The “R” word is seen as a curse word in most sports circles. No one wants to hear or have any part in it. It’s a death sentence that usually implies toiling in mediocrity for several seasons. It’s a necessary evil though when experiencing major roster overhaul. Some GMs can’t handle the careful decision making it requires to go through one and make countless draft mistakes, or overpay free agents, etc… Danny Ainge is proving once again that he is not one of those few.
In 07 he transformed one of the league’s worst bottom feeders into NBA Champions overnight. He oversaw the blissful return of winning basketball back to the NBA’s most successful franchise. All of which would not have been possible without his hoarding of assets and accruing of draft picks.
Being a General Manager or President of operations in his position is most likely the most thankless Front Office job outside of the scouting department. Every dollar handed out to a free agent is met with criticism, every pick in the draft is questioned while simultaneously fans are calling for your head on a spike. Thus is why right now we should be praising Ainge for his seemingly wonderful job this summer.
I’ve never been a huge fan of Ainge to be completely honest. I’ve shredded him to pieces for letting guys like Jermaine O’Neal and Jason Terry basically steal money from the organization with sloppy and/or non existent play. I’ve belittled his knowledge for wasting draft picks on guys like Fab Melo. Though with each misstep it seems as though he bounces back with an equal breakthrough. Trading Perk for Jeff, drafting Rondo/Avery/Sully were all great successes. Even though every decision is not solely on him and the praise/blame should be equally distributed.
There are so many routes he could have taken to replenish the Celtics, so many choices and while it may not have been the popular decision I’m of the opinion that he chose the right one. Flipping Doc for a future unprotected pick in 2015, then going out and hiring Brad Stevens was a risky but shrewd move. Trading away Pierce & Garnett to Brooklyn was worse than being kicked in the balls from a fan’s perspective, though from an outside view it was both logical and sensible.
Would it have been great if Paul & KG both retired as Celtics? Obviously yes, but was it worth wasting away the prime years of the best player on the team because of sentimentality? In the end probably not. Managing to get 3 unprotected 1st round picks in this era is almost unheard of in of itself, let alone getting those picks for a head coach and two out of their prime players. Fan appeasement is obviously important to the higher ups in the organization. Though Ainge isn’t looking to be your best friend and appease your every want and desire. The NBA is a business and it’s Ainge’s job to do what’s best for the franchise and to make logical decisions that would serve the Celtics for the best, I believe he’s done just that.