Boston Celtics RUMORS: Al Horford, Kevin Durant Top Targets In Free Agency

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Feb 19, 2016 10:31 AM EST
Al Horford
Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford drives past the Portland Trail Blazers in a 2016 game."

The Boston Celtics were the center piece of several NBA trade rumors heading into the deadline. Loaded with draft picks and roster assets, they were in the best position to make a big move for the second-half of the season. However, that big move did not come and team president Danny Ainge believes the Celtics are setting themselves up for big things to come in free agency.

When speaking to the media after the passing of the trade deadline, Ainge expressed patience. The Celtics were linked to deals for Al Horford, Kevin Love and Dwight Howard as the deadline clicked away. However, no moves were made as Ainge has his eye on the long-term outlook and not the short-term picture.

"I would say the success of our team this season might have made it more tempting to do something that wasn't just strictly long-term thinking. Maybe some short-term thinking to help us get better came into play and we had a lot of conversations in that regard, but there was nothing we were willing to do," said Ainge, via "Because the team has played well, it would have been nice for the now and for the playoff run to upgrade our roster, but [our success] also says a lot about our roster."

One thing that held the Celtics back from making a move was their reluctance to give up the first-round pick they earned from the Brooklyn Nets. According to Steve Bullpett of the Boston Herald, the Celtics refused to give up that first-round pick in deals for Horford and Howard. Boston had no interest in making a trade and then potentially losing either star in free agency while hurting themselves in the draft.

So where do the Celtics go from here? They can make it to the playoffs, they stand no chance against someone like the Cleveland Cavaliers or Toronto Raptors. Names like Howard and Horford will come into play again come free agency. A trade for Love will also likely be mentioned. Kevin Durant will get the teams attention. They will have the salary cap space along with picks to make trades.

In the short-term, Ainge told the media that the team and veteran David Lee are discussing a contract buyout. According to ESPN's Chris Forsberg, Lee was one of the players the Celtics wanted to deal away, but were unsuccessful. Forsberg reports Lee has already begun saying goodbyes to staffers understanding that the team simply had too many bigs to work with.

"Everything doesn't always work out the way you want it to," said Lee, via "I'm just disappointed from the fact that I wanted to come here and make a major impact. And that didn't happen for one reason or another. The last two places I had been before I may have been able to make that impact. It is what it is."

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