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Friday, 11 August 2017 15:43

Celtics Beat w/ Nick Gelso 8/13/17

222: Nick Gelso | 2007-08 Boston Celtics 10-Year NBA Championship Anniversary

 
Published in Celtics Beat

[News] Rajon Rondo Not Inviting Ray Allen to 2008 NBA Championship Anniversary Celebration | Boston Celtics Can Clinch Playoff Spot with Some Help | Powered by CLNS Radio

Published in NBA - Boston Celtics

Grading Danny Ainge From 2003-2012

Author’s note: This post has appeared throughout the Internet in the last few years. This writer does a yearly update to the post, and makes appropriate revisions along the way. Enjoy.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you one of the longest pieces of writing in Boston Celtics Internet history. Yes, a full evaluation of Celtics General Manager Danny Ainge. I really hope you don’t read all of this in one swing, but who knows. Maybe you become that hooked.

This is an ever-going project of mine, to over-analyze every move Ainge has made…just for the sake of over-analyzing them.

Also, just an FYI, I decided to split major trades and the draft with the off-season. I’d rather evaluate major, franchise-altering moves as one, and then entire off-seasons as another (which includes coaching moves, free agent signings, and smaller trades.)

But, without wasting any more time, here it is.

***
2003 Draft: Marcus Banks/ Kendrick Perkins, Brandon Hunter (2)  

Going into the 2003 draft – it was an absolute forgone conclusion the Celtics were going to use its first pick on a point guard. In the ’02 and ’03 Playoffs, Jason Kidd absolutely shredded the Celtics. And after trading Kenny Anderson in the summer of ’02 – the Celtics didn’t even have an acceptable PG on the roster. JR Bremer was starting second round playoff games for crying out loud.

So the question was who the Celtics were going to select. The choices came down to Banks, Luke Ridnour and Troy Bell. Leandro Barbosa was a dark horse to be picked but it was clearly between those three.

As it turned out – clearly the best choice was Ridnour who was a very effective PG for a solid Seattle team in the mid-2000s, especially during the Sonics very successful 2005 campaign.

Banks was a fairly lackluster pick as he never fit with the Celts, but was still regarded enough around the league as he landed a fairly long-term deal with Phoenix following his rookie contract. While Banks wasn’t the best selection, it never turned out to be a crippling draft choice (think: Michael Smith over Tim Hardaway in ‘89, Kedrick Brown and Joe Forte over …just about anyone in the stacked ‘01 Draft.)

Kendrick Perkins, however, as we all know was a steal at the end of the first round, and was one of the best players in the draft following the star-studded top, (LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh.)

Perkins was a key contributor on a championship team and a championship-runner up squad. He was later dealt for an, at-the-time-of-the-deal, fairly hefty package in return (Nenad Krstic, Jeff Green, and a number one draft choice.) Perkins at the end of the first round in 2003 was and still is one of the great value selections of any GM the last eight years.

Brandon Hunter, save for a few good games late in the ‘04 season, never amounted to anything, as expected from a pick at the end of the second round in any draft.

Grade: B

2003 Off-Season: Re-sign Coach Jim O’Brien, Trade J.R. Bremer for Jumaine Jones, Sign Mike James  

Re-signing O’Brien wasn’t the right move. Fortunately he quit, or it would’ve been a disaster.

O’Brien’s style of basketball was never the idea Ainge had in mind. At the time, Ainge was quoted as wanting to build a team along the molds of the early 2000s Dallas Mavericks/Sacramento Kings. So having O’Brien pace the sidelines didn’t seem to match up with that philosophy.

Assistant John Carroll took over mid-season, and in just a few months, Carroll gave ML Carr a run for his money on the title of “Worst Coach in Celtics History.”

Jumaine Jones was a bust signing. Mike James, however, was a solid move. Winning the starting job in camp, James was fairly effective with the Celtics (and most of his immediate stops following Boston) and was later used as a piece in Ainge’s mid-season move to land an extra draft choice for the 2004 draft. James was the only decent move however, from the rather worthless 2003 off-season.

Grade: C-

2004 In-Season Trade: Antoine Walker and Tony Delk for Raef LaFrentz, Chris Mills, Jiri Welsch, and a 2004 First  

A move that almost every Celtics fan coming. Whenever the Celtics would play on TNT in 2002 and 2003, and Ainge was on the broadcasts – Danny never had any kind things to say about Antoine’s game. When taking over the team, in radio interviews and other media outlets – he never even gave Walker any standard vote of confidence.

In the summer of 2003, Walker was rumored in just about any trade discussion with other players that were in the same boat (i.e. Latrell Sprewell.) It was a matter of if, not when, Walker was going to be traded.

Unfortunately, no matter what one thinks of Walker’s game – getting LaFrentz enormous contract in return wasn’t exactly what most Celtics fans had in mind. Outside of a solid ‘05 campaign, LaFrentz missed virtually all of 2004, and was dreadful in 2006. He was out of the league entirely following the conclusion of his big contract.

The only saving grace, or graces, from the trade were Welsch (later spun for a first round choice), and Dallas’ first which was used to select Delonte West.

However, late firsts could have been acquired for a far cheaper price tag than having to absorb a LaFrentz contract that had him tallying 28.5 million dollars in 2004, 2005, and 2006.

If Ainge was trying to make the team younger, Walker easily could’ve been dealt for expiring contracts and draft choices. However, as stated above, during that time, Ainge was really trying to build a team similar to that of the Bibby-Peja-Webber-Vlade Kings and the Nash-Finley-Dirk Mavericks.

Ainge saw LaFrentz as a valuable piece to this – a high-post center on the offensive end that could stretch the defense and knock down a three. That never worked out. Fortunately, Ainge cashed in BIG TIME on Welsch (later spun for a first rounder that led to selecting Rajon Rondo), as well as selecting Delonte West with Dallas’ pick.

