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Celtics are in a very good place right now

The Feb. 5 win over the Cavaliers in Cleveland was a highlight of the season’s first half.Ken Blaze/USA Today

A year ago at this time, the Celtics were in the midst of a consistent and at times frenetic fire sale. The December trade that sent point guard Rajon Rondo to the Mavericks was an indicator that the roster reconstruction had begun, and it escalated quickly.

Over a two-month span, the Celtics made six more trades leading up to the mid-February deadline. Players such as Tayshaun Prince, Austin Rivers, Brandan Wright, and Jameer Nelson were acquired only to be shipped elsewhere. Players such as Jae Crowder and Isaiah Thomas arrived, unaware they would almost instantly become cornerstones in the team’s surprisingly rapid resurgence.


This season, by comparison, has been calm and stable. The Celtics have not made a trade since acquiring David Lee last July, and considering the team’s success, there is not necessarily any urgency to complete one before next Thursday’s deadline.

With their electrifying 139-134 overtime win over the powerful Clippers Wednesday, the Celtics entered the All-Star break at 32-23, in sole possession of third place in the Eastern Conference. They have won 13 of their last 17 games, and they are confident and comfortable. And after Wednesday’s win, there was a sense among players that making a move now could disturb team chemistry.

“Guys in the locker room, we’re sticking together and we’re fighting,” said Crowder. “I think guys top to bottom, from the 15th man on the bench to the first, we just stick together and we all come to work each and every day. And we stick up for one another.

“Let the other stuff, the [trade] talk and all that, take care of itself. We have no control over that.”

Still, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has that the team as currently constructed is probably not a championship contender, and he is working to build a championship contender. So in the coming days, Celtics executives will continue to work the phones and field inquiries and look for ways to upgrade the roster. But their current success, combined with their treasure chest of future assets, will allow them to proceed judiciously.


“I trust our front office to make the right recommendations and the right calls to help our team,” said coach Brad Stevens. “I think it would have to be something unique to continue to help our team. I think that we’ve got a lot of future flexibility and we know that, and at the same time we’ve got a hard-playing group of guys.”

Stevens is not very involved in trade season, mostly because he cannot afford to let his focus shift from the current roster. He first learned of last February’s deal for Thomas about 15 minutes before it transpired.

“There’s a lot of room to improve with the group that’s in there,” Stevens said. “My focus will be on that. I will respond anytime [team executives] want to talk about anything that’s going through their minds, but we haven’t had any of those conversations; nothing of substance.

“I’m sure that will pick up a little bit as the trade deadline gets closer, but I’m not anticipating my phone ringing off the hook.”

Thomas, who is headed to Toronto this weekend to take part in his first All-Star Game, deserves much of the credit for the Celtics’ surge. When he was asked about potential changes, he did not dismiss them. Perhaps he understands as well as anyone how dangerous the Celtics could be if he were complemented with another scorer.


“We’re at a solid area right now,” Thomas said. “The scary thing about it is, we know we can do better.”

That statement, of course, could be taken two ways: that the current Celtics know they can play better, or that the team could get better with an addition. The reality is that both of those notions are true.

The good news for the Celtics is that they are in a comfortable spot. Yes, there is room for an upgrade. But if they don’t improve their roster over the next week, they are still in position to be dangerous this spring.

“I’m excited about what’s going on here,” Thomas said, “and we have to continue to put our foot on the pedal.”

Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @adamhimmelsbach.