• Jimmy Butler of the Chicago Bulls and Paul George of the Indiana Pacers chase down a loose ball at the United Center on December 26, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.

Jimmy Butler of the Chicago Bulls and Paul George of the Indiana Pacers chase down a loose ball at the United Center on December 26, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo : Getty Images/Jonathan Daniel)

The NBA trade deadline has come and gone and the Boston Celtics, the team that many thought would make the blockbuster deal, simply stood by and watched.

The highly-publicized war chest of assets that "Trader Danny" has at his disposal all went for naught. Or did it?

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The Celtics were already being chided for not joining the DeMarcus Cousins contest, a bidding they could have easily won. However, many pundits understood their explanation that Cousins was not right for their culture. Also, it was publicized that they were pursuing two superstars, Jimmy Butler of the Chicago Bulls and Paul George of the Indiana Pacers.

From Boston.com, various tweets from Gary Washburn and Chris Forsberg noted Ainge's statements. Firstly, that "Nothing was good enough for us to do. Ainge was also quoted, while at the Celtics practice: "I am excited, actually. I was watching practice today, I was very excited by what I saw. I'm not disappointed. Not at all."

Ainge has his own criteria on which deal would be "good enough" for him. He has often been criticized for overvaluing his players and also asking a lot from trades. He has succeeded before (which is why he collected his assets) but the rest of the league may have learned from the harsh lesson he inflicted on the Brooklyn Nets. Teams are now demanding more from the Celtics, simply because they know that Ainge has more to give.

But Ainge refuses to fall into that trap, for better or worse. He will be judged again especially by the fans and local media. His final comment, while being a confidence booster for his players, may not sit well with fans. They might call him delusional if he thinks that this roster is enough to win the title. But reading between the lines, does he really feel that way?

Zach Lowe of ESPN actually counters that it's the opposite. Lowe noted that Ainge, just like all the other teams had to choose between their bright future or a chance to compete in the present. Both the Bulls and Pacers asked for at least two players and the Brooklyn pick. A selection of Jae Crowder, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart or Avery Bradley was the common price.

Lowe noted that George's free agency was too near, and the threat of the Lakers signing him away was "very, very real." Thus, George would not have been worth it even if he is a better fit.

Then Lowe broke down Ainge's sentiment. "In talking with Chicago, the present may have worried them. They'd have Butler, but would the new Big Three of Thomas, Butler, and Al Horford be good enough to dethrone Cleveland and (gulp) Golden State? If not, what was the point?"

That's it. Mortgaging their future for Butler now will still not guarantee them a title, even if they get through the Cavaliers. The Warriors are just too powerful and Ainge knows that.

It doesn't mean that Ainge would never trade for George or Butler. He might even do it at the draft. But not now, because they won't win get a banner anyway.