By Julian Edlow
"I’ve got confidence that with all these picks and these young guys and our willingness to spend money that we can get there. We’re a patient group. We will take a multiyear plan if that’s what it takes. But I think this June there could be some fireworks. I think this June we’ve got so many pieces to this puzzle that we might be able to shake loose a real piece or two for this team going forward. So, I’m hoping it’s sooner rather than later.” — Wyc Grousbeck, March of 2014.
So here we are. Almost three full years of waiting for fireworks.
The long wait isn't Boston’s fault … nobody can make a Kevin Durant-type free agent sign here. No stud player has been traded over the last few seasons, so the C’s haven't been missing out on anything. It takes two to tango, and as Danny Ainge has been telling us, there simply are no difference-makers available on the trade market.
That was a lie.
DeMarcus Cousins was indeed available, and the Celtics sat there and watched him get traded for ten cents on the dollar.
After covering the Celtics on CelticsLife for a couple of years before working two seasons on the beat at WEEI, I haven’t written about the C’s at all this season. I miss it, but I haven’t been fired up enough to actually write about anything … until now.
One of the reasons is that I trust the front office so much. Ownership is willing to do what it takes, and Danny has always shown just the right amount of aggressiveness, while remaining patient. All of those guys are very good at their jobs, but they got this one wrong.
The Celtics have been stock piling “assets” for nearly four years for exactly this occasion — and they blew it. By the way, how many times have we heard that freaking word over the past few years? “Assets.” Boston’s assets will bring the stars it needs on the trade market.
Unless Ainge uses all those assets himself and fails to ever cash in. He had a built in excuse before the Boogie trade. Now he’s got nothing. Assets falling out of his ears and nose, but no willingness to gamble with them.
As a Celtics fan, how can you not feel like we’ve been lied to for the past three years?
Ainge practically had too many assets, stashing two first-round picks overseas this season. And when the biggest name since Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett finally become available, you just sit there and watch?
I get that Cousins has problems. If the price tag was both of the Brooklyn picks and some combination of Marcus Smart, Jay Crowder and Jaylen Brown, maybe I hold off. MAYBE. But one first-rounder (which figures to land somewhere in the 10-20 range) and freaking Buddy Hield?
Boston got back more than that for Rajon Rondo! A mid-first-rounder and Crowder.
The Celtics could've blown that offer out of the water with just one Brooklyn pick that’s already essentially guaranteed to be in the top-4 picks and any of the aforementioned players.
Ainge reportedly never even inquired about Cousins, which sends a strong message that he’s not at all interested in his antics. I respect taking such a bold stance, but given the price tag, how do you not roll the dice on this one?
“Winning begins with culture and character matters,” Vlade Divac said in the Kings’ statement following the trade. As clear a shot at Boogie as you can take. I happen to agree, but doesn't Boston have the right culture built already? Sacramento has never even given Cousins a chance when it comes to having stability. Boston offers all of that.
Paul George and Jimmy Butler are great. I hope the Celtics can pull off a move for one of them. But guess what? Even if they do, the Celtics are going to regret not adding Cousins. Neither George or Butler have the potential to be a top-5 player in the NBA. If he’s in the right position and locked in, Cousins does. You can’t teach that. You can’t coach that. That’s pure talent, which is exactly what the Celtics need.
Yet they sat there and watched Cousins slip through their fingers when everyone knows that they have more to offer than any other team.
The Celtics could’ve had Cousins on their roster and flat out chose not to — that’s a fact.
The Celts better make a LOT of noise in free agency or NAIL these Brooklyn picks. If they don’t, they’re going to regret not pouncing on Cousins for a long, long time.
But my frustration isn’t about that. It’s about how we’re being treated as fans. Being a Celtics fan is a lot easier than rooting for most teams. We’re lucky, overall. But for nearly four years we’ve been putting our trust in the idea that once a transcendent star becomes available, nobody will be able to get in the way of the Celtics acquiring that guy.
That clearly wasn't the case, and it’s not sitting well with me.
Would love to hear how you all feel. Get at me on the Twitter machine — @julianedlow.
By Julian Edlow