Boston Celtics: Is Danny Ainge the One To Blame?
Danny Ainge has been a member of the Boston Celtics organization for almost 20 years now. He was not only a part of the original Big Three era (that consisted of Larry Bird, Robert Parrish and Kevin McHale) which brought two championships, but he helped construct another Big Three era (that consisted of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen). That era brought in championship number 17 during the 2007-2008 season. Though there have been many positives throughout Ainge’s tenure as General Manager, there have also been a good share of negatives as well. Some may have cost the Celtics championship number 18.
It all starts back in the 2010-2011 season where the Celtics were a conference-best 40-14 at the All-Star break. They were looked at as the front-runners to make it to the Finals for the third time in four seasons. Despite having the best record in the East, the Celtics decided to make some noise at the trade deadline and moved center Kendrick Perkins and guard Nate Robinson to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for forward Jeff Green and center Nenad Kristic. Though this past season Green did have a stellar year for Boston, averaging 12.8 PPG, 3.9 RPG and shot .467 from the field to truly look like the future of the Celtics organization, it has been three long years in the making.
Not only was Perk a defensive presence, but he was also a critical part of the Celtics team chemistry. “Ubuntu”, remember? It was a chemistry that was broken up by Ainge and arguably cost Boston a run at the title; they were defeated by the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Looking back on it, Danny Ainge admitted that he wished he could hit the restart button on the trade, knowing that it may have cost them a championship.
After a couple of seasons of staying relatively quiet at the trade deadline, Danny Ainge has most recently been back to his old tricks. Remember, Ainge is on record saying that he would “trade anyone” if it would better the team (in his mind). Now fast-forward to June 26, 2013 as one of the best coaches in the NBA, Doc Rivers, has been traded by Ainge and the Celtics, to the Los Angeles Clippers for a 2015 first-round pick. According to Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com, Ainge is “stunned” by Doc leaving. “It still probably hasn’t hit me,” Ainge said, “because I didn’t really think it was going to happen. I have not talked to one coaching candidate at this point. I think for the first time really, I thought, ‘This is going to happen. This is probably going to happen.’ Up until that time, I never really thought it was going to happen.” Though Ainge is “shocked” that Doc left the Celtics, he may need to look in the mirror and accept responsibility for Rivers’ decision.
So now, not only is Doc gone, but according to ESPNBoston.com, the Boston Celtics and the Brooklyn Nets have agreed to a blockbuster deal that has sent stars Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett along with guard Jason Terry to Brooklyn in exchange for forwards Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries and Kris Joseph along with guards Marshon Brooks and Keith Bogans. The Celtics will also receive three first round picks. Ainge decided to pull the trigger on the trade and Garnett chose to waive his no-trade clause, as the Celtics have entered into full rebuild-mode. Though they will have a young core to build around consisting of Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger and newly drafted Kelly Olynyk, the Celtics may want to consider moving on from Danny Ainge as well. They need to move back toward a GM like Red Auerbach, who honored tradition, his players, a legacy, and Celtic Pride.