All the recent Celtics trade chatter got me thinking about the Maine Red Claws. Since the Celtics began their affiliation with the northern crustaceans, the roster was used for little more than a storage facility for Danny Ainge’s mistakes. JaJuan Johnson, Fab Melo, Gabe Pruitt, and J.R. Giddens all donned the red and white before gracelessly bowing out of the league.
This year is set up much differently. I can almost guarantee a Celtic trade this season that will send out more salary than they take on given how close they are to the luxury tax threshold. The easiest way to do that is to send out more players than you take back, which will give the Celtics the roster flexibility we already know they want. Ainge told the Boston Herald as much when he discussed how, for once in Rajon Rondo’s seven year career, Ainge is not shopping him:
“I think that we don’t have much flexibility, as much as we would like,” said Ainge. “I wouldn’t say it’s a priority, but we are having conversations.”
All teams would love to have more roster flexibility, but it means so much more to the Celtics. They currently have players on their roster– Kris Humphries, Keith Bogans, MarShon Brooks– for which they have no use. At the same time, Ainge is quietly stashing players on the Red Claws– Chris Babb, Romero Osby, Kamron Taylor, Damen Bell-Holter–that he would love to keep evaluating.
He doesn’t have to deal Rondo, but if Ainge can pull off a trade where he sends out some of the Celtics’ wealthier veterans for one semi-bloated contract on it’s last legs he will. He knows the Celtics aren’t contending this season (even if you don’t, trust me, he knows) and would love the opportunity to get some future salary relief while getting a chance to see some young players test their skills against top competition (provided the Celtics avoid the repeat tax offender status).
So. As the Red Claws cut the ribbon on a new season this Friday, it may be worth your time to pay closer attention to who’s playing well. You might just see them move south before the winter’s over.