ainge than what he could have gotten in a deal for either player.
The Celtics have two first-round picks in the NBA Draft in June. Garnett and Allen could return to the team on different contracts, but the core of the team appears to be Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, and rookie JaJuan Johnson. That's a big blank slate. Brandon Bass has a $4 million player option, and Jeff Green should be back. Ainge didn't improve the team at the deadline, but he didn't saddle them with more bad contracts, either.
The Celtics have been playing better since the All-Star break. They split two games in Los Angeles, almost winning both, and they played another stirring game in Oakland last night. They must now try to play themselves out of the bottom two seeds in the Eastern Conference to avoid Miami or Chicago in the first round of the playoffs.
Fans nostalgic about the Big Three will be glad to see the team make one more run before what could be a big offseason. With this team, any playoff victories would come as a bonus. On the other hand, fans looking to win now surely aren't satisfied with the team's lack of movement at the deadline.
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Below is a timeline of today's trade deadline updates that concerned the Celtics:
2:55 p.m. According to a tweet from Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix, "Interest in Paul Pierce picked up today but Boston's asking price (first round pick, expiring contract) too high."
2:42 p.m.: Even if the Celtics don't make a deal, "Miami, Boston, San Antonio will be aggressive suitors for Chris Kaman should he inevitably be bought out of Hornets deal," sources tell Yahoo!'s Wojnarowski.
March 23 is the deadline for players to be waived and eligible for the postseason. The NBA owns the Hornets, and they are under no obligation to buy out Kaman.
1:36 p.m.: The Lakers have acquired guard Ramon Sessions from Cleveland, according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst. Cleveland gets a first-round pick in the deal. The move seems to put an end to any speculation that Rajon Rondo could end up with the Lakers.
1:19 p.m.: Also from Wojnarowski, Jermaine O'Neal is seeking a buyout from the Celtics, and he has an interest in returning to the Miami Heat. The Celtics, meanwhile, would rather deal O'Neal's expiring contract than let O'Neal go.
12:03 p.m.: Several contending teams are chasing Ray Allen, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports tweeted earlier. The tweet:
Several contenders chasing Ray Allen. Some offering a good young player, some offering 1st round pick. If Celts get both, they may move him.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) March 15, 2012
Danny Ainge said earlier today that he wasn't seeking any trades, though he's also said that he would not turn down a chance to improve his team should a trade present itself. Allen has value to a contending team that might be a shooter away from a title.