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. 21 on the list of Danny Ainge’s 25 most consequential trades.

Feb. 8, 2005: Goodbye, Walter McCarty.

ARRIVING in Boston

  • Golden State’€™s 2007 second-round pick (Aaron Gray): Phoenix owned this future selection and its own second-rounder. At the time of the trade, the Suns owned a 38-11 record and the Warriors a 13-35 record, so this seemed like a safer bet to be the higher pick. Sure enough, Golden State was slotted 49th in 2007 and Phoenix 59th. By that time, though, Ainge had already swapped this pick in exchange for Denver’s 2006 second-rounder (also 49th) in order to draft a player the Celtics identified as a value pick: Leon Powe.

DEPARTING to Phoenix

  • Walter McCarty: Inarguably the most popular non-star on the late 1990’s/early 2000’s Celtics, McCarty was coming off his two best seasons — averaging 6.9 points (54.1 true shooting percentage), 3.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 24.2 minutes off the bench for a pair of playoff teams — and Tommy Heinsohn’s “I love Waltah” fan club was in full effect. He had also just celebrated his 31st birthday and had one NBA season left in his legs.

The Walter McCarty trade represented the sort of organizational foresight that only well-run franchises see all the way through to the end. The Celtics identified a player had exceeded his worth, even if he was on a veteran minimum contract and remained so beloved that he has since returned as an assistant coach. They recognized the value of a future second-round pick. And they later pinpointed a player whose talent surpassed his late second-round draft slot.

As Celtics assistant general manager Mike Zarren revealed in a 2008 New York Times piece, “Leon Powe‘€™s surprisingly strong play was not so surprising to the Celtics.” Of course, he played a valuable role in the 2008 title run, became a fan favorite and has also since returned to play a role in the team’s business operations department.

In his tenure, Ainge has traded — or tried to trade — every popular Celtics player whose begun the back nine of his career. Antoine Walker‘s departure was as understandable as it was controversial because of his price tag, but the McCarty trade was inexplicable from a green teamer’s perspective. After all, Tommy really did love Waltah.

But sentimentality is a general manager’s enemy, and Ainge’s ability to separate emotion from business has led to some of his most successful transactions, including the Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce trade to the Brooklyn Nets.

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. 22 on the list of Danny Ainge’s 25 most consequential trades.

Dec. 15, 2003: Hello, Ricky Davis.

ARRIVING in Boston

  • Ricky Davis: Nine months removed from the a ludicrous attempt to complete a triple-double, Davis was in the second season of his six-year, $34.1 million deal. The establishment of the Garden’s glorious Get Buckets Brigade and his failed between-the-legs dunk against the Lakers showed little evolution of his game, and he was packaged in a deal that returned Wally Szczerbiak‘s even more cumbersome contract two years later.
  • Chris Mihm: The 7-footer played 54 games in green before earning the distinction of being involved in the last trade between the C’s and Lakers. Boston dealt Mihm, Chucky Atkins and Jumaine Jones to L.A. for Rick Fox, Gary Payton and a first-round pick in August 2004. This marks the first definitive win of Ainge’s trade history.
  • Michael Stewart: He was a throw-in to the trade for Antoine Walker and was out of the league by April 2005.
  • Boston’€™s 2005 second-round pick (Ryan Gomes): The former Providence star’s production during his first two seasons in Boston made him attractive enough to be an asset in Ainge’s 2007 trade for Kevin Garnett.

DEPARTING to Cleveland

  • Tony Battie: The Cavaliers traded Batman to the Magic at season’s end, acquiring two key contributors to their 2007 NBA Finals run (Drew Gooden and Anderson Varejao) in return. Battie signed a four-year, $23 million extension in Orlando, starting all 82 games in 2005-06 before seeing his minutes decline thereafter.
  • Kedrick Brown: One of many horrendous draft picks by the previous regime, the No. 11 overall selection in 2001 played 42 more NBA games over the next 14 months before taking his talents to the D-League and abroad.
  • Eric Williams: A beloved member of the early 2000’s Celtics, he played out the final 50 games of his contract before joining the New Jersey Nets as a free agent. He could never stay healthy and played for four different teams before retiring at age 34 in 2007 and concentrating on his new career as a “Basketball Wives” star.

