Though team president Danny Ainge has publicly ridiculed the Allen trade reports, several NBA executives told CBSSports.com that the Celtics have been actively trying to parlay Allen's $19.7 million expiring contract into an asset that could keep them in the mix during the upcoming playoffs and also help them for the next several seasons. The most recent inquiry, sources say, involved Sacramento sharpshooter Kevin Martin, who'd be a good fit with Boston's remaining core. Kings officials might be talked out of their reluctance to deal Martin if they could pry a prolific big man out of a third team brought into the discussions or in a separate transaction before the deadline.
The bottom line is that Ainge, who saved his job by pulling off the perfect storm of trades that yielded Allen and Garnett three years ago, has made it clear in private conversations that he's "not going back to the abyss," according to one person familiar with the discussions.
"Danny has said, 'I can't go back to square one where we were prior to the Garnett deal,'" the person said. "At the All-Star break, they’re going to look in the mirror and say, 'Cleveland got better, we can't beat Orlando, and we can't even beat the Hawks. We’re not going to win it this year.'"
This entire segment of new rumored trades involving the Celtics confirms what I've been trying to say ever since the SERIOUS possibility of trading Allen came up. At first, we were riding high; memories of Allen torching Chicago were still fresh in my mind. Now, not only is Allen slumping --and showing signs that this bad streak will continue and worsen -- but the C's are just collectively not able to put it together. A few days ago, I said "We have it." And 'it' was the championship -- that is, if we played like expectations pegged us. However, with another second-half collapse yesterday and the offers for Ray getting more and more intriguing, I've brought myself to this conclusion (reluctantly so):
Danny Ainge has to come to the realization that the Celtics aren't the team of 2007-08. As much as we thought they could be heading into the season, during the beginning dwindles of the slump -- even before last night, the Celtics are displaying that slow epiphany that has fully dawned us now, and we've finally come to accept it. At their worst basketball it's hard to watch, but even at their BEST basketball, they can't return to that level of '07-08.
At some point, Danny Ainge just has to do something -- anything -- to give us new light. Because sadly, we were only able to witness greatness for a short time before the window of darkness opened again.