Stephen A. Smith calls out Celtics’ Danny Ainge for his failures as GM
The Boston Celtics’ dynasty never materialized in 2018-19. And with both Kyrie Irving and Al Horford poised to leave the team in free agency, Boston suddenly finds itself not only lacking realistic championship hopes next season, but on the precipice of prioritizing the future at the expense of the present.
There are many reasons why the Celtics failed to live up to sky-high expectations last season, and just as many why they’re suddenly on the verge of being forced into rebuilding. Obviously, most of them had little to do with general manager Danny Ainge, but don’t tell that to Stephen A. Smith.
On Wednesday’s edition of First Take, the bombastic ESPN personality criticized Ainge for his supposed failure to bring in a superstar after years of hoarding assets.
“They’re falling apart at the seams, and it’s time we say something that we haven’t said,” Smith said of the Celtics. “I keep bringing up the name Gordon Hayward and what has transpired, but I’m gonna go a step further than that… You know who needs to be brought in to the eye of the storm? Mr. Danny Ainge. Enough’s enough. We respect Danny Ainge. We respect the job that he has done – it is undeniable. But it’s also time that we highlight what he hasn’t been able to do.
“He was reluctant, highly reluctant, to pull a trigger and to get a deal. He had the assets; he could have gotten a big-time player. Tell me when a championship has been won without a star.”
Ainge, of course, was lauded across the league for acquiring Kyrie Irving before the start of the 2017-18 season. He also brought in Gordon Hayward that summer, Al Horford the previous July, and has done exceedingly well to draft the likes of Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, and Jayson Tatum. Boston had stars over the last two seasons, but injuries and chemistry concerns got in the way of their success.
Should Ainge have traded for Paul George or Kawhi Leonard rather than be content with a veteran core of Irving, Hayward, and Horford? It’s certainly easy to say now, but this time last year, many believed the Celtics were at the earliest stages of a decade of championship contention.