Ainge traded two assets — Williams’ $5.54 million expiring contract and Battie (who earned Cleveland a greater return just seven months later) — for a long-term commitment to Davis, and then spun that salary cap stranglehold for three years of injury-plagued Szczerbiak’s eight-figure salary. This was not a great example of fiscal responsibility.

The acquisition of Davis was a lesson for the Celtics in the kind of players they no longer covet. The flashy wing was an athletic 20-point scorer, which in the days before analytics were taken seriously was worthy of a long-term lucrative contract. Except, his inefficiency was startling. The year prior in Cleveland, he required 18.6 shots to score his 20.6 points a night, recording a sub-50.0 true shooting percentage (48.5), and collected almost as many turnovers as he did assists — concerning for a player whose usage rate in 2002-03 rivaled Stephen Curry’s this past season.

It’s not wise to net one-dimensional players whose one dimension isn’t all that great as the centerpiece of your trade.

This deal marked one of Ainge’s first orders of business, and thankfully it wasn’t a disaster, as the Celtics made good on the Gomes selection and weren’t saddled with any incoming contracts for too long, eventually picking up a pair of first-round picks while unloading Mihm and Davis on the Lakers and Timberwolves, respectively. In the process, they took an important step toward adopting a philosophy that prioritized advanced statistics over empty ones.

 

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. 23 on the list of Danny Ainge’s 25 most consequential trades.

Feb. 24, 2005: Hello again, Antoine Walker.

ARRIVING in Boston

  • Antoine Walker: Just 14 months after trading Walker for one of the worst contracts in NBA history, Ainge reacquired the former All-Star for a first-round pick and expiring contracts. It was weird. It was also an obvious attempt to make a playoff push in Doc Rivers‘ first season as coach, and it worked. The Celtics won 11 of their first 12 games with Walker back in green, qualified for the playoffs and … of course lost in the first round.

DEPARTING to Atlanta

  • Tom Gugliotta: Good ol’ Googs was just that — old. The one-time NBA All-Star played 20 games in Boston after signing as a free agent at age 35. He lasted 27 more on the Hawks before retiring at season’s end.
  • Gary Payton: Still fairly productive at age 36, The Glove was included for salary-matching purposes and promptly waived by the Hawks. He re-signed with the C’s for the rest of the season a week later, resulting in The Gary Payton Rule requiring players to wait 30 days before re-signing with their previous team. (That time period has since been changed to the remainder of the season in what is called The Zydrunas Ilgauskas Rule.)
  • Michael Stewart: He scored a whopping five points in 71 minutes for the Celtics during the 2003-04 season, did not see the Garden floor the following season and played just 12 more NBA games before calling it a career.
  • Lakers’€™ 2006 first-round pick (Rajon Rondo): While Gugliotta, Payton and Stewart represented a $12.9 million pile of scrap heap material, they were all expiring contracts and thus weren’t a pot that needed much sweetening to unload. But Ainge was fairly liberal with his first-round picks in his early days as GM, and thankfully he was able to get this pick back by way of the Phoenix Suns after sacrificing another first-rounder.

Aug. 2, 2005: Goodbye again, Antoine Walker.

ARRIVING in Boston

  • Curtis Borchardt: It’s perfectly OK if you don’t remember the Borchadt era in Boston. His claim to fame in a Celtics uniform was seven points in seven preseason games before signing overseas in the Spanish League.
  • Albert Miralles: Ditto for Miralles, except he never actually left Spain. Strangely, that actually helped the Celtics six years later, when Ainge smartly dealt his rights to the Milwaukee Bucks for Keyon Dooling.
  • Qyntel Woods: Samesies, except he was waived after three preseason games and signed with those wacky 2005-06 New York Knicks that seemingly featured every certifiably insane NBA player of the 2000s.
  • Miami’€™s 2006 second-round pick (Edin Bavcic): Likewise, the Celtics never made this selection, because Ainge traded it less than two months later for 19 games worth of Dan Dickau during the 2005-06 NBA season.
  • 2008 second-round pick (Nikola Pekovic): The Celtics got Nik Pekovic out of this deal? Awesome! Oh, wait, Ainge also tossed this pick into a trade a few months later for, among other assets, Michael Olowokandi.

DEPARTING to Miami

  • Antoine Walker: ‘Toine, of course, put together the last decent season of his NBA career in 2005-06, playing every regular-season game and starting all 23 playoff games for the Heat during their run to the NBA title.

