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What is he really thinking?
Danny Ainge's trades and free-agent acquisitions might seem unpredictable. But he does send out clues as to potential moves. During his playing days with the Celtics, Ainge became a student of Red Auerbach, specifically Red's wheeling and dealing.

The Isaiah Thomas trade was predictable for several reasons. Lesson number one: You did not irritate Red, and you do not irritate Danny, Auerbach traded Cedric Maxwell after a time when Cedric was a serious annoyance to many Celts players and staff, including Red. Larry Bird had this to say about the Rubber Band Man trade during an interview (per Boston.com's Dan Shaughnessy):

He did quit on us. You can ask everybody. Everybody was mad at Max in the Finals that year. It was disruptive. You get a chance to win a championship . . .

Isaiah definitely irritated Danny with the comment (via CSNNE's A. Sherrod Blakely) "...Better back up the Brinks truck" when referring to his next contract. Admittedly, other factors were at play, but the Brinks truck comment set the stage.

Jae Crowder also created a stir when he publicly complained about the Boston fans cheering future free agent Gordon Hayward prior to a game against the Utah Jazz. Celts coach Brad Stevens responded to Crowder's tweets with this comment (per Boston.com's Brian Robb):

I talked to Jae this morning and the first thing he said was, obviously, he wished that he wouldn’t have expressed himself like that.

Lesson number two:Danny's utterances are filled with nebulous projections, but occasionally he reveals his true thoughts. He simply did not view Isaiah and Jae as the great players that could bring a championship. Here is a quote from Ainge (via HoopHype"s Mark Suleymanov):
We have a lot of good players, but we need some great ones.

Danny Ainge did not follow Red's lead when it came to retaining players well past their prime. Danny felt that Auerbach retained Bird and Kevin McHale too long. That did not happen with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. They were traded to the Brooklyn Nets in what has to be one of the greatest heists in NBA history. So lesson number three: Danny will not hold on to players well past their prime.

Shane Larkin photo/Grant Halverson/Getty Images North America
Lesson number four: Be on the alert for Celts moves that don't make sense at the time. The Shane Larkin signing was such a case. Acquiring another small guard indicated that Isaiah might be moved. Red Auerbach almost never signaled his next move, and neither does Ainge.

Lesson number five: Danny Ainge feels that size matters in the modern NBA. The Celts 1980's backcourt featured Danny at 6'5" and Dennis Johnson at 6'4". The recently-traded backcourt of Thomas and Avery Bradley measured at 5'9" and 6'2" respectively. A possible duo of Kyrie Irving (6'3") and Marcus Smart (6'4") would add a total of eight inches to the back court. That is quite significant.

Let's end with lesson number six: Danny's drafts, trades and free-agent signings seek to optimize talent and character-no rogues wanted. Red did it, and his protege has followed suit. Basketball talent alone won't produce success if not controlled.

There are two many examples to mention, but think about Celtic players from the Bob Cousy/Bill Russell/K.C. Jones era to the present with Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Talent coupled with high character produces success.

In his playing days. Danny Ainge was known by many as a shot-happy whiner, who now also happens to own two championship rings. He has become a very effective NBA executive. I wonder what current Celtic is quietly observing his actions with thoughts of a future coaching or GM position.

We have only solved a piece of puzzle. No one knows for sure what Danny's next move will be. Some feel adding Tony Allen to the roster would be a good move. CelticsLife.com's Odie Waukewan had this to say: "Allen could be just the guy to fill Bradley's vacant role as our premier defender, and would be a great mentor..."

Stay tuned for a heck of a season.


Danny Ainge photo credit: Christopher Evans/BostonHerald.com

Tom Lane 8/24/2017 04:55:00 PM Edit
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