There’s one in every ice shack – the guy that’s there just to drink and doesn’t really care if he catches a fish or not…
At the trading deadline, the Boston Celtics were that guy.
They reluctantly went along on the fishing trip, and didn’t even bother bringing any bait because it was too expensive, but ultimately slid a piece of a ham sandwich on the hook and caught a little one, but not too small to have to throw it back…
The Celtics were attached to as many as a half dozen trade rumors in the days leading up to Thursday’s NBA trade deadline, but none of them materialized. It was speculated that the Celtics were looking for a point guard/ball handler to partially make up for the loss of Rajon Rondo as well as some beef to park under the rim to make up for a lack of bulk.
They were kind of fishing, dangling names like Rondo, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in front of GM’s whose teams had such things to spare, but in the end the Celtics simply had priced themselves out of any deals by attaching price tags to the players that not even the government would pay.
So what all the hub-bub was about was the Celtics were just mentioning that they were looking for a few warm bodies to fill roster spots vacated by injured players and would entertain all offers – even offers that would include giving up one of their long-tenured core players if the price was right…
…but the asking price was too steep. An example was when the Brooklyn Nets came calling, offering two players and a first round draft pick for Paul Pierce, but Celtics’ management waved it off immediately as being woefully insufficient compensation for the face of their franchise – thus setting a bar that no one was willing to approach.
So here we are in Phoenix, minus Jason Collins and Leandro Barbosa’s contract, both of whom were sent to Washington DC in exchange for a Jordan Crawford that can be an electric scorer, but had worn out his welcome with the Wizards’ and joins newly signed Terrence Williams as the new fish.
Because public perception dictates that only some team pulling a Mike Ditka – essentially sending their entire draft and then some – would have made the nut with Celtics’ fans, even though Danny Ainge knew in his heart that what the Nets were offering for Pierce was nearly that, and don’t think for a second he didn’t hesitate for a split-second before saying no.
Pierce has had the most inconsistent season of his career offensively, though he has his moments like in the 1st half of the loss to the Lakers on Wednesday night – but what has never wavered is his defense, his ball handling, the intangibles and the hustle.
Stack all of that on top of his leadership and you begin to realize why Ainge was that guy at the trading deadline – the guy who just went along for the ride and the beer and the fishing trip with the boys, not bothering to bring any bait along, because he knew he’d never use it.