Over the next month, we’ll chronicle the 25 most consequential trades of Danny Ainge’s tenure as Celtics president of basketball operations. When we’re done, we’ll have a better understanding of Ainge’s philosophy and success rate on the trade market. Perhaps by the end of this exercise we’ll even feel better about the future of this rebuild. At the very least, we’ll have something interesting to debate while we wait for training camp to open.

With that out of the way, here’s No. 13 on the list of Danny Ainge’s 25 most consequential trades.

June 28, 2006: Hello, Leon Powe.

ARRIVING in Boston

  • Denver’€™s 2006 second-round pick (Leon Powe): Plagued by knee injuries that began in college, the sculpted but undersized big man lasted just three seasons in Boston, but boy did he make them count. His averages per 36 minutes were somewhat staggering: 16.3 points and 10.3 rebounds. His 62.9 true shooting percentage and 20.9 player efficiency rating in 2007-08 both would have led the Celtics this past season. And of course there was Game 2 of the 2008 NBA Finals, when he scored 21 points in 15 minutes off the bench, delivering a 2-0 series lead and causing a confused Phil Jackson to mispronounce his name as “Leon Pow.”


  • Golden State’€™s 2007 second-round pick (Aaron Gray): Having acquired this pick for an aging Walter McCarty, the Celtics may not have been disappointed had they stood pat and drafted Gray at No. 49 in 2007 — the same spot they landed Powe a year earlier. Because he’s 7 feet tall, Gray squeezed seven NBA seasons from limited talent before retiring this summer due to a blood clot. He never played for the Nuggets, though, since they traded this pick along with another 2007 second-rounder and Howard Eisley to the Bulls for J.R. Smith on July 20, 2006 — six days after Chicago acquired Smith and P.J. Brown from the Hornets for Tyson Chandler (as John Paxson attempted to rival the stupidity of his brother Jim trading a first-round pick for Jiri Welsch).

Powe was an afterthought on the night of the 2006 NBA draft, when Ainge essentially traded his No. 7 overall pick for Sebastian Telfair, and then acquired the rights to another point guard by the name of Rajon Rondo 14 picks later.

But the Oakland kid who didn’t let being homeless prevent him from becoming a top-10 high school recruit quickly introduced himself to Boston, collecting 10 points, seven boards and a pair of blocks during his NBA debut. Still, his rookie season was a mixed bag of success and disappointment, epitomized by his only two starts of 2006-07 — a 10-point, nine-rebound effort one night and a three-minute stint before being benched the following game.

Remember, this was a Celtics squad that had just lost 18 straight, and that’s a difficult environment for anybody to flourish, let alone a second-round pick with an uncertain future. Powe was one of several young Celtics who benefited from Kevin Garnett‘s example and a culture change in the locker room that established losing as unacceptable. His 7.9 points and 4.1 rebounds a night helped solidify the depth on one of the most dominant regular-season teams in NBA history, and then there was Game 2 of the NBA Finals. We will always have Game 2. Leon Pow, forever.

While Gray evolved into a journeyman backup center who made four times as many millions in his career, he never enjoyed a single season as productive as Powe’s 2007-08 (or 2008-09, for that matter), so the talent evaluators in Ainge’s administration deserve credit for identifying Powe as a player worth a trade into the second round.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

Over the next month, we’ll chronicle the 25 most consequential trades of Danny Ainge’s tenure as Celtics president of basketball operations. When we’re done, we’ll have a better understanding of Ainge’s philosophy and success rate on the trade market. Perhaps by the end of this exercise we’ll even feel better about the future of this rebuild. At the very least, we’ll have something interesting to debate while we wait for training camp to open.

With that out of the way, here’s No. 14 on the list of Danny Ainge’s 25 most consequential trades.

Feb. 24, 2005: Goodbye, Jiri Welsch.

ARRIVING in Boston

  • Cleveland’€™s 2007 first-round pick (Rudy Fernandez): Rudy Fernandez is Jiri Welsch. Jiri Welsch is Rudy Fernandez. The two Europeans produced nearly identical statistics during their short-lived NBA careers. Except, Fernandez never played for the Celtics, since Ainge swapped this first-round pick for one from the Suns in 2006, when the C’s selected a Kentucky sophomore by the name of Rajon Rondo with the No. 21 overall pick.

