Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Ainge, A. Rivers, Raptors

After falling two games below .500 last Wednesday, the Celtics have turned things around in the last week. Boston won its third straight game on Tuesday night, as an impressive victory over the Clippers put the team back over .500 and into the No. 4 seed in the East.

Still, an 18-17 record represents an underwhelming first half for a team that was widely viewed as one of the top threats to come out of the East entering the season. In his attempt to determine what’s gone wrong with the Celtics, Tim Bontemps of ESPN spoke to executives who pointed to Kemba Walker‘s slow start as one factor the club has struggled to overcome.

“He can still provide value,” one Western Conference executive said of the Celtics’ point guard. “But is he worth $35 million? Is he worth that number? That’s tough (to build around) if he isn’t.”

The general consensus among Bontemps’ sources is that the Celtics will need to make some sort of trade before the deadline if they want to have a legit chance to make a deep playoff run this spring. President of basketball operations Danny Ainge has been reluctant to make in-season trades in the past, with one Western executive suggesting the C’s will only make a move “if they think they’re going to bury you.” However, given how well Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have played, the time looks right for Boston to try to upgrade its roster and get its rising young stars some help.

“There comes a time where you have to do something to keep your stars placated and show that you’re trying, especially when they’re young and early in their primes,” one East executive told Bontemps. “You have to make that commitment to them.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • With Ainge facing some criticism for the Celtics‘ up-and-down season and the team’s lack of depth, Zach Kram of The Ringer takes a closer look at the veteran executive’s résumé to determine whether or not the bad moves have outweighed the good ones over the last decade.
  • Even without Derrick Rose and Elfrid Payton available on Tuesday, veteran guard Austin Rivers couldn’t crack the Knicks‘ rotation, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. After not being on New York’s bench at all on Saturday, Rivers has been there for the team’s last two contests, but he hasn’t actually gotten onto the court since he played a couple garbage-time minutes on February 13. He’s a candidate to be moved at the trade deadline.
  • While the Raptors‘ greatest need may be at center, the team could very well explore the market for wings and/or forwards this month as well. With that in mind, Blake Murphy of The Athletic considers some possible targets for Toronto, including Thaddeus Young, P.J. Tucker, and James Ennis.
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19 thoughts on “Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Ainge, A. Rivers, Raptors

    • x%sure

      Brown and Tatum are probably the reason why Ainge has not made the trades people want him to make. Firstly, a star would take some of their shots.

      Mostly, a new add should have the right, positive personality to get approval from the existing stars. The history with IT, Irving, Kemba & others show this.

      IDK why this factor is not speculated more often by the large Boston media. Instead they put it all on Ainge. When will Tatum be expected to take things personally? And Brown gets political which keeps things larger than games.

      • buttholesurfer69

        Agree 100%

        It was always assumed Kyrie was the cancer in Boston, and while I definitely believe that’s partially true, the play of Rozier and Hayward in Charlotte makes me (and probably a few other people) cast a little side eye at Brown & Tatum.

        Because, wow, those two guys, Rozier and Hayward, that apparently didn’t feel all that welcome in Boston …. could sure help this team right now.

        Meanwhile J&J are both putting up great numbers, but also jab stepping games away and playing .500 basketball.

  1. KnickerbockerAl

    Well Kemba had a big game, this mean fans will leave him be now. Boston rushed him back last yr. And he was never right. Kemba gets the blame for that. All he did is try and please team n play. This yr he still wasn’t right from beginning of season. I don’t know excatly what wrong. But it seems Boston doesn’t either. Cause he’s been in n out again this yr. Something physical should have been taken care of already even if it’s surgery. You can’t depend on a player just cause he signed a big contract. He has to be healthy and able to play every day. Maybe they should just explore a trade just move on. Celtics to me have been slow on trigger with lots of moves. This Kemba thing is just latest. Come to NY we’ll take care you Bronx native.

    • buttholesurfer69

      Hate to say it but this is probably the tip of the ice with Kemba. Even if he’s 100% once you hit your 30s you tend to lose a half step, a quarter of a step.

      For the under 6 feet players that can and usually does mean a somewhat substantial drop off.

      Made this point before but Danny and co had to see this coming. They had the exact same issue with Isaiah 3-4 years ago. Small quick guy about to get paid right before his 30th.

  2. Marty McRae

    How is beating the Clippers without Kawhi “impressive” again?

    The Eastern Conference is the minor leagues of the NBA.

    • KnickerbockerAl

      Who said impressive.
      Go argue with the mirror lol. You’ll get more responses. A win is a win and with Kemba scoring. It’s a good win for Celtics. Would Kawhi guard Kemba ??

      • I Beg To Differ

        The author.

        Boston won its third straight game on Tuesday night, as an impressive victory over the Clippers put the team back over .500

  3. KnickerbockerAl

    Berman the Knick hater is all about the negativity. It’s always the glass is half empty and worse. Knicks have too many guards. Nttilikina hasn’t been playing longer than Rivers. You think he’d see the wisdom in that. With TD coming I’d like see Nttilikina play more. Teams know Rivers trading him is no issue. Teams need to get a look at Frank it’ll help us.
    #BermaNYKhater

  4. JohnTheSportsFanatic

    How is their win vs the clippers impressive? They barely beat them and the clippers didn’t even have Kawhi. Put Kawhi on the clippers that game Clippers are winning.

  5. Ainge is reluctant (resistant really) to making trades where he’s not holding all the leverage, in season or in the off season. It’s rare for him to be a buyer in season simply because the in season trade market is almost always a seller’s market. Dealmakers are creatures of habit too, and are often resistant to operating outside of their comfort zone, often with good reason. So, I’m not sure the Celtics needs will overcome his reluctance. Pressure from ownership would certainly push him into it, but he’s been a good GM, (apparently) liked by ownership, so it’s hard to see that happening at this stage.

  6. Ironmonger835

    Sleezy Danny Ainge only tries to get over on people when he makes a trade. It’s okay if both teams benefit from a trade sometimes. If funny cuz quite a few of his moves have backfired or not turned out as well as he h0ped. What did he do with all those extra draft picks? Besides Tatum and Brown they have all been busts.

  7. case7187

    If the C’s could get a player like Beal would you trade Brown for that person ?

    Me in a second I just feels like when J&J are on the floor it’s all about who can score more so they sabotage each other by taking bad shots and passing it to each other it may not be every game but it’s something I’ve noticed

    • mlbnyyfan

      OK I would do Kuzma for Rivers if not I’m not helping LBJ have another chance at a ring. Time for someone else to win. Hopefully CP3 gets to the Finals.

    • buttholesurfer69

      Yup – the team plays like it’s 2003. It’s jab step jab step pass to Jaylen. Jab step jab step pass to Jayson. Fadeaway jumper.

      Not sure it’s a problem with J&J though (although it could be). It might be the coaching, definitely the personnel has something to do with it.

      I think if they were going to go for Beal they’d want a trio of J&J+BB. But yeah I don’t think they have enough to get a Beal trade done without trading one of the J’s.

  8. buttholesurfer69

    The Kemba signing was wishful thinking and sure it could have worked out, and maybe still could, but there was always a decent probability it was going to end with people asking “What happened to Kemba?” sooner than later.

    Obviously losing Kyrie for nothing would have hurt, but I don’t know, I still think that just keeping the cap clean other than J&J might have been the wiser move. Having max flexibility to build around those two.

    Let’s see how cutthroat Danny really is – he moved IT like it was nothing. Does he shop Kemba now? Try to get ahead of the possibility he may permanently be DG? Because this time next year that contract could be the new RWB.

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