Danny Ainge is currently sitting in the basement of his multi-million dollar estate staring off into the glow of his fireplace, weighing the options of the Boston Celtics future. Behind that easygoing permanent grin on Danny’s face, there is a man who has every bit of twisted evil inside of him as the Miami Mafia headman, Pat Riley.
Since the Summer of 2007, Ainge has created a track record and reputation of a trade assassin as he has legitametely become one of the most feared general managers to negotiate with in professional sports. He has openly killed several franchises since the moment the Celtics have returned to their accustomed success in 2007-08.
Danny has been so good at trading that it often hinders his ability to talk with opposing general managers as they dread the possibility of becoming the next team that ends up on his chopping block.
Here is just a brief history of Ainge’s ability to fleece a team:
2007: Traded Jeff Green, Wally Szczerbiak, Delonte West and a 2008 2nd (Trent Plaisted) to the Seattle SuperSonics for Ray Allen and Glen Davis.
2007: Traded Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair, a 2009 (Wayne Ellington) and a 2009 1st round draft pick (Jonny Flynn) to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Garnett.
2013: Traded Doc Rivers (coach) to the Los Angeles Clippers for a 2015 1st. Hired Brad Stevens.
2013: Traded Lucas Nogueira, a 2014 2nd (Cleanthony Early) and a 2014 2nd (Russ Smith) to the Dallas Mavericks for Kelly Olynyk.
2013: Traded Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and D.J. White to the Brooklyn Nets for Keith Bogans, MarShon Brooks, Kris Humphries, Kris Joseph, Gerald Wallace, a 2014 1st (James Young), a 2016 1st (Jaylen Brown), rights to a 2017 1st round pick swap, and a 2018 1st round draft pick.
2014: As part of a 3-team trade, the Boston Celtics traded a future 2nd round draft pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers; the Brooklyn Nets traded Marcus Thornton to the Boston Celtics; the Cleveland Cavaliers traded Tyler Zeller and a future 1st round draft pick to the Boston Celtics (sat in on this trade and received Zeller, Thornton, and a first that led to Isaiah).
2014: Traded Dwight Powell and Rajon Rondo to the Dallas Mavericks for Jae Crowder, Jameer Nelson, Brandan Wright, a 2016 1st round draft pick and a 2016 2nd round draft pick. (Boston also received $13M trade exception.)
2015: As part of a 3-team trade, the Boston Celtics traded Marcus Thornton and a 2016 1st round draft pick (Cleveland) to the Phoenix Suns for Isaiah Thomas.
While the Celtics have floated into almost every trade rumor possible this week, it won’t be until the final minutes of deadline day that Danny decides to emerge from the dark shadows of his basement — with or without the cards Twitter has been anticipating him to play.
I couldn’t help myself from referencing John Wick for the second straight post (anytime you have the ability to reference the greatest action movie in recent memory you do it every single time!!!): “Danny is a man of focus, commitment, and sheer will… something you know very little about.”
Sure, it’s easy to sit behind our keyboards and get upset that Danny hasn’t cashed in on a Jimmy Butler or Paul George rumor. I get that. It’s “what you collect all of these assets for”, “all of these picks”.
The common complaint has been that he won’t stop “hoarding” the assets without any return to show for them. The time to cash in on those rewards very well might be tomorrow, moments before the deadline. And if that happens, in no way am I going to be discouraged that the Celtics were finally able to bring a true superstar to Boston in Butler, George, or even Drummond. The Celtics would likely jump to the third best team in the NBA and hold an opportunity to attack Cleveland in a season that suggests they might be down.
The only discouragement that will take place is if a deal is rushed — like many followers are suggesting from their keyboards — and the Bulls or Pacers get overpaid. Danny is very, very sneaky. If this was such an obvious move, wouldn’t it be over already?
Ainge really only comes out for a trade when he smells blood. Each phone call he makes is like a shark circling the shallows, waiting for something to percolate. When Danny feels the deal is appropriate, he will call his good buddy Larry Bird or Reinsdorf and strike. Danny has the best trade chips, the ball is in his court. If one of these players get traded, they’re going to Boston. That’s final.
The Celtics currently have the second best record in the Eastern Conference — 5th best in the NBA — despite many believing they don’t possess a true superstar. Yes, they’d gain that in Paul George or Jimmy Butler. But if you add them by losing let’s say, Jae Crowder AND Avery Brady/Marcus Smart, AND a Nets pick are we sure that team has a better chance at knocking out Cleveland? Does it really extend their window further to a handful of years from now when the Warriors are slowing down and LeBron has returned from his NFL stint to join the Washington Wizards?
Trading for one of those players right now makes you a larger threat to snatch the East from Cleveland, sure, but are you winning a title this year? No. Well, not without multiple injuries and a plethora of good luck.
By trading for those players you’re stripping the soul of your team by losing Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley/Marcus Smart. This team is really, really fun for who they have emerged as.
These are real things Danny needs to think about as he tries to push this team towards a positive future without falling onto his sword of assets.
He can’t cash out too late, he can’t cash in too early. The timing has to be perfect, and maybe that is finally tomorrow.
What happens if you add these Brooklyn picks to the current roster? What happens if you trade for Butler or George on draft night when the price is much lower and then you take a crack at Cleveland with this squad? What if you add a free agent such as Gordon Hayward to the roster this summer? What if you trade for Butler/George AND look to score in free agency? What about your draft-and-stash players in Ante Zizic — would be top 10 ranked prospect in this year’s draft — and Guerschon Yabusele (French Draymond)?
The Boston Celtics are sitting with the two seed in the Eastern Conference after having their starting unit healthy for less than 10 collective games. With a record of 24-8 since Isaiah returned from injury, we’re reminded that this was supposed to be a rebuilding process that started Marcus Smart’s rookie season! Again, they’re the second seed in their conference AND have the best odds at the number one pick, followed by a top three pick!
At minimum, I expect Ainge to make a move for a veteran such as PJ Tucker or Andrew Bogut — the player I want regardless of what may or may not take place at the deadline.
As a Celtics fan, I honestly can’t complain. It’s weird being in this situation because no matter what happens, I believe it’s great for the organization either way. Danny has pulled off maybe the two quickest tank-jobs in the history of the league and it’s amazing. What’s the rush for a championship anyways? Boston has 17 of them.
Avenue 1: Trade for a superstar; take a crack at LeBron; add via free agency; repeat (and hope to win a championship).
Avenue 2: Hold onto your picks; hope to draft the future stars of the NBA; take cracks at LeBron with the current core; add via free agency/draft, (hope to win a championship in a much larger window).
I believe in Danny Ainge. The present and the future are here in a gift wrapped package because of Danny Ainge. I can only support whichever decision he comes to while staring at that fireplace tonight.
Whichever decision is made, he will continue to bless Boston in ways that only the asset God can — continuing to stockpile, or fireworks.