DEPARTING to Cleveland

  • Jiri Welsch: I kinda liked Jiri Welsch when he was here. Thrown into the swap of Antoine Walker for Raef LaFrentz in October 2003, the Czech wing averaged a respectable 12.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.5 steals per 36 minutes while shooting 36.1 percent from 3-point range over his 136 games in Boston, including 100 starts. But it was readily apparent he wasn’t long for the NBA, especially on defense, as he lost his starting role to a rookie named Tony Allen. Well, apparent to everyone but Cavaliers GM Jim Paxson, I guess.

Within 16 months, Ainge had turned Jiri Welsch into Rajon Rondo, only paying the $1.8 million left on Brian Grant’s contract as collateral. It was a remarkable return for a guy who would play just 74 more NBA games in his career.

Meanwhile, the Cavaliers managed to turn their 2007 first-round pick into a mid-second-round selection within four months, trading Welsch on draft day for the right to select Martynas Andriuskevicius at No. 44 overall in 2005.

Presumably acquired to help a Cavs squad struggling from the perimeter make the playoffs, Welsch shot 28.6 percent from distance in Cleveland, averaging just 12 minutes in 16 appearances. Despite LeBron James averaging 27.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.2 assists in his second NBA season, which is ridiculous, the Cavaliers missed the playoffs.

The same guy Paxson pegged as worth a first-round pick at the trade deadline returned nothing more than the 44th pick by draft day. That’s horrendous. And it gets worse: Andriuskevicius played all of nine minutes in his NBA career.

From Boston’s perspective, this sequence again represented the perfect combination of knowing the limitations of their own players, understanding the value of a first-round pick and then identifying talent in the draft, completing the circle. The only downside is that the deal was the last of Paxson’s general managing career, as he was fired in April 2005 — two months before the Cavs dumped Welsch — leaving Ainge with one fewer front office on which to prey.

In Paxson’s defense, Welsch is still playing basketball. He averaged 9.3 points and 4.1 assists in 21.1 minutes a night for a CEZ Basketball Nymburk squad that has won 12 straight Czech Republic National Basketball League titles.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

Celtics forward Kelly Olynyk, playing for the Canadian national team in the Tuto Marchand Cup, left Sunday’s game after being hit on the left knee while setting a pick against Argentina.

Celtics forward Kelly Olynyk, playing for the Canadian national team in the Tuto Marchand Cup, left Sunday’s game after being hit on the left knee while setting a pick against Argentina.

According to the Toronto Sun, “Canada got a major scare when starter Kelly Olynyk, of the Boston Celtics, went down in a heap clutching his left knee after getting run over by an opponent who had no desire to fight through the screen the Canadian was setting.
Olynyk limped off and went briefly to the back, but returned to the bench quickly, sitting out the rest of the game.”

The team did not provide an immediate update on Olynyk’s condition.

Olynyk had played 15 minutes, recording eight points and three rebounds, in Canada’s 85-80 victory. The tournament is a lead-up to next week’s FIBA Americas Olympic qualifying tournament.

Olynyk averaged 10.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks last season, his second in the NBA.

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar

Over the next month, we’ll chronicle the 25 most consequential trades of Danny Ainge’s tenure as Celtics president of basketball operations. When we’re done, we’ll have a better understanding of Ainge’s philosophy and success rate on the trade market. Perhaps by the end of this exercise we’ll even feel better about the future of this rebuild. At the very least, we’ll have something interesting to debate while we wait for training camp to open.

With that out of the way, here’s No. 15 on the list of Danny Ainge’s 25 most consequential trades.

Jan. 26, 2006: Hello, Wally Szczerbiak.

