Ainge, the Celtics’ longtime general manager, has publicly said the Celtics need to overcome their maturity issues and fix a season in freefall. What could have been a promising 2020-21 season instead saw the Celtics split their first 30 games.
Other general managers may not be feeling too sympathetic about Ainge’s situation, though. According to a recent report, Ainge upset many around the NBA earlier this season when he tried to trade an injured Walker.
Ric Bucher accused Danny Ainge of making a bad mistake
Veteran NBA reporter Ric Bucher is spilling the dirt about Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge.
During a February 22 appearance on The Colin Cowherd Podcast on The Volume, Bucher explained how Ainge offended others around the NBA in recent months.
“A lot of GMs are ticked off at Danny [Ainge] because Danny tried like hell to move Kemba [Walker] at the beginning of the year, knowing that his knee wasn’t right. He was trying to get rid of damaged goods. And that’s the issue that Kemba is dealing with, and at his size, it’s a little bit like Isaiah Thomas. This is the second little point guard in a row he’s run into that has a physical issue and it changes everything.”
A left knee injury kept Kemba Walker out of the starting lineup until January. Walker averaged 17 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 1.2 steals in his first 15 games.
The four-time All-Star is only shooting 37.1% from the field, which is on his pace to be his lowest since hitting 38.5% of his shots during the 2014-15 season.
“In the regular season, you can kind of get away with it and disguise it, but when you play the best teams, they’re going to exploit that he’s undersized and can’t move the same way that he once could,” Bucher said.
Walker has taken some shots at the Celtics lately
Kemba Walker thought he was joining a potential Eastern Conference powerhouse when he signed a four-year, $141 million contract with the Boston Celtics in July 2019.
Things haven’t quite worked out that way. Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat defeated Boston in the Eastern Conference finals last year. Now, the Celtics are a .500 team with some personnel issues.
Walker recently called out the Celtics’ effort, telling reporters that he didn’t feel the Celtics were “playing as hard as we can.”
The Celtics have more than enough talent to reach the postseason this year. One has to wonder, however, if they’ll need the play-in game to secure a legitimate playoff berth.
Will Danny Ainge trade Kemba Walker this year?
Suddenly, the once-ludicrous idea of the Boston Celtics trading Kemba Walker doesn’t sound so outlandish.
Bucher is a reputable NBA reporter, and he publicly shared that Danny Ainge looked to trade Walker a few months ago. As Bucher reported, Ainge did something similar with Isaiah Thomas in the summer of 2017.
Ainge traded Thomas, a reigning All-Star, to Cleveland in the Kyrie Irving trade. Cleveland wound up trading Thomas, who had lingering effects from a hip injury, to the Los Angeles Lakers after 15 games in a Cavaliers uniform.
Thomas, who is currently a free agent, hasn’t been the same player since his hip injury. He averaged 12.2 points and 3.7 assists in 40 games with the Wizards last year but looked nothing like his All-Star self.
Could the Celtics make a similar trade happen with Kemba Walker, who is still recovering from a knee injury? Walker has two years remaining on his contract after this year, and he is an All-Star talent when healthy.
Knees can be tricky, though, and Ainge reportedly upset other general managers by trying to get an injured Walker off his hands. The next few weeks will be fascinating in Boston, especially if Walker publicly criticizes the team or its effort again.