Boston Celtics GM Danny Ainge is one of the most savvy front-office executives in the NBA. He’s also the guy you shouldn’t believe.
Not even 24 hours after the news came out Gordon Hayward would sign with the Celtics, GM Danny Ainge has already moved on to his next big move. There were reports the Celtics are interested in acquiring Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol.
At first glance, Ainge’s capabilities as a GM are indisputable. He’s leading a team that is both contending and rebuilding and has made the Celtics one of the healthiest organizations in the NBA. But there’s something you need to know about him [puts on tinfoil hat]: He’s a master of illusion. A man riding the LeBron-James-is-too-dominant vehicle to trick you into thinking the Celtics don’t have to make any big moves. You can’t get criticized if you’re constantly presenting the image that you’re doing everything in your power to make your team better. And you can’t fall flat on your face if you don’t jump. As Kevin Spacey once said in The Usual Suspects: The greatest trick Danny Ainge ever pulled was convincing the world he was negotiating trades for superstars.
Ainge’s constant throwing of his name into news has left him regarded as one of the savviest and most active executives in the all of North American sports, let alone the NBA. That is on the surface. That is unless you’re interested in the truth. I’m interested in the truth. (And I’m interested in having a little fun with one of the league’s best execs.) And the truth is for every one move Danny Ainge has made, there have been two or three he’s almost made. And it’s those moves that are the true image of Danny Ainge. He’s Melisandre without the glamour. It’s time you open your eyes.
Here are the five best moves Ainge has ALMOST made.
Honorable Mention: Danny Ainge almost trades for Chris Paul
There’s a formula for any Ainge almost-deal, and it usually entails two things: Looking good after-the-fact and opening up about a potential move well after the move wasn’t made. Sometimes that comes after days, weeks, years or, in this particular case, almost a decade later.
In 2013, when Bill Simmons’ podcast was the B.S. Report, Ainge was a guest and revealed, after the 2005 postseason, he almost traded Paul Pierce — who clashed with the Celtics and head coach Doc Rivers — to the New Orleans Hornets for the rights to Chris Paul, a 20-year-old rookie.
The trade fell through, and Pierce was later a cog in the Celtics’ championship run in 2008, but the timing and the state of both players at that point in their careers when the comments were made is textbook Ainge.
Ainge sent Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn in the now legendary Nets trade a few weeks prior to his podcast appearance. As for Paul, he just so happened to become the best point guard of his generation. Funny how things work, huh? Ainge was so far ahead of the curve on Paul, he was willing to give up his franchise’s best talent in the middle of his prime to take a chance on a rookie who hadn’t played a single minute in the NBA. Ah, hindsight, I love ya!