We all saw our Celtics roll out the newest members of the team yesterday – players like Jason Terry, Jeff Green, Chris Wilcox and Brandon Bass – and we all know that two of those players don’t officially have a deal in place. Further, we all also know that Danny Ainge is working the creative side of his brain, trying to come up with sign-and-trade deals that will allow the Celtics to use the full MLE on another player – a Courtney Lee, or an O.J. Mayo, for instance – that will help propel the Celtics to bigger and better things.
You’ve gotta give Ainge credit – he knows that this team still needs an extra kick, and he’s working hard to bring in the player he feels will be the missing link in a championship roster. Losing Ray Allen hurt on a number of levels, but Ainge has clearly moved on. He knows it’s time to put Allen in the rear view mirror and focus his sights on other available talent. In fact, he’s known that for some time now. You don’t get to the level of dysfunction that existed between Allen and the Celtics without knowing that Allen would likely bolt for Miami. The one thing Ainge didn’t count on, was that Allen would leave a ton of money on the table to flee his situation in Boston.
So Ainge underestimated Allen’s discontent. It further empowered the Heat, but more importantly, it created a hole that Ainge continues to try and fill.
Enter the world of the sign-and-trade, and the limbo state that is the contract status of Terry and Green.
Don’t panic – Terry and Green will be Celtics this upcoming season. The question is, can Ainge work out a deal for Lee or Mayo? And, which player does Ainge prefer? Based on previous trade efforts, we know that Ainge is a Mayo fan. He likes Mayo’s ability to score the basketball, but he truly valus his transition defense – an area that the athletic Heat exposed in the Eastern Conference Finals. However, there are plenty of other suitors interested in Mayo, including the Lakers, Suns, Mavs and Bulls. Given that Mayo is only 24, and that he has some many attractive qualities, the chances of landing Mayo in a sign-and-trade appear long indeed.
That brings us to Lee. With the Jeremy Lin situation taking a turn, thanks to the Knicks going after Raymond Felton, Lee might be the easier target for Ainge at this point. And while it may not be the player that Ainge covets, it will at least help bolster the depth chart and hopefully position the C’s to make another run at the NBA Finals.
Stay tuned, our man Ainge ain’t done yet.