Signing Mike Conley to a five-year, $45 million contract extension is akin to spending $150 on a hot dog. Or $100 on a single gallon of gas. Or $1,000 on a new pair of Nike cross-trainers. Or $5,000 on an iPod. Or $300,000 on a used Toyota Corrola. Ahh, don’t stop me now! I’m just getting started!
It’s one of the most inconceivable contracts in professional sports history and the latest reason the owners should have severe difficulties getting the players’ union to agree to any salary cuts. Five years and $45 million to a mediocre (at best) point guard who has never had a single impressive NBA season? From a team that supposedly lost enough money last year to be considered for contraction? Call this the Michael Heisley Effect, or the Chris Wallace Effect, or just plain stupid… or simply thank your lucky stars that the men who run the Memphis Grizzlies don’t also run your favorite team.
That’s what I’m doing. I woke up to a tweet, “Mike Conley, $45 million” and — in the words of Jason Whitlock — I cackled, rolled a blunt and made a mental note to write Danny Ainge a thank-you letter. Conley signed for $45 million in an NBA economy that pays Rajon Rondo only $55 million. In other terms, for the amount of money the Griz will spend on Conley each of the next five years, Ainge signed Delonte West, Shaquille O’Neal, Nate Robinson and Marquis Daniels. Yeah, that’s right. All of them.
So here it is, my thank-you note.
Dear Danny Ainge,
Thank you for keeping the Celtics’ core together. I don’t know what the Celtics would have looked like if you’d traded Ray Allen last season, but I’m glad the Big Three stayed intact.
Thank you for trading Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes and a bunch of scrubs for Kevin Garnett. That trade won us a championship. I say “us” like I’m on the team, which of course I know I’m not, but I sure felt like I was while I watched the 38-point Game 6 smackdown. But the Celtics (I stopped myself from saying we) wouldn’t have won a championship without Ray Allen. So I thank you for that trade, too.
Thank you for replenishing the C’s bench this offseason. Even if it was with a bunch of loose cannons. With their age, the C’s needed some depth. Badly.
Thank you for keeping Doc Rivers around. Not this year, which I assume was his decision alone, but three years ago, when the Big Three first joined together. We fans didn’t know it back then (as we clamored for Doc’s firing), but he’s the perfect coach for this crew. At the time, Danny, I figure you were the only person who saw that.
Thank you for signing Scal. Okay, maybe the big redhead didn’t deserve $15 million (or anything close to it). But the Scal Era was enjoyable, no?
Thank you for swindling Rajon Rondo’s agent. (Who should absolutely be fired for Rondo’s current contract.) If Rondo had gone to the open market, he would have drawn a max contract. Instead, the Celtics kept him for a bi-annual exception more than Conley money. That was robbery, Danny. You should be in jail.
Thank you for drafting serviceable (at least) players in the second round. When one man finds Ryan Gomes, Glen Davis, Leon Powe, Bill Walker, Semih Erden and Gabe Pruitt, all in the second round, it can’t be called lucky. Okay, I kid about Pruitt. But all those other guys should have long, productive careers. And you found them, Danny.
Most importantly, thank you for taking over the GM position from Chris Wallace. Just think about it, Danny. If Wallace were still in Boston, none of this would have happened. Instead of building a title contender in Boston like you did, Danny, Wallace would have been busy offering puke-worthy, five year, $45 million contracts to mediocre players. Or trading for alcoholics with max contracts (I’m looking at you, Vin Baker).
So thank you, Danny Ainge. From the bottom of my heart. Celtics fans everywhere should thank you for their contender, maybe more so than they should thank anybody else.
Jay King and the Celtics Town community