Murphy: Celtics Won at Deadline by Standing Pat

February 8, 2019
New Orleans Pelicans' Anthony Davis talks during a timeout in Wednesday's game against the Bulls in Chicago. AP PHOTO Sentinel and Enterprise staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

By Mark Murphy

Boston Herald

BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics achieved their main trade deadline goal Thursday when New Orleans chose to sit tight and hold onto Anthony Davis, stunting an attempt by the Lakers to land the best big man in the game and handing leverage to Danny Ainge.

The Celtics president, in longtime talks with New Orleans about trading for Davis, can now work on polishing his best offer -- which may require the inclusion of Jayson Tatum -- by the opening of the new contractual year on July 1. A trade for Davis may be the step that secures a commitment from Kyrie Irving, whose presence in turn may be what’s needed to convince Davis to stay when he enters free agency in the summer of 2020.

But as the Celtics settled for a peripheral move -- opening up a roster spot by sending Jabari Bird and cash to Atlanta before the deadline -- the top of the Eastern Conference continued to bulk up.

Toronto added one of the most skilled big men in the game -- Marc Gasol -- to a loaded starting lineup by agreeing to send Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright and C.J. Miles to Memphis, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Philadelphia, already bolstered by the addition of Tobias Harris, found a new home for Markelle Fultz by trading the 2017 No. 1 pick to Orlando for Jonathan Simmons.

The Celtics, on the other hand, are now focused on the buyout market. Bird, who is still facing domestic assault charges stemming from an incident last September involving a former girlfriend, is expected to be released by the Hawks.

But according to a league source, the Celtics don’t have a specific target in mind as they wait for the buyout field to emerge.

Enes Kanter, the Turkish center who reportedly reached agreement on a buyout with the Knicks Thursday, is not said to be of interest to Ainge.

“I don’t think so,” said the source. “I think they’re staying put.”

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