Grade: C-

2004 In-Season Trade: Eric Williams, Kedrick Brown, and Tony Battie for Ricky Davis, Chris Mihm and Yogi Stewart  

A controversial move at the time as Ainge dealt away two high character guys and valuable pieces to the 2002 and 2003 Celtics teams.

However, Ainge at the time was clearly focused on the “Five Year Plan” he laid out in a June 2003 press conference. By this point, with the team below ‘at-the-time’ win totals of the ‘02 and ‘03 campaigns; the 2004 season was somewhat of a throwaway.

Ainge saw the chance to acquire a talented player on the cheap, no matter the character issues, for a roster that lacked any true talent besides Paul Pierce. Heck, Chris Mihm was even still considered a decent young talent at the time. Ainge did this without giving up any draft choices, and only players, who while we were very solid in their own right – both made decent salaries, and just had no value to a rebuilding team. This was clearly the move that got the wheels spinning on the Celtics’ rebuilding wagon. Grade: B+

2004 In-Season Trade (Atlanta-Boston-Detroit Three-Teamer): Out: Mike James and Chris Mills – In: Chucky Atkins, Lindsey Hunter (waived back to Detroit), 3M in cash and a 2004 First from Detroit  

A lot of people were upset because it was a move that “helped our rivals.”

However, Ainge wasn’t worried about that, and saw it as a move to snag another first in a draft he was quoted many times as one he liked.

Ainge also picked up a more stable point guard in Chucky Atkins, as James was more of a combo threat rather than a true point. Oddly enough, Atkins’ stabling presence allowed the team to play a little better basketball down the stretch and sneak into the post-season as a dreadful number eight seed.

At the time of the trade, the Celtics were in utter free-fall and could have landed anywhere between the fifth-to-seventh best chances to win the 2004 draft lottery.

However, Ainge got what he wanted in another first round pick without giving up anything of value whatsoever. The draft choice was used to select Tony Allen. Nice.

Got to add mega-bonus points for helping the Pistons acquire Wallace who later went out to kick the Lakers behinds in the ‘04 Finals.

Grade: A- (only thing holding back the A was Atkins helping this team reach the playoffs rather than continuing to tank)

2004 Draft: Al Jefferson/Tony Allen/Delonte West, Justin Reed (2)  

The draft that basically accelerated the rebuilding stages in Boston.

When we look back in history, one would say, “Wow what a draft!” Going into that draft, Ainge valued it highly. Even though the general consensus at the time was that it wasn’t a good draft. Although, in reality, it turned out to be solid.

Ainge got a borderline franchise big man building block in Al Jefferson, and two great role players in West and Allen – without having a pick in the lottery. All three of these players were contributors on the 2005 Celtics team, which went on to win the division and be the East’s number three seed.

However, points have to be deducted off of Ainge because Jefferson was not Ainge’s first choice. In fact, he might not have even been Ainge’s second as there were some rumors about Luke Jackson.

Ainge was absolutely fascinated with an unknown high school center named Robert Swift. Swift was a colossal bust in the pros, and fortunately neither he nor Jackson were there for Boston at 14.

Drafting Swift over Jefferson would have been an unmitigated disaster, and quite frankly if that happened, Ainge would have been out of a job. While Banks over Ridnour wasn’t crippling by any stretch of the imagination, this would have been. The Jefferson selection was one of the best things that happened to this franchise during the doldrums years of the franchise from 93-07. Without Jefferson, Minnesota does not even consider the franchise-altering trade for KG.

There were reports Ainge also wanted Dorell Wright over Tony Allen. Also, while Tony Allen is certainly a good pro – he regressed after a hot start in the ‘05 season. He was in Doc’s doghouse in ’06. Idiotically blew out his knee after seemingly blossoming early in the ’07 campaign. And then wasn’t much of any contributor on the ‘08 or ‘09 Celtics. Celtics fans never really got to see the real Tony Allen until the 2010 playoffs.

Kevin Martin would have been a better pick, and many at the time thought he should have been the pick. Martin, however, was never considered by Boston as it really was between Wright and Allen. However, all in all, it was a very good draft.

Grade: B+ (Harsh, but like I said – loses major points for the fact that the guys he picked weren’t his main guys.)

2004 Off-Season: Hire Coach Doc Rivers, Re-sign Mark Blount, Trade Chucky Atkins, Chris Mihm and Jumaine Jones to LA for Gary Payton and a First-rounder, Sign Tom Gugliotta  

Hot and cold.

Freezing cold: re-signing Mark Blount. Even I knew the second half of his 2004 season was a total contract run. He played with more intensity in those two months than I ever saw from him all rolled up into one times a million. It was absolutely absurd Ainge fell for that.

Hot, of course, hiring Doc. Nothing more needs to be said. And major points for sticking by him during 2007.

The Payton trade was a solid trade, as the team shed salary, picked up an extra first and got a solid point guard that really stabilized the 2005 team. He was a good presence for that team, and had a rather underrated stay here.

Googs was a huge bust. Good Lord.

If not for Doc, this off-season would have been a D however. The Blount signing was that bad.

Grade: B-

*Ainge also made a few in season moves during the 2005 season. Walter McCarty was traded to Phoenix for a second, which was a second that was later used to trade for another second rounder to select Orien Greene. But Ainge also totally heisted Cleveland when he traded Jiri Welsch for a first round pick. That first was traded in ‘06 to Phoenix to select Rondo. So give an A to Ainge there.

2005 In-Season Trade: Gary Payton (Returned), Tom Gugliotta, Michael Stewart, and a First-Rounder to Atlanta for Antoine Walker  

Immediate note: that first rounder was the pick that was acquired by the Celtics in the Gary Payton trade.

