Danny Ainge’s Legacy Is Riding On The Moves He Made This Offseason.
With 18 days left until the Celtics tip-off against the Cleveland Cavaliers, I wanted to write a blog to recap the moves Danny made this offseason. Everyone by now knows the moves that were made and the players involved, but the risks Danny took with these moves have been largely missing from the conversation. To this point, Danny has been known for “winning trades” and rightfully so. Over the course of his tenure, he has brought in the likes of Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Isaiah Thomas, and Jae Crowder by doing just that. Although the city is buzzing about the moves he made this year, the jury is still out as to whether or not he “won” the trades. Let’s take a look at this year’s moves through the lens of either winning or losing the trade.
Trade: 1st Overall Pick for 3rd Overall Pick (Philadelphia) & Protected 1st Round Pick
Winning Scenario: Jayson Tatum proves he was the best player in the draft and Danny looks like a genius for trading down. The Celtics get the Lakers pick (2-5) in the 2018 draft which is stacked.
Losing Scenario: Markelle Fultz is the best player in the 2017 draft like everyone projected and turns in a superstar for the next 10 years. To pour salt on the wounds, Fultz will play in the same division as the Celtics. The Lakers get the #1 overall pick in next year’s draft. This would leave the Celtics with either the Philly or Sacremento pick in 2019 missing out on the likes of Michael Porter Jr, Luka Doncic, and Marvin Bagley III.
Trade: Avery Bradley for Marcus Morris (Detroit) & Gordon Hayward (FA) signing
(Avery Bradley was traded to clear $3 million worth of cap space to help bring in Gordon Hayward on a max deal.)
Winning Scenario: Marcus Morris fits into the Celtics brand of basketball. He continues to play tough defense and improves his 3 point shooting. Gordon Hayward brings the type of offensive versatility that the Celtics have been missing since Paul Pierce left. Marcus Smart steps up to fill the void left by AB on the defensive end.
Losing Scenario: AB stays healthy and becomes a top 5 shooting guard. Kyrie himself admitted last year that AB was the best on-ball defender in the Association. This trade actually cut me deep because we have seen Bradley improve every year, and he was finally meeting potential.
Trade: Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and 2018 Brooklyn Pick for Kyrie Irving (CLE)
Winning Scenario: Kyrie rises up to the pressure he has put on himself. He asked to be traded from a team that was in The Finals last year and has LeBron James. That comes with expectations he will have to rise above. Brooklyn plays better this year with DeAngelo Russell and drops to a higher lottery pick or out of the lottery altogether. The injury concerns the Celtics had for Isaiah continue.
Losing Scenario: Kyrie doesn’t get the Celtics over the hump for a banner during his stay in Boston. The Brooklyn pick turns into a top 5 selection for Cleveland, and Celtics fans have to deal with Michael Porter Jr. dropping buckets on them for the next 10-15 years. IT comes back from injury with an even bigger chip on his shoulder. The part that I think will hurt me the most is IT being on the Cavs. It will be hard to root against him.
The idea of “winning a trade” is revisionist history, but that’s how sports culture judges its executives. Danny made the right moves this offseason to make the team better, but that doesn’t mean people will remember it that way in 10 years. He also took a lot of risks in the deals he made this offseason, and they were all made within the Eastern Conference so if they don’t work out fans will be reminded of that nightly. It will all come down to how many more banners are hanging because of the 2017 offseason.