GM Ainge Generates Few Regrets

One measure of the success of a general manager’s tenure is how many players “got away” that you wished you had back.  By that measure Danny Ainge’s years at the helm of the Celtics has been a resounding success.  Mulling this as I went to sleep last night I pondered on which players I really wished still dressed in green.  I only came up with one and thought, “That can’t be right.  Surely there are more than that.”  Today I pulled up the rosters since the 2002-2003 season and went through them.  See below, where current members of the roster are underlined when they were first added (except Pierce who was drafted in 1999):

2002-2003 2003-2004 2004-2005 2005-2006
Vin Baker Chucky Atkins Tony Allen Tony Allen
Tony Battie Vin Baker Marcus Banks Marcus Banks
Mark Blount Marcus Banks Mark Blount Mark Blount
J.R. Bremer Dana Barros Ricky Davis Ricky Davis
Kedrick Brown Tony Battie Tom Gugliotta Dan Dickau
Mark Bryant Mark Blount Al Jefferson Ryan Gomes
Bimbo Coles Kedrick Brown Raef LaFrentz Gerald Green
Tony Delk Ricky Davis Walter McCarty Orien Greene
Grant Long Brandon Hunter Gary Payton Al Jefferson
Walter McCarty Mike James Kendrick Perkins Dwayne Jones
Mikki Moore Jumaine Jones Paul Pierce Raef LaFrentz
Paul Pierce Raef LaFrentz Justin Reed Michael Olowokandi
Bruno Sundov Walter McCarty Antoine Walker Kendrick Perkins
Antoine Walker Chris Mihm Jiri Welsch Paul Pierce
Eric Williams Kendrick Perkins Delonte West Justin Reed
Shammond Williams Paul Pierce Brian Scalabrine
Ruben Wolkowyski Michael Stewart Wally Szczerbiak

2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
Tony Allen Ray Allen Ray Allen Ray Allen
Ryan Gomes Tony Allen Tony Allen Tony Allen
Gerald Green P.J. Brown Glen Davis Marquis Daniels
Al Jefferson Sam Cassell Kevin Garnett Glen Davis
Michael Olowokandi Glen Davis J.R. Giddens Michael Finley
Kendrick Perkins Kevin Garnett Eddie House Kevin Garnett
Paul Pierce Eddie House Stephon Marbury J.R. Giddens
Kevinn Pinkney Kendrick Perkins Mikki Moore Eddie House
Leon Powe Paul Pierce Patrick O'Bryant Lester Hudson
Theo Ratliff Scot Pollard Kendrick Perkins Oliver Lafayette
Allan Ray James Posey Paul Pierce Marcus Landry
Rajon Rondo Leon Powe Leon Powe Kendrick Perkins
Brian Scalabrine Gabe Pruitt Gabe Pruitt Paul Pierce
Wally Szczerbiak Rajon Rondo Rajon Rondo Nate Robinson
Sebastian Telfair Brian Scalabrine Brian Scalabrine Rajon Rondo
Delonte West Bill Walker Brian Scalabrine
Bill Walker

In compiling and reviewing this collection several things struck me, almost all directly speaking to the deft management of Ainge. 

First, it is stunning to me that indeed there is only one player that I would definitely add to today’s squad, Al Jefferson.  Two, there is only one other that I would clear space to add, Ryan Gomes—although I suspect that there are many among you that would argue for Tony Allen, and against Gomes.  Three, it is amazing to me how little production any of the others provided for subsequent teams after they left the Celtics.  You might make a case for Ricky Davis or Tony Battie but I miss their contributions not at all.  Some will argue for Antoine Walker or Leon Powe but don’t feel either played well after their departure.  Even Eddie House and James Posey saw their effectiveness fall far short of their contributions while with the Celtics.  Four, it is quite remarkable how many of these players were out of the NBA within two years of their leaving the shamrock green.  Finally, while this year has often been described as reenlisting last year’s team for one more try, notice that only nine players are still on this squad which means that there was about as much turnover as any time other than the wholesale changes cleaning house in 2003 or the cupboard emptying summer acquiring Garnett and Allen in 2007.

One last observation, looking at how little most of these players accomplished after leaving the Celtics, how did Danny manage to get anything for them, let alone build it into a Championship?