Count me as one who supported Danny Ainge, even when the Celtics lost their 18th consecutive game in 2007. I made the case that he inherited a mess and brought in talented young players. I argued for patience, to let the young players develop, and pray to basketball gods that the Celtics land one of the top picks in the 2006 draft.
From bad came good. And of course, the acquisitions of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen paid off in a big win, although they certainly did pay quite a penny in adding the future hall of famers. Al Jefferson is on the verge of becoming a perennial All-Star while Jeff Green and Delonte West are emerging as very solid players.
But he made two horrible trades in 2003 that set the franchise back by trading Antoine Walker's soon-to-be expiring contract for Raef LaFrentz and then trading solid veterans for Ricky Davis. He compounded his own mistakes later down the road by trading Ricky Davis for another horrid contract, and an even worse player, Wally Szczerbiak.
And that leaves me with perhaps the worst, the most egregious move, the scarlet letter of Ainge's career. Had he not saved himself by winning a championship, it would be this move that would have been the one that defined his sorry legacy.
Yes, the Celtics passed on Brandon Roy, and to a lesser extent, Randy Foye and Rudy Gay, for high school legend Sebastian Telfair, a diminutive shoot-first point guard who couldn’t shoot, who couldn’t defend, who couldn’t do much of anything right, so much so, that he was out of here as quickly as you can say "he needed college."
And oh, wouldn't have Roy fit so nicely on this team. It would have beautiful. He gives exactly what Allen has, but much, much younger.
I defended Ainge through it all. And now Danny, I'm done with you.
Ainge has crossed the line. I pardoned him when he let Posey walk and said the Celtics were going to replace him with Tony Allen and two rookies. And I even thought Mikki Moore and Stephon Marbury could contribute in some way. How wrong was I?
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
Ainge is a baseball player, so I’m sure he would understand this analogy. His first at bat was the Rajon Rondo situation. He whiffed on a change-up to strikeout.
0 for 1.
Next comes Leon Powe. And he watches three straight 85 mph fastballs grooved down the middle of the plate go right past him (a la Manny Ramirez versus the Yankees a few years ago) with his bat on his shoulder and does not flinch a muscle.
Strikeout No. 2.
When asked about the trade conversations involving Rondo, Danny should have been Belichickian with an ambiguous response. Instead, Danny the Snake became Danny the Honest and went into way too graphic detail as to why the Celtics were interested in trading Rondo.
Now, after failing to move the young, championship-winning, point guard, the Celtics are dealt with re-signing the player when they just dragged his name through the mud. And that is the best case scenario. I won’t even go into any others, which are more worse and very ugly.
But this is the one that really irks me.
Powe is a warrior and a fan-favorite. Powe tore his ACL and tried to play through it against the Bulls. He is a restricted free agent, and the Celtics decided to not extend him a qualifying offer.
This doesn't make sense from a basketball perspective or a team perspective. Powe might miss half the season, but a qualifying offer is in the area of around or just greater than a six-figure number (note that the Celtics are paying Brian Scalabrine four times the amount thanks to Danny’s Brain Doctor).
And of course, this is a business. But when you employ crap on your roster with the names of Pruitt, Giddens, and Scalabrine, don’t tell me there wasn’t a spot for an injured Powe.
Leon is pissed off, and rightly so. Instead of rehabbing at the Celtics' beautiful facility in Waltham, Powe will be on his own, or on a different team, and will be circling the date of his games versus the Celtics for when he can exact revenge on his former employer.
And rightly so. As much as I love the Celtics, I hope he gets it.
Winning cures all, and if Ainge hits a home run in free agency with his third at bat, he may turn this game around after all.
But this speaks to a culture that doesn’t reflect very positively on Ainge. And the ubuntu? Gone, especially if Rasheed Wallace is walking through this door.
When a player leaves New England, they always speak positively about Belichick and the Patriot way. Let's just say, former Celtics will not be saying the same things when talking about Danny the Snake.