ARRIVING in Boston

  • Dwayne Jones: Signed by the Timberwolves as an undrafted free agent after failing to make the Celtics in training camp and joining the D-League’s Florida Flame, Jones was working on a base salary of less than $400,000, played 87 garbage minutes for the C’s and was traded to Cleveland for cash by October.
  • Michael Olowokandi: One of the worst No. 1 overall picks in NBA history, the Kandi Man had two months left on his three-year, $16.2 million contract in Minnesota. Despite an unproductive 16 appearances for the Celtics to finish out the season, he earned a veteran minimum deal the next season, and was even more unproductive.
  • Wally Szczerbiak: A 28-year-old Szczerbiak was in the third season of a six-year, $63 million contract extension when he was dealt from a team that reached the Western Conference finals in 2004. While he achieved All-Star status at age 24 and was averaging 20.1 points at the time of the trade, his medical history included a left knee that was borderline “bone on bone” and required surgery at season’s end. Injuries cost him 50 games the following season, and Ainge still managed to package the two years left on his deal in the trade for Ray Allen in June 2007.
  • Minnesota’€™s 2009 first-round pick (Jonny Flynn): Keeping this pick and drafting Stephen Curry at No. 6 overall wouldn’t have been the worst thing, but instead Ainge used it as a centerpiece of the Kevin Garnett trade, dealing the pick back to Minnesota in exchange for one of the greatest players to ever play the game, which turned out OK, I guess. Either way, scoring a high lottery pick for the pu pu platter below is highway robbery.

DEPARTING to Minneapolis

  • Marcus Banks: Eight NBA seasons as an occasionally effective backup point guard isn’t the worst career a No. 13 overall pick has ever had, but two-plus years into his Celtics career it was fairly clear — at least to Ainge — that he was never going to amount to more than that. The Timberwolves, Suns, Heat and Raptors eventually learned, too.
  • Mark Blount: The starting center on a Celtics team that was swept in the first round of the 2004 NBA playoffs, Blount averaged 10.3 points and 7.2 rebounds that season, earning a six-year, $38.5 million contract extension and inspiring the greatest song ever written. That would be like the Celtics signing Tyler Zeller to a six-year, $48.6 million deal now. Quite the commitment. A little more than two years later, Ainge was fortunate to find a taker for the remaining three-plus seasons of a 30-year-old working with limited skills on the downside of his career.
  • Ricky Davis: We already covered the wonderfully comical C’s career of Ricky Davis when discussing his arrival earlier this season — basically a self-realized fan club supporting two seasons of wildly inefficient basketball. And the Timberwolves were kind enough to assume the final two-plus seasons of his six-year, $34 million contract.
  • Justin Reed: Well on his way to playing himself out of the league by the end of the 2006-07 NBA season, the C’s 2004 second-round pick was scheduled to become a restricted free agent in two months, so of course the Timberwolves rewarded him with a three-year, $4.3 million contract in 2006 before dumping him a year later.
  • Boston’€™s 2006 second-round pick (Craig Smith): The former Boston College star enjoyed three relatively productive seasons in Minnesota, but his NBA career never took off for the very reasons he fell to the second round — his 6-foot-7 frame and limited range made him an awkward fit at the power forward position.
  • Miami’€™s 2008 second-round pick (Nikola Pekovic): Neither Boston nor Minnesota could have foreseen this pick becoming the best part of this trade from the T-Wolves’ perspective. The Heat won the 2006 championship, but owned the league’s worst record two years later, and Minny ended up with the first pick of the second round as a result. Sure, it’d be nice to have Pekovic in Boston now, but he didn’t make his NBA debut for another four and a half years after the trade, and the Celtics didn’t seem to miss him much during their own title run in 2008.

This trade came just before the league’s advanced statistical boom, when both Daryl Morey and Mike Zarren were working in the front office and the Celtics could prey upon a team like the Timberwolves and a general manager like Kevin McHale, convincing Ainge’s former teammate that Blount and Davis were valuable commodities in the NBA.

Ainge would be hard-pressed to find a GM today that would sign off on a trade that brought the best player in the deal (Szczerbiak), savings of $5.26 million in future salaries and an unprotected lottery pick to Boston. For as much as people complain about McHale helping Ainge out in the Garnett trade, Wolves fans should be more upset about this transaction. At least the KG deal returned Al Jefferson and a pair of first-round picks, albeit one of which they gave away here and should’ve been used to draft Curry, but still — at least there McHale could hang his hat on something.