This was a move that was pushed by Wyc and Steve. The Celtics, even though they were having a semi-decent season, especially by the doldrums Celtics standards, were absolutely irrelevant in the city of Boston. This was despite the fact they were the only professional team playing during the winter months following the Patriots third Super Bowl. Remember, the NHL was locked out that whole year.

The Celtics ownership felt they needed some buzz. So they traded back for a fan favorite and ultra-polarizing Antoine Walker. The Celtics played well down the stretch, including winning 12/13 right after acquiring Walker, and there was a bit of that buzz (but not much) regarding the Celtics.

Unfortunately, the trade was an absolute waste. The Celtics got the result they would have had regardless whether they made the trade or not. They most likely would have won the Atlantic Division with or without Walker, and they definitely would have made the post-season that year even if they didn’t make the trade.

The Celtics lost in the first round, at home, in embarrassing fashion. And the team gave up one of those cherished draft choices that Ainge was accumulating during the rebuilding stage. Remember, this was still Year Two of the Five Year Plan no matter how badly the fans wanted to see an extra playoff series.

There’s no sense giving up a first rounder just to get a little buzz on WEEI for a few weeks. I guess one can’t fault Ainge because this wasn’t really his trade, but regardless, this writer will grade it for what it was.

Grade: F

2005 Draft: Gerald Green, Ryan Gomes/Orien Greene (2)  

Celtics fans were absolutely ecstatic when the Celtics came away with Gerald Green who entered the ‘05 draft with a boatload hype. While Green turned out to be a huge bust, he was still a good pick as he had some value in the league at the time he was traded to Minnesota. The Green selection wasn’t the best pick, but once again, it wouldn’t have been as big of a disaster as picking Swift over Jefferson would have been.

Ryan Gomes was an absolute steal in the second round and Ainge deserves major props for taking him. This writer personally remembers wanting him badly, and was elated when Russ Granik called his name.

Oddly, Ainge guaranteed Orien Greene that the Celtics would draft him for whatever reason. What hurts is that there were rumors that Ainge regretted it because he didn’t think Amir Johnson would be available with that selection, which he was.

There were also reports that Ainge was also dying that Al Jefferson’s friend Monta Ellis would fall to 50, but that never happened. Ainge has always had an infatuation with Ellis, as evidenced by Ainge trying to trade Ray Allen for him in 2010.

Ah well.

Grade: B-

2005 Off-Season: Sign Brian Scalabrine, Trade Future Second for Dan Dickau  

A fairly pointless off-season. People forget, while Scalabrine was immensely popular during the ‘08-10 years, he was the symbol of the dreadful 2006 and 2007 teams. He was an overpaid, talent-less veteran who was boo’d every time he touched the ball by a large portion of the nine thousand some fans that would attend games during the miserable ‘07 year. Dickau never amounted to anything either. This was a waste.

Grade: F

In-Season Trade: Ricky Davis, Mark Blount, Justin Reed, and Marcus Banks for Wally Szczerbiak, Michael Olowakandi, and a Future First  

Ainge got an immediate upgrade in Wally Szczerbiak over Ricky Davis. He also cleared a lot of clutter on the roster in Reed, Blount (huge contract), and Marcus Banks.

For a year, Wally was far better than Davis ever was before plummeting in the 2007 season. Ainge, however, stole a draft choice from Minnesota. This pick ended up becoming the sixth pick in the 2009 draft, as it was eventually returned to Minnesota in the Kevin Garnett blockbuster.

Ainge got a better player in Wally, cleared an awful contract in Blount, and grabbed a pick that ended up becoming a lottery pick. Wally’s fade in 2007 hurt because he lost much of his value after that season. Still, a very solid trade.

Grade: A-

2006 Draft: Leon Powe (2), Trade Seventh Overall Pick (Randy Foye), Raef LaFrentz, Dan Dickau to Portland for Theo Ratliff, and Sebastian Telfair, Trade Future First to Phoenix for #21 (Rajon Rondo), and Brian Grant (‘s contract.)  

The ultimate mixed bag. A lot of people will say, “Well, Minnesota needed Ratliff’s expiring contract for the Garnett deal.” However, what would have been more important to the Wolves – one less year in a contract or a dynamic stud in Brandon Roy? Having Brandon Roy may have prevented the Celtics from having to part with Ryan Gomes or future draft considerations in the Garnett trade.

Had Danny done his job, and actually looked at Brandon Roy (who was never really considered by Ainge – it was either Foye, or possibly reaching for Marcus Williams/Rajon Rondo) the Celts may have been able to keep some of those pieces they sent to the Wolves in the KG deal. The Telfair deal gets an F in my book and there’s no way around it.

Ainge, however, saved this draft with two A, even A+ moves. Rondo of course, was the best player on an NBA Finalist in 2010, and Leon Powe was on pace to have a great career if not for numerous knee injuries. He was a huge part of the 2008 bench, and practically won a Finals game in Game 2 2008. This night gave us the best and the worst of Danny Ainge.

Overall Grade: B-

2006 Off-Season: Sign Allan Ray, Re-sign Paul Pierce  

Following Pierce’s impressive 2006 season; Pierce re-upped with Boston for the long term. He signed a five-year contract, with an opt-out after the fourth year.

There were rumors of players in the league who were critical of Pierce, re-signing with a ‘loser’ (this writer heard Jackie Mac saying some Pistons players back then – Hamilton, Prince.)

