This time, the joke’s on you, Danny Ainge. Ainge, the general manager of the Boston Celtics, has pulled off some magic in years past with some big-time deals. This time, however, Ainge was on the other side as he apparently played hard to get and came away with nothing.
Danny Ainge was once known as ‘Trader Danny’
Danny Ainge once made one of the biggest deals for the Boston Celtics, collecting a boatload of draft picks and securing the future of his team. ‘Trader Danny’ sent aging Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets in a deal that brought back five players and three first-round picks from the Nets.
Ainge also made a deal with the Philadelphia 76ers, trading the No. 1 pick in the draft for the third pick and a future first-round pick. Ainge watched as the Sixers used that first-round pick to take Markelle Fultz, while Ainge scooped up Jayson Tatum. Ainge had taken Jaylen Brown in the first round the previous year. Things were looking good for Ainge and the Celtics.
The Celtics have performed well, but not well enough. They made it to the Eastern Conference Finals this year, but fell to the fifth-seeded Miami Heat. A couple of tweaks to the lineup and the Celtics could make a strong run again next year. Instead, Ainge has done nothing, except collect a few more late draft picks, while other teams in the East continue to improve.
Ainge stood still at the 2020 NBA draft
Maybe he tried, but Danny Ainge came up empty in the 2020 NBA draft. Armed with three first-round draft picks and another in the second round, the Celtics worst-case scenario was to make all those picks. The Celtics are a young team with no room on the roster to add four more young players.
Ainge made all four picks. Nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors on draft night. Maybe Ainge tried to package those picks. Maybe he tried to swindle another team. In any case, the Celtics did nothing, and that’s on Ainge.
After the draft, Ainge made some minor moves, trading backup center Vincent Poirier for a second-round pick. He then dealt another center, Enes Kanter, to the Portland Trail Blazers for another draft pick. Ainge had gotten pretty good at hoarding draft picks.
Danny Ainge let Gordon Hayward walk away
It seems like one of those deals where nobody is truly happy. Gordon Hayward opted out of the final year of his contract that would’ve paid him $34 million. It was reported on Twitter by NBA Insider Shams Charania that Gordon’s preferred destination was the Indiana Pacers. The Celtics were in talks with the Pacers, who reportedly offered Myles Turner and Doug McDermott for Hayward in a sigh-and-trade deal. Ainge was holding out for more.
Instead, Hayward has agreed to a four-year, $120 million deal with the Charlotte Hornets. The Hornets will need to get creative to fit Hayward under the salary cap. That means they’ll have to cut some salary or make a deal. The Celtics could get something in return from the Hornets in a sign-and-trade, but whatever (if anything) they get in return won’t rival what the Pacers offered.
Ainge is like an aging veteran player. His skills just aren’t what they used to be. He hasn’t done anything to make the team better in the last couple of seasons. Ainge got greedy if the Turner offer from the Pacers was on the table. Now there’s a chance he gets nothing in return.