WASHINGTON — In recent seasons the trade deadline had been a frenetic time for the Celtics. Whether they were acquiring a player such as Isaiah Thomas or negotiating blockbusters that did not quite come through, there was always a sense they were in the mix for something big.
But this year president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and his staff spent several weeks inquiring about deals, and it became clear to Ainge that a trade would be unlikely. And with fewer big names on the market, the level of buzz was muted. Thursday’s 3 p.m. deadline passed without a trade by Boston, and the Celtics are fine with that.
Ainge declined to discuss specifics of players he had attempted to acquire this week, but one league source said that on Thursday the Celtics and Grizzlies did discuss a potential trade that would have brought high-scoring guard Tyreke Evans to Boston. In the end, the Celtics were reluctant to part with a first-round pick and had faith in their current roster.
“Things sort of fell where we thought they would fall,” Ainge said. “We tried to do a couple deals, but there was nothing there we thought was good. We like our guys. We like our team. We didn’t feel like we had to do something, so move on forward.”
This week the Celtics were rumored to be shopping Marcus Smart, who will be a restricted free agent at season’s end, but Ainge said the team had never planned to trade the guard.
“I never really thought that we would move him, and nothing ever came close,” Ainge said. “We love Marcus and feel like he has a future with us. I’m really looking forward to getting him back healthy, and I think he’s going to have a terrific second half of the season.”
Smart remains sidelined as he recovers from a hand injury he sustained when he punched a picture frame in his Los Angeles hotel room on Jan. 24. He is expected to return after the All-Star break.
Despite the quiet trade deadline, the Celtics could still be active in the buyout market. Ainge said the team would “absolutely” explore those options, but it remains unclear what veterans will become available.
According to multiple reports, the Kings and forward Joe Johnson will likely agree to a buyout following the three-team deal that sent Johnson from Utah to Sacramento, so he could be a possibility for Boston. Ainge said he would not seek any particular type of player, but added that teams are always looking for shooters.
Still, the Celtics have been patient throughout this process, and could elect to let their team stand.
“I don’t feel like we need to [sign a player after a buyout],” Ainge said. “We have a full roster. We like our guys. The continuity is a good thing also. So if there’s a good deal out there for us, then we’ll explore it. But I don’t feel like we have any major holes.”
The Celtics on Thursday officially signed free agent Greg Monroe to a one-year deal. The sides had agreed to a deal on Monday, but the Celtics had been waiting to finalize it until after the trade deadline so they would have extra flexibility in potential trades.
Monroe, who reached a buyout agreement with the Suns last week, played 20 minutes in Thursday’s 110-104 overtime win over the Wizards.
“Greg is an experienced player,” Ainge said. “He can score in the post. I think he will be a terrific passer in our offense. We use our big guys with the ball quite often and he’s been a good rebounder throughout his career. He’s a veteran guy who seems really interested in this opportunity to come play for a team that can win some playoff games.”
Monroe has been working out with team staffers this week, and the Celtics have fed him the basics of the scheme and system. Monroe said he grasps Boston’s defensive scheme, and that he is learning the new offensive calls.
“When I talked to Brad [Stevens] he said to do what I do,” Monroe said. “He’s not going to ask me to be anyone other than myself. Just bring the skill sets I’ve had over the years. Just add to this team. Obviously they’re playing at a really high level. Just help in any way I can.”
While the Celtics were quiet Thursday, the reeling Cavaliers swiftly reshaped their team in an attempt to make a Finals run, and also perhaps to sway LeBron James to return next season.
Cleveland tore down its aging and struggling roster and restocked it with younger, more athletic players. In three separate deals, the Cavs parted ways with Thomas, Jae Crowder, Channing Frye, Derrick Rose, and Dwyane Wade, and they acquired Rodney Hood, George Hill, Larry Nance Jr., and Jordan Clarkson.
The changes could make Cleveland more dangerous in the East, but the Celtics are not overly concerned with the moves of their conference rivals right now.
“I’ll think about them more on Saturday when I’m thinking about getting ready to play them Sunday,” Stevens said.
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