This trade left Minnesota with a few overpaid players and a pair of second-round picks. Thankfully, for McHale’s sake, one turned into Nik Pekovic. Meanwhile, Ainge acquired two central pieces in his deals for Allen and Garnett 18 months later, saving $5 million in the process. It was a shining example of one team understanding the value (or lack thereof) of lottery picks, salary cap structure and empty statistics before the rest of the league — or at least Minnesota — caught up.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

Will Jared Sullinger and James Young have a sing-off to see who goes home? (Getty Images)

Celtics coach Brad Stevens joined Merloni and Fauria on Wednesday as part of the Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon to talk about basketball and his connection to cancer research. To hear the interview, go to the Merloni and Fauria audio on demand page.

Stevens said he has a strong connection to cancer research because his wife, Tracy, lost her mother to cancer in 2004. Since then, the two of them have tried to be active supporters. While at Butler, Stevens said he and the team used to run tournaments that would bring in corporate teams to play and help raise money for the local American Cancer Society. Now, he and his wife have been able to tour Dana-Farber and learn more about the Jimmy Fund to get involved in both the patient care and research standpoints.

“The negative connotation of cancer has always been there, but it was really negative 15 years ago,” Stevens said. “I think we all now have learned so much, and the awareness is so high, and we’ve all invested in this fight against cancer for whatever organizations you’re working with that there’s also a positive outlook on competing against it, beating it and then living your life after it.”

Stevens said that when his players do hospital visits and see sick patients, the idea is that seeing one of the Celtics could brighten someone’s day, but it does twice as much for theirs.

“I think that that’s the same no matter who’s ever done anything or given anything back to the community,” he said. “You always feel like you got a lot more in return just from spending time with those patients, seeing how resilient they are, seeing how tough they are, all ages. But certainly the pediatric patients are the ones that certainly pull at the heartstrings, seeing young kids having to go through it. We’ve been affected by that in our family very closely, and the one thing I’ll always say about young kids, man, they’re a resilient, resilient group, and it’s the ultimate example of toughness. We throw around words like toughness pretty regularly in a team sport or a sport that’s covered closely. That’s not real compared to what these guys are going through.”

While Stevens stressed that you realize “how little importance sports are when you’re talking about [cancer and sickness],” he did talk about the Celtics some. He detailed what he’s seen from rookies Jordan Mickey, Terry Rozier and R.J. Hunter so far this summer.

Mickey, Stevens said, has really impressed him. Though he’s not the typical height of a power forward or center, the second-round pick has the length, quickness and timing to be really good. Rozier has come in and showcased an elite level of toughness, athleticism and drive that Stevens said he thinks will make him excel. Hunter was anxious the first two games of the summer, according to Stevens, so much so that it looked as if he was playing in Game 3 or 4 of the Finals but settled down after and did well.

“Those guys are workers,” Stevens said. “They’ll come in, they’ll work, they’ll add to that environment of work that I like the rest of our guys are doing, and so time will tell, but we’re anxious to see.”

Stevens added that he’s not so sure there’s much of a difference in personality between guys at the collegiate level compared to players in the pros.

“I think the biggest thing I would say is most similar between coaching Butler and coaching the Celtics is I’ve coached a ton of prideful guys,” he said. “When I was at Butler, we had competitive, prideful, tough guys. And so any time you have pride then there’s always going to be some times where you’re hurting, or it’s a tougher day to coach, or it’s a tougher day to get going, whatever the case may be, but you always seem to come through that because you’re willing to work, you’re willing to get better.

“I just see across basketball, it doesn’t really matter what level. If guys want to be coached, if guys want to work, then it doesn’t matter if you’re talking about an 8-year-old or you’re talking about a 25-year-old. Those guys come to work, and they’re coachable because they want to get better.”

To prepare for the season, Stevens said the best thing to do is get all of the scheduling out of the way as quickly as possible. He said you have to know how to put the appropriate amount of physical load on your players and also realize when to pull back. When the Celtics’ schedule was released the other day, Stevens said they had the travel schedule done in 12 or 15 hours because it gives him a better feel of the season.

