By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- The NBA trade deadline isn't until March 25, but the trade winds are already starting to blow for the Boston Celtics. As they should be, with the team stuck in the mud at 12-10 on the season.
Danny Ainge recently said that the "sweet spot" to make trades is closer to the deadline, and he highlighted what he'll be looking for with the massive Traded Player Exception that he has in his back pocket. But that doesn't mean that Ainge won't pull the trigger on a deal if a worthwhile one presents itself well ahead of the deadline, and it appears that the Boston president of basketball ops. is out there looking to upgrade his squad.
In his latest NBA Power Rankings, The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor threw out this tidbit:
Late Saturday evening, I received a flurry of texts from multiple executives around the league who said the Celtics were up to something. What they're up to is unclear, but league sources have long said Boston is searching for upgrades to bolster its wing and big man position.
Players who signed during the offseason are now eligible to be dealt, and O'Connor mentioned Tristan Thompson and his $9.3 million salary as potential fit for a trade. Pretty much everyone on the roster is available to trade, minus the untouchable Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
While a Bradley Beal deal is the ultimate dream for Boston, chances are that will not be happening unless Ainge is willing to give up a package that includes Brown. So that isn't happening.
Bolstering wing depth has long been a focus of Ainge's, and the Celtics extremely thin in that department. We've heard a handful of names already being connected to the team, including Sacramento forward Harrison Barnes and Pelicans sharpshooter JJ Redick. But Ainge appeared to throw some cold water on the Redick rumors last week, saying that he was looking for a wing that can also play some defense.
The big man rumor is an interesting one, with Boston touting a pretty decent three-man rotation at center with Daniel Theis, Thompson and Robert Williams. Where the team could absolutely use an upgrade is at power forward, so a P.J. Tucker or Thaddeus Young trade -- as mentioned by O'Connor -- would be very welcome in Boston. That, however, would not be the big TPE splash that most fans are craving at the moment.
It should also be noted that the Celtics are always exploring trades, likely taking and making a few phone calls a day to see what's out there. We're probably going to hear a lot about Ainge exploring anything and everything over the next six weeks.
The Celtics continue to be a work in progress, a team that has juggled injuries throughout the season. Tatum, Brown, Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart have barely played together for a variety of reasons. Walker has struggled to contribute consistently since his return, and Thompson continues to find his way after joining the team during the offseason. These issues may work themselves out as the season progresses.
But if Boston continues its sluggish play, and its competition continues to get better, Ainge may be forced to make a deal sooner rather than later.
for more features.