BOSTON

The trade deadline came and went Thursday afternoon, and when Danny Ainge stepped out of his office shortly after 4 p.m., there were no transactions to be announced.

The Celtics’ president of basketball operations received a number of offers throughout the day and there were several routes he could’ve taken. But at the end of it all, no proposition was worth breaking up the current roster or sacrificing future draft picks or flexibility.

“We just didn’t have any deals that were good enough for us,” Ainge explained. “We didn’t want to give up our players or our picks for the players that were being offered. I think that we went in with every intention of trying to do something and we had some high goals of what we wanted to accomplish, and now wasn’t the time.”

Several Celtics have blossomed this season, so it was no surprise to hear that many opposing teams were buzzing Ainge’s phone throughout the day.

“We have a lot of good players on good contracts,” he said. “People around the league know that, so a lot of people tried to get those from us. But at the end of the day, I think we’re in a better position by not doing any of the deals that were offered to us.”

Thus, the Celtics will exit the All-Star break with the exact same unit with which they entered it. Considering their success through the first two-thirds of the season, that’s nothing to be disappointed about.

Boston currently sits in third place in the Eastern Conference with a 32- 23 record. There are no superstars on this team, but it’s chock full of guys who work hard and enjoy playing together. Such widespread chemistry is unique, and the organization certainly cherishes it.

“You hear it all the time about all the pieces working together and maximizing all the pieces to maximize the talent that you have by playing together,” said Ainge. “And you hear also where there’s stars that don’t get along and they don’t really max out the talent that’s on the team. I think our team is maxing out their talent. I think they enjoy playing with one another, and I think they’ll be excited to continue on what they’ve done in the first 55 games.”

One could argue that it wouldn’t make sense to alter that chemistry considering the prosperity the team has experienced. Ainge, however, explained that the team’s success thus far actually makes it more tempting to seek a trade and try to improve in order to have more of a chance for an immediate banner run.

“I think that the team’s success right now maybe added a little bit of pressure in wanting to do something a little bit more,” said Ainge. “But we weren’t able to. There were deals available, but not anything that I think were in our best interests.”

Ainge has always expressed interest in landing a transcendent player, but those types of stars are difficult to come by and he explained there must be patience when seeking such a high-caliber talent.

“It might seem like we’re pushing that off,” he said with a smile. “But I think I only counted 10 or 15 of those in the league, so we’ll continue our pursuit of transcendent players through the draft and through trades and through free agency.”

For now, Ainge and the team are focused on tackling the season at hand with the assets they already have. Based on the first two thirds of the season, there is a lot to look forward to as the team begins its final stretch of the regular season.

Unfortunately, the C’s will begin the stretch run without Kelly Olynyk, who injured his shoulder against the Clippers just ahead of the All- Star break. However, their frontcourt logjam should help in his absence.

“It’s going to be a while before he comes back, but hopefully we can hold down the fort, and we certainly we have a lot of depth to overcome some small injuries,” said Ainge.

He added, “ I’m really excited about the stretch run. I’m really excited about our team. Our defense, it’s been really impressive. We’ve played some small ball lineups and we’ve played more traditional lineups and we have the second- best defense in the NBA right now through 55 games.”

That group of guys that compiled such a ranking is the same one you’ll see out on the court Friday night, when the Celtics embark on the final third of the season with a game against the Jazz in Salt Lake City. It will be the same squad that pushes for a playoff run come mid- April.

From there, with the assets the C’s possess and the options they will have this summer, the sky will be the limit as they continue to pursue their next banner.


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