Either way, this was a victory for Ainge. He was able to keep a Hall of Famer in a situation that was not-so-hot at the time for the remainder of the prime of his career. The rest of the off-season was pretty much a throwaway. Grade: A- Note: No Major In-Season Moves in 2006

2007 Draft Trade: Wally Szczerbiak, Delonte West, Fifth Overall Pick (Jeff Green) to Seattle for Ray Allen and the Thirty-Fifth Overall Pick (Glen Davis)  

Danny Ainge’s home run trade. A trade that was met with much lukewarm response by fans and media was what got everything rolling. The trade wasn’t met with high regards because Ray Allen was 32, and was coming off double ankle surgery. How many charts did we see reading about “shooting guards past 32” that had many of the great shooting guards of the 90s and early 00s fading away at that age, with the outliers being Michael Jordan and Reggie Miller? For comedic relief, read Bill Simmons’ 2007 draft diary.

As we have seen, Ray has joined those outliers, posting his best season as a Celtic at 35 in 2011. Many were upset because after missing out on KG, all Ray Allen was going to get the Celtics was a chance to compete for a playoff spot. You know, that dreaded basketball purgatory of mediocrity.

However, Ainge was able to complete a trade without giving up his most valuable asset in Al Jefferson, and his only major expiring contract on the team in Theo Ratliff. He was able to get the Sonics to take Wally who still had two more years left on a contract that paid him near max money.

Ainge was also able to make a very quality selection with the second round pick that was also acquired in the deal in Glen Davis, who was an exceptional fill in starter for Kevin Garnett in 2009, and was a key bench player on the 2010 Finals run.

No doubt about this one. Ainge’s shrewdest trade by a mile.

Grade: A+

2007 Draft: Gabe Pruitt/Glen Davis (2)  

Davis was already talked about above. In 2008, he had his moments; coming up with some key plays in the regular season, and arguably winning the biggest regular season game of the season for them. He was also a phenomenal fill-in starter for Garnett in the second half of 2009, and was a great bench player in the ‘10 Playoffs.

Another team saw so much in Davis that he’s now being paid six million a year for the foreseeable future. A fine pick by Ainge.

Pruitt was a total washout. He was selected with a fairly high pick in the second round (number two overall), and there many good players selected after him (Davis, Josh McRoberts, Aaron Gray, Marc Gasol, Ramon Sessions).

Celtics fans heard a lot about him. Ainge routinely said on Boston radio airwaves that he was the best perimeter defender the Celtics had in practice. Yet we didn’t see anything from this kid. He only had off-court problems.

Pruitt was a bad pick, but coming away with Davis helped.

Grade: B-

2007 Off-Season Trade: Theo Ratliff, Al Jefferson, Sebastian Telfair, Gerald Green, Ryan Gomes, a 2009 Celtics First, and a 2009 Minnesota First for Kevin Garnett  

Everyone remembers where they were when they heard this news break. The NBA even made a commercial of it, albeit a not very accurate one because the story broke in the wee hours of a Sunday night/Monday morning. But, whatever.

There really isn’t much to talk about here. Yes, the Celtics gave up a lot as Jefferson is a very nice player right now, sporting a 20+ PER while being signed at less than a max deal.

Ryan Gomes was a nice role player for quite some time, and no one talks about the pick that was given back to the Wolves. With the protection clauses on that pick, it basically turned out to be the sixth pick in the ‘09 draft as it was only top-five-protected that year.

Still, the Celtics got a Hall of Famer, who was still playing at a high level (fourth in MVP in ‘08) and won Banner 17 and have been contenders ever since. Celtic Pride has been restored.

Grade: A

2007 Off-Season: Hire Tom Thibodeau as Assistant Coach, Re-sign Kendrick Perkins, Sign James Posey, Sign Eddie House. Sign Scott Pollard  

The rest of the off-season flew under the radar. Yet, these were all EXCEPTIONAL moves. Boston got lucky when Larry Brown declined Rivers’ offer to be an assistant on the staff and instead grabbed Thibodeau from Van Gundy in Houston.

Kendrick Perkins was wrapped at a bargain basement price at four years and sixteen million, and Posey and House were as good as signings as you could get with splitting the mid-level exception. Pollard was good for the locker room. By far Ainge’s best off-season when the team was a contender.

Grade: A+

2008 In-Season: Sign P.J Brown, Sign Sam Cassell  

Cassell turned out to be a bit of a bust, although he had his moments in some key regular season games, but PJ Brown was dynamite for Boston in the back end of the playoff run. Do we need to talk about his Game 7 against Cleveland?

Grade: A

2008 Draft: J.R. Giddens, Bill Walker/Semih Erden (2)  

Easily the worst draft conducted by Danny Ainge. Giddens was a dreadful pick, and both he and Walker were not even at positions of need. Add in the fact that, Giddens and Walker were redundant players – this writer still does not know what Ainge was thinking.

The Celtics needed either a big (DeAndre Jordan) or a point guard (Mario Chalmers). Both would have helped then and now. Absolutely horrible.

Erden wasn’t bad for being that drafts Mr. Irrelevant, but whatever.

Grade: D-

2008 Off-Season: Let James Posey walk, Sign Patrick O’Bryant  

What in the blue hell happened here? The Celtics were dominant in 2008, and all they needed was half of what Ainge gave them in the 2007 off-season following the trades, and the Celtics would have been the odds on favorite going into the season (they slipped to number two behind the Lakers.)

A lot of Celtics people say, “Wow thank God we didn’t re-sign Posey.” Yes, Posey slipped, but he was still a fairly decent player in 2009. Not having him to spell Garnett a little may have very well led to that fateful knee injury that effectively squashed the 2009 season and has hindered KG in the twilight of his career. “Prime” Kevin Garnett ended that night in Utah.

Ainge also never replaced Posey. Mickaël Piétrus was a decent addition in 2012, but he was much better back then. He would have been a real help had the Celtics signed him then and had him when the Celtics were contenders in ‘09, ‘10, and ‘11.

Patrick O’Bryant was a disgrace of a Celtic. He was so lazy that Garnett wanted to punch his lights out in practice. He’s repeatedly mentioned by Bulpett (not by names) in articles when it comes to guys not giving their all in practice. He was shipped out of Boston in a matter of months (with Sam Cassell) for nothing.

