The Boston Celtics were right on the cusp of greatness. Ever since Danny Ainge took over, the Celtics have found themselves in contention. During his tenure, the C’s have won a title and been to another NBA Finals. Great strides but all is not well.
You see, those teams were constructed over 10 years ago and now, what has Ainge actually accomplished since? His biggest move was robbing the Brooklyn Nets of players and draft picks in what many consider the worst trade in NBA history for the Nets. But was it really?
Even with those draft picks at his disposal, Ainge has done nothing spectacular. The Celtics remain one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference but have yet to reach another NBA Final since the departure of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo. Things like this happen, but it’s not supposed to happen to GM wonder-kid, Ainge.
While many believe that Ainge is one of the best in the business, his track record will prove otherwise.
Danny Ainge continues to garner respect for that Nets trade but a closer look will reveal, he got played in that deal. The last few seasons, Ainge has been stacked with lottery-bound draft picks to help round out a highly competitive roster. And yet, they enter each offseason scratching their heads trying to figure where it went wrong.
With a young core in 2o16-17, the Celtics reached the Eastern Conference Finals only to watch Ainge break the team up then do the unthinkable. With leader scorer Isiah Thomas traded, Ainge went looking for a big names to add and walked away with Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward On paper, it looked good, but Irving, after being a part of in three straight Finals was labeled as a crybaby and team chemistry killer after saying he wanted out of Cleveland so he can be his own man. How didn’t Ainge not see the red flags there? And to be fair, he didn’t see the Hayward injury happening but it did and his first season was a wasted one
But with Kyrie and Horford leading the charge, the Celtics were picked to represent the East in the Finals even with LeBron James still doing his thing in Cleveland. But it happened again. The one thing Ainge decided to ignore about Irving
Irving went down in the playoffs and the Celtics were forced to rely on Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Tatum, and Horford. With that lineup, the Celtics advanced to the ECF and rumors of Kyrie leaving for the New York Knicks began. Why wasn’t Ainge paying attention then?
Fast forward to this past season and the Ainge nonsense kept growing. There were rumblings of issues in the locker room. Irving never gave a clear indication that he wanted to stay. Players were upset that Hayward was being paid a King’s ransom and not producing and the same role players that led them to the ECF, was getting the short end of the stick. The GM kept looking the other way.
The Boston Celtics lost their hold on the East to the Toronto Raptors, Milwaukee Bucks, and Philadelphia 76ers. The trade deadline came, and Ainge stood still. His goal was to create a package to entice the New Orleans Pelicans to send Anthony Davis to Boston and was ready to pull a Lakers move and auction off their future. Not smart.
This offseason is where Danny Ainge proved how clueless he really is. With Irving set to leave, Ainge should have given the keys to the team to Rozier but he balked, traded Rozier for Kemba Walker, then let Horford bolt to the 76ers. Walker is good, but he’s not the player the Celtics need to get over the top. He’s a scorer in a PGs body just like Irving. No major upgrade there.
Letting Horford go will prove to be vital as well even with the signing of Enes Kanter. Despite their success, the Celtics are in need of veteran leadership on and off the court. Horford is a solid guy but Ainge showing no faith in his team puts players in a difficult position. How can a GM with his knowledge of the game and winning be that blind when it comes to building a foundation?
Just two seasons ago, the Celtics were being talked about as the next dynasty. Now, they’re scrambling for answers and Ainge is the main problem. He’s making moves as if the walls are closing in on him. He’s made enough trades over the years to have an abundance of high-quality young players but he keeps paying these high-profile players in free agency that amounts to nothing.
At some point, Danny Ainge has to remember where he came from and how he got there. Yes, the game and bargaining have changed but winning tactics still remain the same.
Is Danny Ainge the worst GM in the NBA? Yes. Some will balk at that statement considering what the Knicks (Scott Perry), Washington Wizards (Interim), and other mediocre franchises have done or not done. But with Ainge, he has the tools, a winning team and still has not met expectations.
Ainge is smart but some of his choices debunk that notion. It’s like he wins the Mega Millions then spends the entire winnings on more lottery tickets and loses. He’s too smart for his own good. That’s the reason why he’s the worst GM in the NBA. Other guys are saddled with owners with tight pockets, no love for the game and think adding J.R. Smith is the best basketball decisions for their franchise. Ainge is different and yet he makes the same silly mistakes lesser GMs make.
At some point, he has to own up to his mistakes, hit the drawing board and start over. Until then, all these moves are for nothing if lesser GMs are doing the same.