The other thing, according to Stevens, is figuring out how to make the most out of practices in terms of teaching.

“You get a lot less practice time in the pros than you do in college,” he said. “I think we had 56 total practices last year. I do not keep those guys on the floor for three hours at a time, we’re very quick, in and out. We’re trying to be as efficient as we can, so we better have those things planned out well and early in the season, especially in that preseason when those exhibition games and travel come in a flurry. You’ve got to be good in those early days, you’ve got to be really good in those early days.”

Blog Author: 
Judy Cohen

Over the next month, we’ll chronicle the 25 most consequential trades of Danny Ainge’s tenure as Celtics president of basketball operations. When we’re done, we’ll have a better understanding of Ainge’s philosophy and success rate on the trade market. Perhaps by the end of this exercise we’ll even feel better about the future of this rebuild. At the very least, we’ll have something interesting to debate while we wait for training camp to open.

With that out of the way, here’s No. 16 on the list of Danny Ainge’s 25 most consequential trades.

Dec. 12, 2011: Hello, Brandon Bass.

ARRIVING in Boston

  • Brandon Bass: After a knee injury cost him seven games two months into his Celtics career, Bass played 309 straight regular and postseason games until joining the Lakers in free agency this summer. As Valar Morghulis might say, the man is a rock. He averaged 10.6 points and 5.5 rebounds a night during his four seasons in Boston, and you can probably count on one hand the number of games he wasn’t within a point or rebound of those averages. He might as well have carried a lunch pail to the Garden and worn a hard hat on the parquet.

DEPARTING to Orlando

  • Glen Davis: After four seasons as Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett‘s favorite whipping boy, including the 2008 title campaign and 2010 finals run, Davis was recruited to Orlando during free agency by Dwight Howard, who convinced the Magic it would be a good idea to extend a four-year, $25.7 million deal to an overweight and undersized forward with limited range. And while Big Baby’s averages in Orlando (11.6 points and 6.1 rebounds) top Bass’ in Boston, Davis was far less efficient and reliable, did the bulk of his damage on a lottery team and declined to the point the Magic bought out the remaining year and a half on his contract February 2014.
  • Von Wafer: After one season as Delonte West‘s favorite punching bag, including the greatest missed dunk in NBA history, Wafer’s minimum salary helped make the money work in the Davis-for-Bass sign-and-trade and appeared in 33 games for the Magic before returning to a professional basketball career overseas.

Here’s what the Magic got for their four-year, $25.7 million deal with Davis: Two and a half seasons of the NBA’s heaviest player missing 56 percent of his shots and collecting more turnovers (198) than assists (187). Also, fart jokes.

Meanwhile, the Celtics gave Bass a three-year extension following his contributions to the 2012 run to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, including a 27-point effort in a pivotal Game 5 win over the 76ers in the conference semis, paying him $22.6 million over his four seasons in Boston. Again, Bass played 334 of a possible 341 games in Boston; meanwhile, Davis played 145 of a possible 317 games in Orlando. Rock vs. rocking chair, or something like that.

And while Ainge could never find a trade partner at the tail end of Bass’ tenure in Boston, the soft-spoken mound of muscle helped ease the transition from Rivers to Brad Stevens, setting examples for professionalism and work ethic in a one-year rebuild between playoff appearances. Something tells me Big Baby wouldn’t have been so helpful.

In the end, the Celtics squeezed every bit they could from Davis’ 295-pound frame without ever paying him more than $2.5 million annually, and when Orlando’s offer exceeded his value, Ainge turned his former second-round pick into four more years of production with a sign-and-trade for Bass that kept $3.1 million in his pocket. Wins all around.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

I kind of feel bad for Rajon Rondo‘s neighbor in Lincoln, Mass., insofar as you can feel bad for multimillionaires.

Here is this dude, “a thirtysomething Boston businessman” we eventually came to know as “the best neighbor in the world,” who was probably wasting away the summer jamming out to some Jason Mraz tracks and catching up on “Lost” when who but the point guard for the Boston Celtics moves into the $1.82 million home next door on Sept. 2, 2008.