The Celtics came back like gangbusters in early in the ’08-09 season, and had KG stayed healthy, they were probably going to make it back to the Finals (not sure about beating LA with that fairly weak bench.) Titles are not won in off-seasons, but they are lost. The Celtics lost 2009 with this summer.

Grade: F

2009 In-Season: Trade Patrick O’Bryant, Sam Cassell to Sacramento for a Conditional Second (Nothing), Sign Mikki Moore, Sign Stephon Marbury  

Moore had some decent games here early on and he helped out a bit but faded away fast. Marbury had one good game against Orlando in the playoffs (Game 5) and other than that he was a huge bust. This wasn’t a PJ Brown-Sam Cassell redux by a long shot.

Grade: D

2009 Draft: Lester Hudson (2)  

Ainge shipped away their first this year in the KG deal. All the Celtics had was a second rounder, which they used on Hudson, who was a washout. Still, they didn’t really miss out on anything.

Grade: N/A

2009 Off-Season: Sign Shelden Williams, Sign Rasheed Wallace, Sign Marquis Daniels  

Williams got off to a hot start in Boston, but faded real fast and was never heard from again until he bricked a dunk in Game 6 of the Finals in Los Angeles.

Rasheed Wallace was a huge bust early on, but hit clutch shots, played dynamite defense on Dwight Howard in the 2010 ECFs, filled in admirably for Perkins in Game 7 of the Finals, and actually provided a stabilizing presence for that bench unit in the ‘10 playoffs. Major bonus points due to luck that he retired after the season, though. He was ‘nice’ in the ‘10 playoffs, but wasn’t worth the full MLE over three years.

Marquis Daniels was a non-factor in ‘10, but a decent piece in ‘11 until he got hurt. However, using the bi-annual exception on Daniels in ‘10 cost the Celtics getting Matt Barnes in ‘11. Ainge was after Barnes, but could only pursue him with the minimum salary. Had the Celtics had that back-up small forward in ’11 after Daniels went down, who knows if Ainge does the ill-fated Perkins deal.

Grade: C

*Ainge made a few moves in the 2010 season. Ainge went through a lot of bodies – Michael Finley, a bunch of NBDL scrubs. He just couldn’t get the extra piece. None of them really worked out.

Grade: N/A

2010 In-Season Trade: Trade Eddie House, Bill Walker, and JR Giddens for Nate Robinson  

This trade came with some criticism due to trading a popular player in Eddie House, but it was necessary. That team was as listless as they ever were during the KG years, and something had to be done.

Robinson was a solid player for the Knicks, but he was nothing more than average in Boston, falling out of the rotation by the time the playoffs started. But then, all of a sudden Game 6 of the ECF happened, aka “The Nate Robinson Game.”

Then, Nate played a very nice NBA Finals. Robinson then fizzled in ‘11, but those two and a half weeks in the late spring/early summer of very good Nate Robinson play made that trade worth it. Grade: B

2010 Draft: Avery Bradley, Luke Harangody (2)  

Here’s what I said early last year regarding this draft:

Bradley may not be what most people expected for having a pick as high as we did in ‘10 (remember, the Celtics picked 19th due to their not-so-spectacular 2010 regular season), but the overall draft was weak. Harangody gave the Celtics one good game, but was shipped out of here quick.

Grade: C+

However, that is not the case. As mentioned, the 2010 Draft was utterly miserable. There were only a few players picked behind Bradley that have had even the slightest contributions in the NBA. Their names are Jordan Crawford, Landry Fields, Dominique Jones, Greivis Vásquez, and Quincy Pondexter.

Bradley is better than all of those players by a mile. Getting Bradley at number 19 in that putrid draft was a home run, and one of Ainge’s sharpest moves.

Re-Grade: A

2010 Off-Season: Let Tony Allen Walk, Sign Shaquille O’Neal, Sign Jermaine O’Neal, Sign Von Wafer, Sign Delonte West, Re-sign Nate Robinson, Sign Lawrence Frank as Assistant Coach.  

This off-season came with rave reviews at the time, and was even passing the grade through the middle of that season.

However, Jermaine O’Neal was not worth near the money. What hurts even more is that the MLE that off-season was very valuable, an example being the Bulls splitting it on Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer.

Shaq got hurt during the season, which was no surprise. But what really stung was his stellar play in November and December of that season. Ainge and the coaching staff became so sold on his early play that they ended up banking the season on him.

Whereas opposed to when he was signed he was just a ‘bonus’ guy. So in essence, Shaq ended up being a disappointment when he should not have been, (remember, he was signed for the minimum, which was a STEAL.)

Not giving a Tony Allen a third year was a killer. Allen has turned into Bruce Bowen 2.0 with infinite more energy and athleticism. He has proven that his play in the 2010 playoffs was not a fluke.

Delonte West, while hurt, was still a decent pick-up at the minimum and Wafer had his moments as well. Any time you can get any sort of help with minimum salary guys – that’s a plus, and Danny got that there.

Nate Robinson totally tanked in 2011 after looking like he was going to work out for the Celts with his play in the ’10 post-season.

Lawrence Frank was a decent addition to the staff and impressed so much that he got a head-coaching job immediately after the season.

Still, as much good we could talk about that off-season, it was all for naught. Come playoff time, the team was stricken down to just the Big Four, with the only contributions come the playoffs from Jermaine O’Neal and Delonte West. And even those were minor.

Grade: C

2011 In-Season: Trade (Release) Marquis Daniels, Sign Carlos Arroyo, Sign Troy Murphy  

Blah. None of these guys were any factors at all. Murphy was a huge bust, and the team needed him (dreadful rebounding team in 2011.) Arroyo was cut from Miami, which should have been all we needed to know.