Granted, Walker was the C’s second-best player behind Paul Pierce during their 2005 run to the playoffs, complete with towel-waving ‘Toine on the bench and some warm and fuzzy moments between the two reunited teammates.

But Ainge essentially traded a first-round pick and $12.9 million in salary cap relief for two more months of Employee No. 8, a pair of second-round picks and three players who never wore a Celtics uniform in earnest. That’s bad. That’s more than bad. It could have been catastrophic had Ainge not found the foresight to trade another future first-round pick (later used to draft Rudy Fernandez in 2007) to Phoenix for the right to draft Rondo in 2006.

Thankfully, the C’s promoted a former unpaid intern named Mike Zarren to “Basketball Operations Analyst” the next summer, and they’ve rarely, if ever, made mistakes in judging the value of their draft picks and cap space since.

As Ainge conceded in a 2008 New York Times article entitled “Hoop Data Dreams“: “Mike is a much smarter guy than I am. I’m open to smarter people than me. It still comes down to my instincts. I have to make the choice, no matter what my scouts say, no matter what the models say. I don’t think it’s realistic to think that a statistical model will ever be foolproof in basketball because there are so many variables, but I do think it can help us.” Yes, yes it can.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

The Celtics introduced their offseason acquisitions on Monday. (Ben Rohrbach/WEEI.com)



The Celtics have acquired 6-foot-5 shooting guard Zoran Dragic and a second-round pick from the Heat in exchange for a

Zoran Dragic

Zoran Dragic

The Celtics have acquired Zoran Dragic and a second-round pick from the Miami Heat in exchange for a heavily protected second-round pick that will likely never come to fruition, according to ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst.

The Heat will send their 2020 second-round selection and pay Dragic’s guaranteed salary of $1.71 million in 2014-15, per The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach. The Celtics are reportedly expected to waive Dragic.

Much like the recent deal for Perry Jones III, the C’s add a second-round pick in exchange for relieving a team of a portion of their luxury tax penalty.

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. 24 on the list of Danny Ainge’s 25 most consequential trades.

Feb. 24, 2011: Goodbye, Semih Erden.

ARRIVING in Boston

  • Minnesota’s 2013 second-round pick (via Cleveland): This pick was later used as a throw-in to complete the 2012 trade for Courtney Lee, and the Portland Trail Blazers ultimately used it to select Kansas center Jeff Withey with the No. 39 overall pick.

DEPARTING to Cleveland

  • Semih Erden: Due to a series of injuries and rumored homesickness resulting from worry over his ailing mother, the Turkish center played all of 32 games in parts of two seasons for the Cavaliers before returning to his native country, where he again plays for Fenerbahce.
  • Luke Harangody: Likewise, Harangody appeared in 42 games over the same two seasons for Cleveland before spending the past three years in the D-League and Euroleague.

It may not look like much, but this is a prime example of the value of second-round picks, something to keep in mind when the Celtics have as many as five such selections in the 2016 NBA draft.

From a talent evaluation standpoint, the Celtics took Erden with the last pick in the 2008 draft and Harangody with the No. 52 overall pick in 2010. Since Erden had been stashed overseas, both late-round picks were rookies competing for roster spots on a team that was coming off the 2010 NBA Finals appearance. Considering the health and age of a C’s frontcourt that featured Kevin Garnett, Jermaine O’Neal, Shaquille O’Neal, Glen Davis and a rehabbing Kendrick Perkins, both Erden and Harangody made the roster — and played important minutes on a team that won 56 games.

Harangody had a career night (17 points, 11 rebounds) in an early January win over the Toronto Raptors, and Erden averaged 20 minutes over 37 games, including seven starts, posting impressive 36-minute averages in Boston (10.2 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and 1.3 assists). So, it came as somewhat of a surprise that Ainge parted ways with them for seemingly nothing on the same day he dealt Perkins, leaving the brittle O’Neals and an unfamiliar Nenad Krstic to man the center spot.

And we all know how that played out.

By the trade deadline, though, the Celtics had already identified both Erden and Harangody were not long for the NBA, and keeping them around during a playoff run would only diminish what little value they had. So, Ainge took what he could get, and that second-round pick from Minnesota seemed almost as good as a late first-rounder, since the Timberwolves were well on their way to a league-worst 17 wins in 2010-11 and a safe bet to be a bottom-10 team for the next couple years.

