Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images Boston Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge.
Despite the lack of a primary scorer/alpha dog on their team, the Boston Celtics are slowly creeping back into relevancy in the Eastern Conference. They have opened up the 2015-16 NBA season with a 16-13 record, thanks in large part to a surplus of depth and blue-collar talent on a roster where no player is averaging more than 21 points per game. That anyone is capable of stepping up and carrying the team on any given night seems to be the overarching mantra guiding the C’s this year.
However, in today’s star-driven league (and often multiple star-driven at that), it seems almost impossible that a team can be a legitimate playoff contender without at least an All-Star scorer leading the troops, even with a top-seven head coach like Brad Stevens overseeing matters. And that rings true with the Celtics currently being ninth in the Eastern Conference as, despite their respectable record, they are unable to distinguish themselves from the rest of the Association’s working class. Thus, with young assets galore (most notably, Brooklyn’s unprotected first-rounder in 2016), Boston is widely seen as a prospective buyer on the trade market this winter, a team one impact piece away from really making some noise out East.
One such player the Celtics have been linked to is Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, whose long-standing frustration in Sacramento has been well-documented. But the interest may not be at all mutual according to team president Danny Ainge.
In an appearance on 98.5 the Sports Hub in Boston last week, Ainge was vocal about the team’s desire for a dominant scori
“I think the one thing that we could really use is a go-to scorer,” said the 56-year-old executive per ESPN. “We have some guys that have carried us — Kelly [Olynyk has] carried us, Avery [Bradley has] carried us, Isaiah [Thomas has] carried us, [Jared Sullinger has] carried us at moments during the season, Evan Turner has carried us — but it would be nice to find another player that’s a reliable scorer at the end of games, night in and night out.”
But, though barred by NBA tampering rules from mentioning specific players by name, Ainge hinted that Cousins and his personality might not fit the profile of that go-to scorer the Celtics are looking for.
“We have good character on our team right now and some mature kids even though we don’t have an old team,” Ainge continued. “I don’t think it’s ever a good idea to have players who are disruptive to your team, on the court and off the court.”
The 25-year-old Cousins is averaging 24.5 points per game and 10.8 rebounds per game on the year and would really help a Celtics team that ranks 20th in rebound percentage and 15th in points in the paint this season (per NBA.com). But Cousins’ attitude issues have always been the turd in his punch bowl, and an addition like him to a relatively level-headed Boston locker room might outweigh the positive impact Boogie would provide on the court, something Ainge seems well-aware of. Not to mention that Cousins would be able to leave as an unrestricted free agent in 2018.
It does look like Ainge and the Celtics are intent on adding a volume scorer than can provide the team with a palpable offensive identity before the trade deadline. But we’ll go ahead and call the idea of a Cousins reunion in Boston with former Kings teammate Isaiah Thomas a longshot for now.