The other big name center to be had this Summer, DeAndre Jordan, also could have been a Celtic and was pretty much a no-brainer pick when he fell in the 2008 NBA draft. Danny took a reach and drafted J.R. Giddens instead.
The Green that got away. Ainge drafted Fab Melo instead.
But it's not just centers that the Celtics passed on. On the flip side, two of the best swingmen/forwards in this summer's free agent class, Draymond Green and Jimmy Butler could have easily been Celtics if Ainge had picked the best players available instead of going for need and big men busts Fab Melo and JaJuan Johnson.
So instead of Pruitt, Giddens, JaJuan, and Fab we could have had Gasol, Jordan, Butler, and Draymond. Think about that for a minute. Ainge is often lauded as a fantastic drafter, but I'd say he's average at best. Sure other teams passed on these players as well, but that's besides the point and a poor excuse. To be a great team you need great decision makers. Not just to be as good as the also rans.
It is VERY unlikely any of the above mentioned players will land in Boston this Summer. Players love playing in Boston and I have no doubt all of these players would have re-signed with the Celtics if we drafted them. The key is getting players in green. Then they love it here. It's very hard to sign another team's premier free agents. Especially if you're not a warm weather/tax free state team. Gasol and Jordan will likely remain in Memphis and L.A. respectively. Both teams can offer more than anyone else and both teams are contenders.
The Warriors will match any Green offer. Same goes for the Bulls and Butler. So while technically there are some great names on the free agent market this summer, the Celtics best and likely only chance to have had them wear Celtics green is if they had been drafted by Boston. Luckily the Celtics have plenty of draft picks in the next few years to use on potential premier players. They are going to be there for the taking. The question is will Ainge draft them or the next Pruitt, Giddens, Johnson and Melo?
p.s. Is it just me or does it seem that half the players in the NBA now have the third letter of their names capitalized?