In a vacuum, Ainge had turned two late second-round picks into an early second-rounder, which is a win when you consider those late selections weren’t ever going to crack a legitimate NBA rotation.

Now, we see the value of an early second-round pick. The Celtics were trying desperately to acquire Courtney Lee in a sign-and-trade deal with the Houston Rockets in 2012, and they required a third team to dump enough salary on in order to match Lee’s contract demands. With only scrap-heap players Sasha Pavlovic, JaJuan Johnson, E’Twaun Moore and Sean Williams to offer in return, the Celtics had to include low-cost assets to convince the Rockets and Blazers to assume their salaries.

Enter the second-round picks. The Celtics had three such selections in the 2013 draft — their own (No. 45), the one from Minnesota (No. 39) and another from Charlotte (No. 32) by way of Oklahoma City as a result of the Thunder failing to disclose information about Jeff Green‘s heart ailment in the Perkins trade. The earliest pick went to the Rockets along with Johnson, Moore and Williams; the two later picks went to the Blazers with Pavlovic; and Lee came to Boston on a mid-level salary.

Nobody will ever describe the Courtney Lee era as a success in Boston, but at the time it was a coup for a contending team with zero spending flexibility and little to no young talent available to trade. And while none of the C’s three second-round picks were enough to acquire a player of value on their own, as a collective they helped grease the wheels on a deal that seemed like a steal in the present.

Remember that when Ainge sweetens the pot on trades this season with second-round picks, because it’s not like he’ll actually select someone every six picks in the latter half of the 2016 draft.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach
Jay King of Masslive.com joins the show to break down the performance of the Celtics during the NBA Summer League. Then Ben and Sam discuss the exciting possibility of a Space Jam sequel.

Paul Pierce had been keeping a close eye on the Clippers throughout the NBA playoffs, he told Ian Thomsen of NBA.com.

Pierce said he knew he was either going back to his hometown to play for Los Angeles, or he would return to the Wizards.

Thomsen wrote that Pierce watched the Clippers’ series with the Rockets and was “horrified” as they let slip a 3-1 lead in the series and allowed Houston to score 51 of the final 71 points in Game 6.

“No way — if I was in that locker room — I would have allowed that to happen,” Pierce told Thomsen. “You picture yourself being that voice or being that guy on the court that can help in those situations. I think I fill a pretty big need for them.”

His career with the Celtics in the books, as the 37-year-old is trying to “cement [his] legacy in both” L.A. and Boston, saying that helping win the Clippers’ first championship would be “storybook.”

“It’s going to be great, the accountability of it — not only the team, but with Doc and his coaching staff,” Pierce told Thomsen. “It made this whole process a lot easier, especially the position the team was in. If the Clippers weren’t a team that was contending, or if it wasn’t home for me, then this wouldn’t have been a destination for me. It’s all working out the way I want it to.”

Pierce also said that he ran into Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge recently, who told him, “When you’re ready, we have a spot for you.”

“I think he was meaning as a player, but maybe it was in the front office …” Pierce said to Thomsen.

He added that he could see a position for himself in the Clippers organization as well with Rivers because the coach “respects [his] basketball mind,” and also noted that being in Boston as a young player was probably better for him than if he had been in his hometown.

“You’ve got to know yourself,” he told Thomsen. “I know how difficult it would have been for me, being from here — a young immature kid playing at home. I wouldn’t want that. That would be a whole other monster, with all of the distractions and that. Things happen for a reason. This is all destiny, I believe.”

Going into this season, Pierce said that the Clippers have all the pieces now that the team was able to re-sign DeAndre Jordan and add Lance Stephenson and Josh Smith along with Pierce.

“There are five or six teams that can win it all, and it boils down to how you come together and whoever is the healthiest,” Pierce said.

The motivation to do what it takes to get ready for the season has not died down yet, according to Pierce. He doesn’t know when it will and said he is fortunate not to have had any major injuries.

“It’s something we’re going to talk about — low minutes and games,” he said. “I think [Rivers] just wants me to get through the season and get ready for the playoffs.”

Throughout the coming year, Pierce said he could bring any number of assets to this Clippers team.

“It could be anything from being vocal in the locker room at halftime to get guys going, or providing other kinds of help in any number of ways,” he said. “I see the difference I was able to make for John [Wall] or Bradley Beal. I’ve learned to play with other great players. I can do a number of things to help a championship team.”

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.

