Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Raptors, VanVleet, Nets

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The Celtics haven’t made a change to their 15-man roster since the start of the regular season, standing pat at the trade deadline and not signing any players off the buyout market. Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald is among those who believes the team would benefit from another shooter off the bench, identifying Jamal Crawford as one viable option. However, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge doesn’t sound especially intrigued by any players available in free agency.

“It’s my impression that they’re rarely as good as people think they are,” Ainge told Bulpett. “A lot of people, including myself and coaches and players, think that a player is still what he was two or three years prior or that he can return to a time of (when he was a) better player. But there’s always a reason why players are available.”

The Celtics have one of the NBA’s best records at 42-21, but that doesn’t mean Ainge has been content since opening night to sit back and roll with this 15-man roster. As he explains to Bulpett, trade possibilities that he pursued prior to last month’s deadline didn’t end up coming to fruition.

“There were some trades that I would have liked to have done,” Ainge said. “But they were good players and the teams that would be giving them up didn’t want to give them up, so they needed to get a home run of a trade in order to do it. And that’s typically what happens when you’re trying to get players that the other team still wants.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • After dealing with injuries all long, often to multiple starters or rotation players at a time, the Raptors‘ next challenge may be a welcome one, according to Doug Smith of The Toronto Star, who writes that head coach Nick Nurse will have to figure out how to balance playing time for a fully healthy roster.
  • Although most of the injured Raptors players – including Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka – have now returned to the court, Fred VanVleet has yet to do so. Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca examines how experience has taught VanVleet, who has a sprained left shoulder, to be patient and avoid rushing back from a health issue.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic takes a deep dive into the Nets‘ situation and their surprising split with head coach Kenny Atkinson. Hollinger observes that Brooklyn’s coaching vacancy should be one of the most appealing around the NBA this spring, considering the team is in position to jump into the top four of the East in 2020/21.
  • In case you missed it, we passed along several other Nets notes earlier today.