There are fewer than 24 hours remaining until the NBA trade deadline on Thursday afternoon and while things have been pretty busy around the league with several deals already going down, the whispers have been very quiet on the Celtics front, outside of the constant Anthony Davis chatter that will remain in place until the All-Star is dealt.
While the Davis subplot will keep the Celtics front office sweating until 3:01 p.m., there are still a lot of other areas to keep an eye on with Boston through tomorrow afternoon and into the upcoming months. With that mind, here's what to watch out for from Boston as the deadline approaches.
1. Will the Celtics be able to dump Jabari Bird with a team?
The Celtics have taken their sweet time on this front, waiting for the legal process to play itself out while playing out the year with 14 roster players as Bird remained away from the team. Bird's career in Boston is over one way or another but Thursday marks the last time the Celtics are guaranteed to get him off their salary books for the 2018-19 season. We've talked for months about the possibility that Bird will be traded with cash and potentially a draft pick to a team with an open roster spot, who could waive the guard immediately and pocket the savings and asset. However, given the seriousness of Bird's legal situation, most teams would be hesitant to take on Bird even with the knowledge that they will be dumping him immediately. That could cause a higher asking price for Boston than a usual salary dump and it's unclear whether or not the Celtics would want to pay that price.
There are alternatives here for Boston as well if the asking price to take on Bird by other teams is too high and Ainge still wants to open up a roster spot. Waiving Bird outright will cost the C's ownership a couple of million dollars in luxury tax penalties (since Bird's contract is guaranteed and will count fully against the cap), so that's less than ideal. Ainge could wait for the legal process to sort itself out with Bird, opening the door for the NBA to void Bird's contract and give the Celtics cap relief. However, that timeline will not line up with the Celtics potential desire to fill in a roster spot with an appealing free agent on the buyout market in the next few weeks.
For Ainge and ownership, the choice may very well between saving some cash (i.e. keeping Bird through legal process) or paying a price with an asset to dump him now to get full use of that roster spot without the added luxury tax penalties. The Celtics would prefer the latter but it's going to take two teams to tango on that front.
2. Will the Celtics make a trade to improve their positioning in the Anthony Davis chase?