Having long lamented Larry Bird's and Kevin McHale's injury-riddled twilight years, Danny Ainge traded Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce when they still had (some) value. However, since he didn't trade KG or Pierce when they would have demanded serious packages, and he let Ray Allen walk for nothing, Ainge, like Red Auerbach, still might have made his move too late.
Defending his decisions, the Celtics GM argued that KG, Pierce, and Allen were in different situations than Boston's earlier Big 3:
"The difference was that Paul and KG, and Ray (Allen) for that matter, were all playing at much higher level than Kevin (McHale) and Larry (Bird) were playing, in their thirties. Those guys didn't even make it to their mid-30s. Larry had two Achilles tendon surgeries and back surgery, and Kevin had the foot that never got better after he had the surgeries on his foot...It's apples and oranges as to who those guys are and who they were and the longevity and durability of their careers."
Though Ainge was willing to keep KG and Pierce for one last run, he thinks the trade benefit the team:
"But rather than have a farewell tour this year and sort of go by the wayside, to accumulate the young players we got and the draft picks, I think as hard as it is for some fans, as hard as it is for me to do as someone who cares a great deal about them, it was the right thing to do for the Celtics organization...Unprotected draft picks are hard to find, even from good teams, they're just hard to come by...And their age, there's not a big market for a 35...even when they were 35, let alone when they are 37...So to be able to get this many draft picks for guys at their age, it doesn't happen very often and it wouldn't have happened if it wasn't a team that was willing to spend a lot of tax dollars. So we needed to take that opportunity." "
Regarding Ray Allen trade attempts:
"So what happens is, in the Big Three era, I was close to a trade for one of them a couple times...But that was more Ray and that was because people wanted Ray. Ray's contract was a little bit easier to swallow and he had a skill. It had nothing to do with us wanting to get rid of Ray. And the ironic thing this year was we were offering Ray a no-trade clause. He could have come back and never been traded."
Though he will miss Pierce and KG, he's pleased with where they ended up:
"It just softens the blow that they get to go together and play on a great team."
-A. Sherrod Blakely
Ainge comes off as pretty honest in this interview: I definitely believe that he cared about his veteran stars but I understand why he traded them (though I don't think he should have).
What do you think of Ainge's comments, and his handling of the aging Big 3?
Follow Jacob on Twitter @TheReelJZ Jacob Zweiback 7/23/2013 10:00:00 PM Tweet