Grade: D

2011 In-Season Trade: Kendrick Perkins, and Nate Robinson for Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic, and LAC’s 2012 First (Fab Melo)  

The day the music died. Yes, the trade doesn’t look that bad now because people say “the Celtics were not going to re-sign Perk anyways, and Perk isn’t that good anymore.” Correct, the Celtics very likely were not re-signing Perkins and Perkins is a very average player now.

But it’s not about now. The Celtics were all about selling-out to win another championship with the aging Big Three. The Perkins trade ended that chance, and everyone knew it then and knows it now.

The Clippers pick was a plus, as that gave the Celtics back-to-back first rounders with their own and LA’s. The Celtics took Fab Melo out of Syracuse.

The pick was supposed to be better than it was, but the Clippers had Chris Paul fall on their laps, who ended up leading them to a rare winning season and a playoff appearance.

Nenad Krstic had a nice start when he first joined the team, but faded quick and now is not even on the Celtics anymore.

And Jeff Green, I hate to admit it, was horrible in 2011 as a Celtic. There’s no way around that. He had a 12.9 PER. And, as we know, was a total wash n 2012.

Perkins also could have been used in a sign-and-trade in the off-season for ANYTHING better than what that package Ainge got in return. Hell, an eight million dollar trade exception is more valuable than what was fetched when the Celtics traded Perkins, who at the time had decent value in the league.

Grade: D-

2011 Draft: JaJuan Johnson, E'Twaun Moore (2)  

The draft has already been washed away as both Johnson and Moore were sent in a trade package as throw-ins to make a sign-and-trade for Courtney Lee work. Neither of the players have any value. Houston has already released Moore, who was just recently being picked up by Orlando.

The Johnson selection does sting a little, considering the Celtics swapped Marshon Brooks for him (along with a 2014 protected second rounder.) Brooks may be a bit overrated as a gunner, but he does hold some value. The Celtics accomplished next to nothing in this draft.

Grade: D+

2011 Off-Season: Sign-and-Trade Glen Davis for Brandon Bass, Sign Chris Wilcox, Sign Mickaël Piétrus, Trade Albert Miralles for Keyon Dooling and a Conditional Second, Sign Greg Stiemsma, Re-sign Jeff Green (Voided), Re-sign Sasha Pavlovic  

With the lockout ending in early December, Danny Ainge had just a few days to piece together a team. He did all of this while trying to stick with his plan to not have any running salary past the Garnett and Allen contract expirations following the 2012 campaign.

Considering the circumstances, Ainge had a phenomenal off-season. He stole Brandon Bass for Glen Davis. He snagged Chris Wilcox for the tax-MLE (a shame his season was cut short after he finally began to play well – but having him in Boston last year enabled the Celts to lock him up cheap for 2013), signed Piétrus for the minimum, traded nothing for Keyon Dooling, (who came with a protected second rounder), and found Greg Stiemsma.

While none of these players were game changers, they were at the very least, contributors. They were patchwork guys, yes, but that’s all Ainge had to work with. All of these players contributed in a positive way in some capacity to a team that made the Eastern Conference Finals. And Ainge did this while keeping his cap flexibility for 2013.

Ainge also handled the Jeff Green situation marvelously. These are little things that go unnoticed, but the Celtics have built a great relationship with Jeff Green, and more importantly, his agent.

All in all, a rousing success. Especially considering the circumstances.

Grade: A-

2012 In-Season: Release Jermaine O’Neal, Sign Sean Williams, Sign Ryan Hollins  

The Celtics cutting the bait with O’Neal instantly bolstered the morale in the locker room. It had long been reported that players on the team grew sick and tired of O’Neal’s constant trips to the trainers room. When management cut the cords on the failed JO experiment, Garnett moved to center and the team played its best basketball for the remainder of the season.

Ryan Hollins and Sean Williams didn’t amount to much, as expected. There weren’t many options for free agent big men available during the season, (Ronny Turiaf and Joel Pryzbilla to name a few) – so cut the Celtics some slack.

Besides, signing Williams to a contract for the remainder of 2012 with a non-guarantee for 2013 enabled the Celtics to move his salary to Houston to help facilitate the Courtney Lee sign-and-trade so that Houston could match salaries without having to pay for Sean Williams’ non-guarantee deal in 2013.

Grade: B

***

Well, that’s it for now folks. Let’s give it until next October until we can grade Danny’s 2012 summer.

