Sitting in third place with a 32-23 record, the improving Boston Celtics are becoming players in the Eastern Conference. They have also stockpiled a plethora of draft picks, and many thought they would make a deal before Thursday's trade deadline.
While they never pulled the trigger, Celtics president Danny Ainge said they came close during an interview on 98.5 The Sports Hub's Toucher and Rich (via CSN New England):
We were willing to do one deal, and it just didn't happen. Both teams weren't ready to go. And it was a really tough, close deal. And it was certainly not a no-brainer. There was risk on both sides' part. But at the end of the day, both teams were not ready to do it. ... It's something we had been deliberating on for two days straight.
The other team was doing that (as well). And we were wrapping ourselves around a big package to do a deal, and at the very last minute, you know, they just said, oh, they did not want to do it. They just backed out.
As Dan Feldman of Pro Basketball Talk noted, there is a difference between backing out of an agreement and backing out of negotiations. Either way, it apparently would have been a big deal, as Adam Kaufman of CBS Sports Radio reported it would have included the Brooklyn Nets' first-round pick, which the Celtics acquired after trading Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
At 14-40, the Nets will likely land in the draft lottery, and considering the pick is unprotected, it could give Boston the No. 1 overall selection.
Per Kaufman, Ainge said the deal would have surprised everyone, because it was never involved in any rumor talks. Of course, Ainge can say whatever he wants now because it didn't happen, and fans are left to speculate.
While the Celtics may not be on par with the Cleveland Cavaliers—or any of the top teams in the West—they will likely make the playoffs and gain valuable experience for upcoming seasons. Since a trade never happened, they'll be able to use the Nets' pick, along with their own, to continue building a contender.