As far as neighbors go, a reigning NBA champion trumps every other potential Lincolnite — accused plagiarist Mike Barnicle, mathematical biologist Martin Nowak and Nobel Laureate Dudley Herschbach just to name a few — especially when it comes to small talk across the hedges. Nobody wants to hear about the time you developed the method of crossed molecular beams, directed and well-defined fluxes of molecules. Everybody loves Kevin Garnett stories.

And thus began a bromance over a shared love of cornhole, which is a sentence that should not be repeated in the presence of children. We’ll let Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins explain in the best profile of Rondo ever written.

Rondo spends most of his free time playing cornhole, a game typically reserved for frat boys at Big Ten tailgate parties. He owns two wooden boards, emblazoned with Kentucky and Louisville logos, which he spaces 27 feet apart in his front yard, according to the official rules. He installed a fire pit so he can play through the winter with his neighbor, a thirtysomething Boston businessman who has become equally consumed with tossing beanbags into circular holes. Rondo is thinking of entering national cornhole tournaments. “I’m ranked Number 1,” he says. He is kidding, but you have to ask to make sure. He does nothing for amusement.

Indeed, Rondo once offered 2 a.m. Twitter proof of a particularly dominant midsummer night cornholing session.

Rajon Rondo wears his sunglasses at night so he can keep track of the visions in his eyes. (Twitter)

Rajon Rondo wears his sunglasses at night, so he can, so he can, keep track of the visions in his eyes. (Twitter)

The bromance lasted almost seven years, survived so many trade rumors, and reached its pinnacle in June 2014, when Rondo called an impromptu press conference to declare his love for Neighbor Dude publicly.

“I don’€™t like change, really, and I’€™m pretty comfortable,” Rondo said while foregoing a max extension from Boston and all but punching his ticket to Dallas. “I have a beautiful home here. I love it. I love it here. I’€™ve got a great neighbor. I’€™ve got the best neighbor in the world, so I don’€™t want to leave.”

Alas, Rondo has moved to Sacramento and put his home on the market. As you may recall from his 2009 faux “Cribs” episode for Red Bull in which he claimed he’d challenge Usain Bolt for Olympic gold in 2012, the home is aptly located at 9 Fridolin Hill in Lincoln, Mass., and comes complete with a barbershop as well as rooms for trophies, weights, film and presumably Connect 4 tournaments. Unfortunately, there is no roller skating rink.

Please tell me he got one last cornhole game in, followed by an extended bro hug and a waving Neighbor Dude fading into his U-Haul’s rearview.

“€œWhen I first toured this home seven years ago, I immediately knew this property had to be mine,” Rondo said in a press release from Coldwell Banker that we can only assume was read by his neighbor as he looked through a rain-soaked window at a barren patch on the lawn with one tear streaming down his cheek. “It is an extraordinary property, and my family and I absolutely loved living there. We especially appreciated being part of the Lincoln community, which was always welcoming and warm to us. This was a very lucky house for me, and I have nothing but fond memories of my time here.”

The asking price for the 6,500-square-foot estate has been lowered from the original $2.45 million to a measly $1.99 million, making it all the more affordable for Lincoln environmentalist Roger Payne to move in and start preserving the skunk population in the neighborhood. Here’s hoping Isaiah Thomas takes the home off Rondo’s hands, so he and Neighbor Dude can order some pizzas and play Spike Ball out back with Floyd Mayweather, 50 Cent and Justin Bieber.

Just pray they get the showers fixed before making an offer. I hear one of the five in that house is particularly slippery.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

Over the next month, we’ll chronicle the 25 most consequential trades of Danny Ainge’s tenure as Celtics president of basketball operations. When we’re done, we’ll have a better understanding of Ainge’s philosophy and success rate on the trade market. Perhaps by the end of this exercise we’ll even feel better about the future of this rebuild. At the very least, we’ll have something interesting to debate while we wait for training camp to open.

With that out of the way, here’s No. 17 on the list of Danny Ainge’s 25 most consequential trades.

