At the end of the 2007-08 season, Boston Celtics fans rejoiced as their team defeated the hated Los Angeles Lakers and brought home their 17th NBA title, as well as first in over 20 years. General Manager Danny Ainge was given much credit for the victorious season, not only by fans, but also by the owners of the Celtics, who promoted him to President of Basketball Operations last October.
Ainge had made two key trades before the season that sent Boston Ray Allen and Glen "Big Baby" Davis from the Seattle SuperSonics, and Kevin Garnett from the Minnesota Timberwolves. After sitting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference in 2006 with just 24 wins, the Celtics won an NBA-best 66 the next season. With his two trades, Ainge had put the coal into the furnace that burned the biggest comeback in NBA history over a two-year span.
Garnett and Allen, however, did not come cheap. To acquire Garnett, the Celtics gave up seven players, including Al Jefferson. Jefferson can play both Forward and Center, and has already become one of the better players in the NBA, while being 9 years younger than KG. Boston also gave cash considerations and two first round picks in the upcoming 2009 NBA Draft, all for only Garnett.
Allen and Davis were traded for Delonte West, Wally Szczerbiak, and Boston's 2007 first-round pick, Jeff Green. Green is one of the few bright spots on the Oklahoma City Thunder, and made the All-Rookie First Team in 2008.
Jefferson and Green, two of the key players traded away, could have helped make a good future for a rebuilding team. They currently have a combined age of 46, while Allen and Garnett have a combined age of 66. While the moves Ainge made led to instant success for the Celts, trading away half your team and exchanging youth for aging veterans is not how you run a franchise.
There is no way a 2007-08 banner would be hanging from the rafters in the Garden had it not been for those trades. But in a few years, the Celtics will probably be a washed out team in no better position to contend than they were in the 2006-07 season. Dynasties are built with patience, and had they not made those moves, they would almost certainly be a huge force to be reckoned with in the NBA in the near future.
After this year's off-season began, there were soon trade rumors involving Boston. It was rumored that they would trade Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo for injury risk Amar'e Stoudemire. Though this rumor was never confirmed to be legitimate, Ainge has since attempted to deal the two fan favorites.
It was recently revealed that the Celtics have tried to trade away Rondo and Allen to the Detroit Pistons. In return, the Pistons would give Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, and Rodney Stuckey. The trade was declined by Detroit at once.
This trade proposal was fueled by greed. The C's do not want to pay Ray Allen's 2009 salary only to see him go to another team in the off-season. Allen makes about $18.5 million in 2009, while the trio from the Pistons combined make about $22 million. Ainge traded for a veteran player, and is now trying to deal him away two years later before his contract goes up.
Allen was a big part to the Celtics winning the championship a year ago, though at 33 years old in in the last year of his contract, trading him away might not be a horrible thing. But why is Rajon Rondo involved?
One of the few good things Ainge has done for the Celtics was trading for Rondo after he was drafted by the Phoenix Suns. He is developing into a very good all-around player, and is already well known as a Celtics star. He is the future of this team, and should not be packaged in any trade.
Ainge does not make much sense in trying to make this deal. He remodeled a team to win a championship in 2007. Now, he is trying to take apart some of its key pieces, and add in half of the Detroit Pistons to once again change it. It seems he is trying to use the reverse of the phrase, "out with the old, in with the new." And it needs to stop.
The Celtics may have won a championship because of Ainge's moves, but if they want to win one again anytime, they need to stop trading the team away. The best move they can make right now is not to trade Ray Allen. It is not to package him in a trade with Rondo, either.
The best move the Celtics can make right now is to fire Danny Ainge.
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