Darius Songaila

Darius Songaila

Up top, let’s dispense with the least consequential trades of the Danny Ainge era.

  • June 25, 2003: The Celtics traded Darius Songaila for Sacramento’s 2003 second-round pick (Brandon Hunter) and 2005 second-round pick (Orien Greene). The Boston faithful should be encouraged by the fact this ranks among the worst deals of Ainge’s career.
  • Oct. 13, 2006: The Celtics traded Dwayne Jones for Luke Jackson. Whatever.
  • Feb. 17, 2009: The Celtics traded Sam Cassell in a salary dump for Sacramento’s heavily protected 2015 second-round pick, which never came to fruition.
  • Feb. 19, 2009: The Celtics traded Patrick O’Bryant, whose psyche had been destroyed by Kevin Garnett, for Toronto’s protected and since extinguished 2014 second-round pick.
  • June 23, 2011: The Celtics traded the No. 25 overall pick (MarShon Brooks) to Brooklyn for the No. 27 pick (JaJuan Johnson) and the Nets‘ 2014 second-round pick (Russ Smith), which was later used as part of a package to acquire Kelly Olynyk. Both the C’s and Nets made massive mistakes in selecting Brooks and Johnson over No. 30 pick Jimmy Butler.
  • June 27, 2013: The Celtics traded cash for Indiana’s No. 53 overall pick Colton Iverson, who has played overseas ever since and remains under Boston’s control.
  • Aug. 15, 2013: The Celtics traded Fab Melo for Donte Greene in a salary dump.
  • July 19, 2014: The Celtics traded Kris Humphries to Washington for a $5.3 million trade exception and a heavily protected future second-round pick that will never be realized. Boston rolled that $5.3 million TPE into a larger $12.9 million TPE in the Rajon Rondo deal.

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

June 28, 2006: Hello, Sebastian Telfair.

ARRIVING in Boston

  • Theo Ratliff: A 33-year-old center at the time of the trade, Ratliff played just two games for the Celtics before ultimately undergoing season-ending back surgery. A year later, his $11.67 million expiring contract famously helped Boston take on Kevin Garnett‘s salary in 2007.
  • Sebastian Telfair: Hyped as the next great point guard prospect, Telfair made the leap directly from high school to the NBA as Portland’s No. 13 pick in 2004. He had just turned 21 and showed little more than the occasional flash of brilliance when the Celtics acquired him on draft day two years later. Telfair proved no better than the third-best point guard on a 24-win team behind Rajon Rondo and Delonte West in 2006-07, and his arrest on a gun charge shortly after the season paved the way for his departure in the Garnett trade.
  • Portland’€™s 2008 second-round pick (Trent Plaisted): The C’s included this pick in the deal that also sent Jeff Green, Wally Szczerbiak and Delonte West to Seattle for Ray Allen.

DEPARTING to Portland

  • Dan Dickau: The then 27-year-old point guard played just 50 games for his hometown Blazers and was out of the league within two years of being traded by the Celtics.
  • Raef LaFrentz: North of 30 years old at the time, the veteran stretch forward had three years and $36.7 million remaining on an albatross of a contract. He played only 66 games over two seasons in Portland before nagging knee issues forced him into retirement.
  • Boston’€™s 2006 first-round pick (Randy Foye): Portland promptly swapped the C’s No. 7 pick with Minnesota’s sixth pick and drafted Brandon Roy, who made three straight All-Star appearances in his first five NBA seasons before knee injuries also claimed his career.

While all three “assets” the Celtics picked up in this trade were eventually included in the deals that landed Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen a year later, let’s not pretend like a sizable expiring contract, a subpar point guard and a mid second-round pick was some sort of coup for Ainge. Those were pieces the C’s likely could have acquired without giving up a high lottery pick.

Dumping LaFrentz’s deal, arguably one of the worst in NBA history, was the big win for Ainge in this trade. Maybe the C’s had to include this pick just to get LaFrentz off the books, but don’t forget Ainge was responsible for acquiring the zero-time All-Star one season into a seven-year disaster.

And while Ratliff’s expiring deal was instrumental in making the money work for Garnett, something tells me Roy — the 2006-07 Rookie of the Year — would’ve been just as valuable a trade chip that summer. From a talent for talent standpoint, this was by far the worst deal of Ainge’s tenure, but he wiped the slate clean and delivered a title the following season, so all is forgiven.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach