Re-Assessing Boston Celtics Title Odds Post NBA Trade Deadline

Matthew SchmidtFeatured ColumnistFebruary 22, 2013

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 11:  Jordan Crawford #15 of the Washington Wizards drives the ball around Greivis Vasquez #21 of the New Orleans Hornets at New Orleans Arena on December 11, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The 2013 NBA trade deadline has come and gone, and despite a ton of rumors about Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce potentially being on the move, the Boston Celtics look almost identical now as they did before the deadline.

The Celtics did make one move, trading the injured Leandro Barbosa and Jason Collins to the Washington Wizards for disgruntled guard Jordan Crawford. But that was it. There was no blockbuster deal with the Los Angeles Clippers. There was no move for a big man. Basically, there wasn't much doing at all.

And you know what? That's not necessarily a terrible thing.

For starters, the Crawford acquisition was a coup for Danny Ainge. Barbosa was going to miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL anyway, and Collins was hardly getting off the pine. So, he essentially picked up a talented young scorer for nothing.

Is Crawford a bit of a chucker? Yes, but, hey, one can say the same thing about the other Crawford—Jamal. However, when Jamal is on, he is on. The same goes for Jordan, as evidenced by the fact that he averaged 19.1 points per game in the month of December.

Plus, it's not like the other top contenders in the Eastern Conference did anything to improve themselves. The Miami Heat, even more desperate for rebounding than Boston, stood pat. The Indiana Pacers did nothing. The New York Knicks dumped Ronnie Brewer in order to create a roster spot for Kenyon Martin, someone who hasn't played since May.

The Chicago Bulls kept their roster as is, much to the dismay of Derrick Rose's brother. The Brooklyn Nets? They couldn't find any trades, and when your best trade pieces are MarShon Brooks and Kris Humphries and his $24 million contract, it's easy to understand why.

The team that made the biggest "splash" was the Milwaukee Bucks, who struck a deal with the Orlando Magic for J.J. Redick. (It really speaks to how uneventful the trade deadline was when Redick was the headline name moved.)

So, looking at it from that perspective, the C's' slim title odds basically remain the same. Anyways, let's face it, the Celtics' chances at winning another championship took a nosedive once Rajon Rondo went down, and the only way they could have salvaged such aspirations was to go and get Josh Smith.

Boston can still compete with any team in the league, and Doc Rivers' ballclub could probably beat any team in the East not named the Heat in the playoffs. But that's just it—they need to beat Miami to get to the promised land, and with the roster as is, that doesn't seem very plausible.

For those who may be angry with Ainge for not making any moves, put yourself in his shoes. Actually, don't...because you can't.

None of us have any idea what it is like to be an NBA general manager, especially around this time of year. With all of the injuries the Celtics have had, losing the likes of Rondo, Barbosa and Jared Sullinger, it would have been incredibly difficult for Ainge to make a trade that actually made sense for all parties involved.

After losing two guards, Ainge certainly couldn't offer up one of the team's best trade chips in Courtney Lee, and with Sullinger gone, even dealing the much-maligned Brandon Bass would have been tough.

Plus, any deal with Bass and his rather poor contract would have had to include other Celtics players to make Ainge's offer appealing. With the roster as thin as it is thanks to all of the injuries, Boston simply could not afford to send out more guys than they would be getting back.

There are also those who are miffed at the fact that Ainge did not trade Garnett to the Clippers for the rumored offer of Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan.

First of all, we have no idea what Los Angeles truly offered. Second of all, are those two players a good return for KG anyway? They certainly don't seem like it.

Bledsoe may have potential and Jordan may develop into a very reliable center, but after everything Garnett has done for the C's' organization, you would have to get more in return for the future Hall of Famer.

Also, some people are forgetting that KG had a no trade clause and said that he was not willing to waive it. Well, case closed right there.

The funniest thing about all of this is that we don't even really know how deep discussions between the two sides went. For all we know, there may have been a five-minute conversation between the two sides over a week ago, and then it got blown out of proportion into something it never really was.

Getting back on track here, Ainge should be commended for at least pulling one rabbit out of his hat.

The Crawford deal was great, as he will replace Barbosa and has the ability to create his own shot. His three-point percentage has also improved significantly this season, jumping from 28.9 percent to 34.5 percent. It's also worth noting that in 12 January games, Crawford shot 45.5 percent from the floor and 47.1 percent from downtown.

The Indiana product should add some instant offense to a Celtics bench that was in dire need of it after the loss of two productive reserves in Sullinger and Barbosa. Crawford will join Jeff Green and Jason Terry to comprise a rather formidable scoring trio off the pine.

Does Crawford improve Boston's title odds by himself? No, but he makes them a better team, and, hey, you never know. What if one of the Heat's big three goes down with an injury?

You never know what can happen. That's why if you're the C's, you don't just give up, and Ainge didn't do that. He saw an opportunity to add some bench scoring, and he did it by nabbing Crawford.

He also didn't make any silly, rash decisions by trading Garnett (who would have rejected any deal anyway) or Paul Pierce.