Feb. 18, 2010: Hello, Nate Robinson.

ARRIVING in Boston

  • Marcus Landry: The 2013 D-League All-Star played all of one game in his illustrious Celtics career, entering a late February 2010 loss to LeBron JamesCavaliers with 2:50 remaining, missing both of his 3-point attempts and recording nary a statistic. He was soon assigned to the Red Claws before being waived six weeks later.
  • Nate Robinson: Who can forget the famous “Shrek and Donkey” game when Glen Davis and Robinson combined for 30 points off the bench in a 96-89 win over the Lakers that tied the 2010 NBA Finals at two games apiece. That alone made this trade worthwhile, as did his fair share of minutes behind Rajon Rondo.


  • J.R. Giddens: One in a string of questionable late first-round draft picks by Ainge, Giddens played just 140 minutes for the Knicks before calling it an NBA career after 38 total games and taking his game overseas.
  • Eddie House: A beloved member of the title team, if only for his diving save during the Game 7 conference semifinal win over the Cavs, House was approaching his 32nd birthday and had experienced a slight dip in production since the 2007-08 campaign. A free agent at season’s end, the sharpshooter played just one more season on the end of the Heat’s bench during their first of four straight finals runs with LeBron & Co.
  • Bill Walker: The still-contending C’s had little use for a second-round project, so they handed Walker his walking papers after bouncing him between Boston and the D-League for a season and a half. He played well for a stretch in New York, even averaging 22 minutes for the Knicks during a first-round sweep at the hands of the Celtics in 2011. After two more years in the D-League and overseas, Walker found his way back to the NBA, under his middle name Henry, as a wing on the Heat this past season. He was waived by Miami last month.

This certainly wasn’t a big deal, but its layers illustrate how much Ainge & Co. can accomplish with so little.

The Celtics pushed their record to 23-5 on Christmas 2009, but lost 13 of their next 23 games entering trade deadline day 2010. Not wanting to disturb the core of a team that had won the championship two years prior and had its title hopes derailed the previous season by Kevin Garnett‘s knee injury, Ainge was stuck with Giddens, Walker, Shelden Williams, Brian Scalabrine and Lester Hudson as the last five members of his bench. Not exactly an enticing lot.

Meanwhile, Rajon Rondo had just averaged 41 minutes a night in January, as Marquis Daniels was in the midst of missing two months due to injury and a 31-year-old House was splitting time between both guard positions. The C’s had no open roster spots to add a veteran minimum free agent and few tradable assets outside the regular rotation.

There’s a sucker born every minute, and roughly half of them have been general managers for the Knicks, so Ainge turned his focus to New York. The Knickerbockers were well on their way to a 29-win season and had naturally long since traded away their top-10 draft pick (Gordon Hayward) for the right to pay Stephon Marbury $88.1 million from 2004-09. Anywho, GM Donnie Walsh had made his intentions clear about freeing cap space for the summer of 2010.

So, why would Walsh trade Robinson’s $4 million expiring contract and Landry’s non-guaranteed undrafted rookie deal for House’s $2.86 million expiring contract, Giddens’ rookie scale salary (4 years, $5.07 million) and the remaining two-plus seasons on Walker’s four-year, $3.05 million deal? Because they’re the Knicks. (For the record, Walsh used that slightly dwindled cap space to spend $115.5 million on Amar’e Stoudemire and Raymond Felton.)

As much fun as it is to dump on division rivals, enough about the Knicks. With this deal, the Celtics added a viable 25-year-old backup point guard, freed a roster space soon used to sign 37-year-old Michael Finley and saved roughly $100,000 in the process. Not a bad haul for three guys who would no longer be in the league within two seasons.

Robinson was by no means a longterm success in Boston, as his act wore thin in the locker room and he was shipped to Oklahoma City with Kendrick Perkins (a trade we’ll get into in great detail later in this series) within seven months of signing a two-year, $8.7 million extension with the Celtics, but he shot 41.4 percent from 3 down the stretch of the 2009-10 season, helped Rondo keep his legs fresh for the playoff run and served as Donkey to Big Baby’s Shrek.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach