For weeks, I had clung to the notion that the Celtics would make a trade to put the team back in contention for a championship. I hoped and waited for a significant trade that would make me believe again in this team.
In the end, Danny Ainge made just one move—sending three-point shooter Eddie House, along with seldom used Bill Walker and J.R. Giddens, to New York for three-time slam-dunk champ Nate Robinson and rookie forward Marcus Landry.
The exchange of undersized point guards has very little risk to it. Robinson could provide a much needed spark to the Celtics and has the potential to be a major offensive lift coming off the bench.
As far as Giddens and Walker, I never had much of a chance to see what they were capable of. Doc Rivers had said in the press a few weeks back that due to injuries and an attempt to cut back on minutes, especially for Ray Allen, he was going to have to start playing Walker more. Rivers never did, and it was unlikely he ever was going to either.
I don’t have any problem with the trade. I just wanted more. Much, much, more. The trade for Robinson is a minor deal. Even if Robinson is everything we could have hoped for, his impact on whether this team rises or falls will likely be minimal.
The Celtics had a great deal to work with in terms of assets to trade in order to address their many pressing needs. In addition to the now departed House and Giddens, Ainge had expiring contracts in Allen ($18 million), Tony Allen ($2.5 million), Brian Scalabrine ($3.4 million), and Shelden Williams ($800,000).
The urgency to make a significant move became that much greater to me from watching Kevin Garnett limp up and down the court each night. If there is anything left in his tank, enough to help this team return to the Finals, 2010 may be the last year for it to happen.
As an outsider, I always want to be slightly hesitant before I criticize a team for not making a trade. While I believe Ainge needed to make a move for an impact player, that does not mean he should have just done anything. I don’t know what trades he pursued, and what the other teams were offering and asking for.
With that said, regardless if Ainge is to blame or not for not making a more impactful trade, I find it difficult to see the Celtics, even with Robinson, being a team capable of competing for a title. I have become even more attached to that opinion considering Cleveland’s acquisition of Antawn Jamison, which securely establishes the Cavs as the team to beat.
Right now, Boston is not in the group of elite teams in the NBA. Substituting Robinson for House does not change that. How can a team that has blown eight double-digit leads in the second half, most of those since January, realistically think they can win a title?
The hope going forward has to be that with the trade deadline in the rearview mirror, there are no more excuses. The players the Celtics have are the players they are going to have to rely upon.
Ray Allen can finally relax knowing he is not going anywhere. The remainder of the roster can do the same. If there was any anxiety over who would be traded, that is now gone.
Whether he wanted to make a larger trade or not, Ainge has sent a message to this team that he believes Rajon Rondo, Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Kendrick Perkins are still a starting five capable of winning a title. He believes that the bench of Tony Allen, Rasheed Wallace, Marquis Daniels, Glen Davis, and now Robinson, will provide the depth required of a team with championship dreams.
Ever since losing to the Clippers on Dec. 27, the Celtics have lost their way. If Boston is to return to the type of team that opened the year 23-5, they must do so with the roster that is now in place.
The Celtics have 31 games left in the regular season to get back on track. Might as well begin tonight at the Lakers.