To be continued …      

Published in NBA - Boston Celtics

The Los Angeles Lakers visit TD Garden to renew there rivalry with the Boston Celtics on Thursday night. Like many of there past meetings, this game was a marathon, going to five periods and ending on a failed Ray Allen tip in, off a Paul Pierce miss at the buzzer.The Celtics held control over the contest, littered with filthy basketball play. In what's become a familiar scenerio at TD Garden, the last three season, the Lakers broke away late in the game. Led by Kobe Bryant (27 points) and Pau Gasol (25 points), the Lakers went on a 14-0 run in the 3rd to take the lead.Glaringly obvious was the Celtics lack of paint plate. Dominated by the Lakers bigs, Bynum and Gasol combined for 31 rebounds. The Celtics lack of post presence also hurt them in there ability to get the foul line. Attempting only 5 free throw attempts thru 4 periods of regulation and 1 over time.Despite the poor basketball being played on both ends, the game went as planned for a Lakers/Celtics regular season battle.Following the game, Kobe Bryant spoke to WEEI and CLNSRadio locker room corespondent, JWeiss. Kobe spoke about the rivalry between the two NBA titans in mostly past tense. After years of not admiting that their was any similarities between the 1980s rivalry and the 2008-2012 era, Kobe seems to be softening on that issue. The ever-cocky Bryant also seemed to lighten his stance on the guys who wear green and white [black Thursday night], saying, "The only difference between us and the '80s is that guys over there in the other locker room I actually know and like."Here are all of Kobe's comments, courtesy of WEEI. It's been a dream come true growing up and watching it. Here I am part of it. It's great. The only difference between us and the '80s is that guys over there in the other locker room I actually know and like. That's the big difference between this time around and the '80s.It's always a brawl in every fight. It's ugly. It's physical. I've enjoyed competing against them. I like all of them personally. On the court, that personal stuff goes out the window. It's been fun.Asked if he felt his Lakers and these Celtics are two aging teams whose championship window may be sealed shut at this point, Bryant said, "I don't know. They've got three Hall of Famers and a fourth one coming. That don't look too familiar to me over here.It's a throwback in the sense that we're old school. Ray's old school. Paul's old school. Kevin's old school. And so is Rajon. How we prepare for the game, how much the game means to us, you can see the emotion that they pour into it, how much they put into the game. You don't really see that too much from the young guys nowadays. For Celtics fans - especially this one - the thoughts of no more Lakers/Celtics Finals brings me back to the decades following Bird and Magic's retirement. --of course, I don't want to see it end.In 2008, when the Lakers made there unlikely finals run, meeting the Celtics in the Finals, it was surreal. For a guy, who as a young boy, begged for one more classic showdown between the league's two greatest franchises, 2008 was a dream come true. 2010 was unfathomable, considering the Celtics poor regular season, injuries, etc.Last night's tenor of finality from the players, seems to have thrown me back into a mind set of reminscing. It won't be long before Ray Allen's three point shoot out in 2010, the cigars being smoked in the Garden in 2008 and the Shrek/Donkey show, rate up there with McHale's clothes line, Bird's fade-away over Magic and Magic's baby hook in 1987.For those of you who would rather critique the sloppy basketball being played on the parquet, I say lose the elitest attitude! Rivalries such as Lakers/Celtics are hard to come by, in any sport, these days.Savor the moment Celtics, Lakers and NBA fans because, by the tone of Kobe's comments, it's unlikely we'll see LA/Boston in the finals again for another several years - if ever. Savor the moment.
Published in NBA - Boston Celtics

Wow. What a feeling today. No, I am not celebrating title #18. That was prevented by the Lakers. Not just Kobe either. It was prevented by a rebounding disparity of 53-40, led by the Laker that impressed me the most during this series. Pau Gasol is NOT soft. In game seven he grabbed 18 boards and scored 19 points-- kudos Pau. The Lakers won this game as a team. Fisher hit big shots (as usual), Artest woke up for the second straight game with 20 points. The Lakers are a solid unit. They are a team. Lakers fans should be proud today and deserve to celebrate.Okay, enough Laker-love, it's painful enough to think it-- typing it may be worse.Celtics fans, be proud of your squad. I said all season that the '09 team was one of the toughest in franchise history. The '10 team embodied everything that every generation of Celtics possessed. Sure, they let us all down in stretches of the regular season. They had few, but some, lapses in the playoffs. But, when the post season kicked off, this had the grit and refusal to lose of the of the 1960's dynasty. They had the toughness of the Cowens and Havlichek led Celtics of the 1970's. They struggled through chemistry issues all season but, when it mattered most, they meshed together as a unit-- possibly as tight as the '86 and '87 Celtics.Oh yes. I am proud of this team.Today, LA is celebrating and, understandably, Celtics fans are devastated. Their were a lot of painful moments, watching the Lakers celebrate at the Celtics expense. Possibly most painful and unsettling , as a Celtics fan, was watching the team's patriarch hand the trophy that is named in his honor to a Laker. As much as it hurt me to watch Bill Russell surrounded by celebrating Lakers, it had to disturb Russell that much more. Of course, the man that defeated the Lakers several times during his dynasty, displayed class and dignity in defeat. Yes, though Russell is now an ambassador of the league, he will always be a Boston Celtic. He is undoubtidly the patriarch of the C's but did his job for basketball last night. Painful to watch for Celtics fans but Russell's accomplishments while in Boston have now been woven into the fabric of basketball. He made me proud last night-- showing that a Boston Celtic fulfilled his responsibility to the sport and the league and did it with class. Painful none the less.Now the aftermath. As Lakers fans celebrate, Boston is surrounded by question marks that will dominate the off-season.Doc Rivers, a man we criticize harshly when things are not going well, is as much a Boston Celtic as anyone. He is now a large part of the franchises deep history book. Every season he talks about retirement but, this time around, it just seems to be more definitive than in past years. I sure hope Doc will be back but I am not so sure this time. I used to laugh Doc's innuendos about retirement off-- I am not this time.Ray Allen, unquestionably I have a soft spot for him. I have often stated my love for Ray on this site and on the Celtics Late Night Show. Until last night, i felt Ray would be back next season in some capacity. However, there was some sort of finality to the Celtics demeanor during the finals. Since losing game six, their has been an overwhelming feeling that this would be a last shot at a title for the current roster. Ray's future in green is definitely up for debate-- I hope he is back next season.Rasheed Wallace, a man that has made us laugh, made us nuts, given us a lot of talking-points on the Celtics Late Night Show, is now debating retirement. As reported on WEEI (Via Red's Army), Doc Rivers said the following about 'Sheed in the post game press conference, “You know, I don’t know if Rasheed will ever play again,” Rivers said. “You know, he’s one of them. I think he took that out on the floor with him. I think he is thinking about retiring, and I thought you could see that in his play. He was dying out there. When he got the cramps and the strains, he was just trying to figure out a way of staying on the floor.” Though Rasheed drove us crazy, his contributions in the post season have been much appreciated. He brought his heart, hard work, crafty veteran experience and detiorating body to the starting line-up in game seven. He did not disappoint. 'Sheed played 35 minutes through pain and contributed 11 points and 8 rebounds. I can understand Rasheed contemplating retirement and though the accomplishments of his career will be more remember in Portland and Detroit, Celtics fans should not forget what this guy did during the post season while wearing green.

