During a weekly appearance with 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show, Ainge suggested he will look for trades in which the Celtics send out more players than they receive.
“Consolidating quantity for quality right now is sort of something that we’re looking to do,” he said. “But we like all of our players. We don’t have to do anything by the trade deadline. But we’re certainly busy trying to find something to upgrade our team.”
After a really disheartening loss to the Pistons, the guys grumbled about not having set rotations. I get where they’re coming from in a sense because I know how athletes really are creatures of habit. They have routines and they like to stick to them. Further, it’s great to know when you’re going to be in a game because you can mentally prepare for the moment… and you also develop a chemistry with the guys who are out there. Players have different tendencies, and if, for example, you’re part of “the bench mob,” you can play off your bench teammates and develop a good timing off of one another.
We know the challenge Brad Stevens is facing. When a team has a roster that goes 11 or 12 deep, it’s hard to find the minutes for all of the guys to stay sharp and develop all that chemistry I just mentioned. How does he pick between RJ Hunter and James Young when both are really not all that far from each other developmentally… and both have had their share of nagging injuries?
Now that 2016 is here, though, we’re starting to see some movement on this roster situation. David Lee has been told he’s out of the rotation… paring down the big-man rotation at least a little bit. It’s almost as if the 2015 portion of the schedule was a fact-finding mission and now, post-Christmas, the Celtics are starting to apply some of the findings to the team.
Enter Danny Ainge, who, if taken at face value, isn’t in hurry to make a deal but would like to if one materializes. He’s done the “gathering assets” bit and we’ve seen a bunch of these guy show enough value where they might be worth taking in a trade. Now it’s time to start executing the 2 or 3-for-1 deals to start consolidating the roster and moving to much more manageable 8 or 9 man rotation.
And while Ainge might not be in a “rush” per se, he’s got to be looking at recent results and the ensuing grumbling and thinking deals should be made sooner rather than later. Ainge will never be pressured into making a deal, though, and the Keith Bogans saga showed he’ll take other drastic options to keep the locker room clear of any bad influences while he does his job.
As frustrating as this recent stretch can be, it’s a reminder of the fragile state of this process and how dependent the team really is on Isaiah Thomas. And as great as he’s been, I’m afraid the increased work load is starting to take a toll. He’s playing 6 more minutes per game (32.6) and is up over the 30 minute per game mark for only the second time in his career. His true shooting percentage is at a career-low 54.3% and his free throw rate is at its lowest point in 5 seasons.
The Celtics need him to do a LOT, and he’s not getting much help. If anything is going to put pressure on Ainge to make a move, it’s the preservation of Isaiah Thomas, and not the frustrating griping of a pissed off locker room. Now that we’re into January, we’re going to hear the trade rumors start to heat up.
Page 2: Family comes first
Amid all the gloom about Boston’s recent play, the absence of coach Brad Stevens provided some perspective. Stevens left the Celtics on Thursday morning to travel to his native Indiana to visit with former Butler center Andrew Smith, whom the Indianapolis Star reported was hospitalized again during his battle with cancer.
Smith’s father, Curt, appeared to reference Stevens’ visit on Twitter on Thursday when he wrote, “Coach — thanks for visiting Andrew and the family today. Means the world to the big guy, [Smith’s wife] Sam, and us all. Truly a blessing.”
The move by Stevens is entirely within his personality.
“He makes it very clear to our players on a day-to-day basis,” said Larranaga, “that family is the most important, that the things they’re able to do away from the court — I think our players do a great job of giving back to the community, and the impact that they’re able to have in those areas — are so much more important than what happens on the court. So it’s just another example of the person he is.”
As for Stevens choosing to miss the game instead of leaving for Indiana afterward, Evan Turner said, “That’s great, man. That’s unreal. I think that speaks volumes in general.
First and foremost, our thoughts go out to the Smith family, and we’re hoping there’s a miracle recovery that takes place.
Perspective is important in life. Keeping what’s truly important at the forefront is imperative. A lot of coaches might not have taken the day to do what Brad Stevens did. That’s their choice. Brad Stevens made his choice because he practices what he preaches.
This is an important lesson for his players and for all of us to learn. No matter how crazy things get or how focused or dedicated you feel you need to be, don’t lose sight of the truly important things in life. You will regret it if you do.
The rest of the links
Mass Live – Thomas: Blame me for loss to Chicago | Globe – Absent coach, Celtics stumble in Chicago | Herald – Celtics loss looks awfully familiar | Ainge understands frustrations | WEEI – Studs and Duds from loss to Bulls | CSNNE – Cs can’t get Larranaga first win