Celtics

Ainge Has Respectable, But Reluctant Track Record

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Although he hasn’t touched the court in Boston since 1989, Danny Ainge remains an integral piece of the Boston Celtics.

Like any other NBA General Manager, Ainge looks to build a championship team in Boston every season. But he fails to construct a roster good enough to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy year after year. With ample assets, Danny should have an easier time than others when it comes to making moves to improve the roster.

Multiple opportunities have rose up for Ainge to make a splash in recent years. However, he hesitated or declined to make the move that benefited an opponent. Last season, he missed out on an opportunity to acquire Clint Capela or Andre Drummond at the deadline.

This year, it’s uncertain if he plans on making a move before Thursday’s trade deadline, too.

A trade for one of the big men or another good player would not have been out of reach. Boston owned the Brooklyn Nets’ draft picks for numerous years while having sought-after youngsters on the roster. Even with a wide array of assets and interested suitors, Ainge did not make a move. This year, he has a league-record TPE to work with that should have other GM’s intrigued.

Instead of using the draft picks in a trade, he selected young pieces in the draft. Obviously, he struck gold with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. On the other hand, he has swung and missed.

Likewise, Ainge seems to have an eye for what positions are needed for his team, but he always targets the wrong players. The Jeff Teague signing fit the need for a backup point guard after the departure of Brad Wanamaker, but adding a point guard like Kris Dunn made more sense.

Despite his shortcomings as a GM, Ainge acknowledges his work this season is not sufficient enough to win the NBA Finals. He came out earlier this season and said the roster is not a championship team. With that, the stakes are higher than ever for Ainge to bring key pieces to Boston.

DRAFTING

Early on, Danny Ainge made good selections in the draft. Gerald Green, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart all proved to be good selections.

But he has his fair share of whiffs on Draft Night, too. In 2014, he selected James Young with the 17th overall pick over Capela, Gary Harris, and Bogdan Bogdanovic.

In 2016, Ainge selected Guerschon Yabusele 16th overall instead of Pascal Siakam, Caris LeVert, and Dejounte Murray. It is fair to say no GM is perfect and will make every correct selection, but these selections may have altered the trajectory of the franchise.

With the Brooklyn’s picks at his disposal, Ainge could have definitely traded up to select a better player.

FREE AGENCY

In his most recent big splash, Ainge went out and signed Gordon Hayward. Last season, he added Tristan Thompson and Jeff Teague. They all proved to be solid additions to the team. Also, his acquisitions of Al Horford and Greg Monroe proved to be vital toward the success of the team. When he goes after players in free agency, Ainge has the right idea but the concern with him is the money on the contracts.

The Horford signing had been huge for Boston at the time, but the four-year/$113 million deal did not pan out toward the end due to his age. An additional issue with Ainge is that he can get the big names, but not at the best price point. Hayward’s contract seemed decent, but the former Butler star never returned to his Utah Jazz form — in Boston at least — after his injury.

TRADES

Out of all the responsibilities of being a GM, Danny Ainge may be best at trading. Although he may not be as active on the block than the past, his moves always work out in the C’s favor.

Historically, Ainge and the Celtics end up on the winning side of blockbuster deals. Of course, the deal with Brooklyn in 2013 changed the trajectory of the franchise forever. The draft picks received in the trade helped convey into future stars and pieces in separate deals.

In 2017, Danny made a splash for Kyrie Irving after a monumental trade with Cleveland. Two years later, Ainge welcomed Kemba Walker to the Celtics with a sign-and-trade for the Charlotte Hornets. Both these players made big impacts and contributed toward the success of the franchise.

A move that may be overlooked, Ainge traded down in the 2017 NBA Draft and selected Tatum while gaining another first-round selection. Making this move allowed Danny to select the player he wanted all along, also adding draft capital to his stockpile.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Both fans of the Celtics and other teams around the league know how good of a GM Ainge is. His main strength is trading — especially for future draft assets — but he does not seem to be as aggressive compared to years’ past. Especially with the TPE and the talent at his disposal, Danny needs to make a move to push Boston into the contender tier.

From a draft aspect, he could improve his selection of players. His personnel knowledge is adequate, but he targets the wrong players. This year’s draft shows a good example of his flaws. He knew selecting Aaron Nesmith with the 14th overall pick fit a need, but there were better players that also fit the niche. Picking Tyrese Maxey or Saddiq Bey would have had a better impact for Boston.

Danny Ainge still operates as an above-average GM, but fans may be disappointed in his actions because they know what he is capable of. They have seen his moves in the past and hope he replicates those acquisitions to help remedy the roster’s needs. With the NBA Trade Deadline quickly approaching, Celtics fans everywhere hope Ainge takes a shot before the clock hits zero.

Follow us on Twitter @CelticsLead for the latest Celtics news and insight. 

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