Kevin Garnett has been the spirit and sole of the Celtic. He has left his heart and everything in him on the court. He has suffered through injuries and played through severe pain. In an awkward moment, Kevin Garnett had words with his home crowd in Boston as the fans rained down boo's on their own team. Garnett hurt fans. The fans, grateful for everything he has done during his short time here, quickly forgot-- it was only right to do so. Kevin Garnett will be back next season and, though we have seen moments of greatness as the season and playoffs wore on, we just don't know if we will ever see the vintage Big Ticket again. I will take KG in any form. He showed his worth at key moments during this playoff run. The most worthwhile qualities that Garnett offers to the Celtics can no longer be displayed on the stat sheet-- they are intangibles. The spirit and the heart of this squad. The unquestionable leader. I will look forward to #5 pumping his chest on opening night in October and we should all be thankful for that.Kendrick Perkins is now looking forward to knee surgery and a summer of rehab. We are unsure if he will be ready to return in the fall. We look forward to a speedy return for Perk but, for god sakes, take your time! We need that knee to be completely rehabbed before you step back out onto the parquet floor. You have a long future ahead of you in green and are certainly part of the rebuilding process, whenever that should begin.Paul Pierce will definitely be back next season. He is a Celtic lifer. I am going to keep this brief. The captain has made his impact on the Celtics history books. One championship or five championships, Paul should be able to sit proud among the Celtics legendary alumni. Paul, in my mind, you are now a legend. Thank-you.More post-series thoughts and reflections to follow on NSS. Certainly there is a lot more to say. A lot more to discuss. I just need some time to digest all of this. Change is on the horizon in Boston. As Celtics fans, we must learn to embrace it. We must take the hits and understand that Danny must now look to build around a young point guard that is now unquestionably the leader of the team.

I will say it again... I am completely full of Celtic-Pride today and I have the 2010 squad to thank for it.
I will close with this last thought for NBA fans. The Celtics starting five is still undefeated in any series they've played in. Thank you Celtics.
Published in Archive

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The 2009-10 Celtics have drawn comparison to the post '86 squad, a team that struggled to remain competitive while the aging bodies of Dennis Johnson, Scott Wedman, Robert Parish, Kevin McHale, Bill Walton and Larry Bird began to decay. The Celtics of that era remained very competitive and led the Eastern Conference in 1987 and 1988. After appearing in the NBA Finals in 1987, the Celtics failed to return. The 1988 Eastern Conference Finals versus the Piston featured a Celtics team that looked to be burned out from nearly a decade of Finals appearances and three NBA titles.The 1989 season was a bust as Larry Bird only played in 19 games, succumbing to bone spurs in both feet. Danny Ainge was traded mid-season (heartbreaking to me) to help bring some much needed length to a front line void of Larry Bird.The 1990 season headlined the return of a healthy Bird. The league-wide talk was a return to championship form. The result-- team chemistry issues, an ineffective new coach (Jimmy Rogers) and a first round playoff exit.The 1991 team (57-25), perhaps the last truly dominant Celtics team for the next 17 years, started the season very strong, was reinvigorated by the addition of youthful guards Dee Brown and Brian Shaw, accentuated by the emerging star status of the late Reggie Lewis, and anchored by the stability of the original big three. The three legends slowly fell to injuries and the team was ditched from the playoffs by the dreaded Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Semi's.Do these Celtics teams, finishing out the "Original Big Three Era", draw any similarities to the current day roster? Slightly, yes. Danny Ainge would disagree, however, though still citing his displeasure with the team's current play. Ainge recently told the media,From the Boston Herald: 329_ainge__1239922418_4719“You can’t sit around and wait,” he said. “To be honest, I don’t see a lot of similarities between the ’86 team and this one.“I don’t buy into those excuses,” Ainge said of the long-term argument. “The bottom line is that we’re a better team than (how) we’re playing. We’re just not showing it. We’re playing well some times, and not well at others. (The players) just need to focus like the coaches focus.“If we’re not paying attention to that, and we’re thinking that we’re so good, then we’re in trouble. I see a difference in how we play when we have our backs to the wall, so you can tell that we have what we need, but it has to be more than that.”“Our team can win right now without focusing on the little things, but that’s not going to last. (Coach Doc Rivers) is doing a good job, and the players want to win and do it. Are they willing to pay the price in practice? But I don’t think there’s much to it yet.” When I read this story in the Herald this morning, I was kind of satisfied that Ainge spoke up. Fact is, Danny Ainge was their during the tragic demise of the late 80's Celtics. He witnessed the struggles of a team frustrated by their inability to utilize the strategies that had, in preaingeredvious year's, made them unstoppable. Of any member of the Boston community, Ainge has the right to draw or dispel comparisons to the team's he started for, contributed so much to and was traded away from.Many people believe that front office officials and team owners don't have any place publicly voicing their dissatisfaction with the line-ups they recruited. I can't say I disagree. Nothing frustrates me more then seeing Mark Cuban sitting behind the Mavs bench yelling into the ears of Rick Carlisle's players. Their is no place for that nonsense. You hire a coach for a reason-- now let the guy coach.On the flip side, Danny rarely meddles into his coaches business. However, though Doc Rivers is one of the league's best skippers, he has become like a broken record. At this moment, I feel a higher voice needs to be heard, a voice that worked closely with Red Auerbach over their relationship that spanned 23 years. One that has fought the battles for the green and now holds the keys to the team's ignition.
Published in Archive

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Larry H. Russell

Senior editor and featured columnist for CLNS Radio. Celtics writer and historian. E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .