When the Boston Celtics traded Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry to the Brooklyn Nets this last off-season, GM Danny Ainge pretty much admitted that the men in green were set to rebuild. He kept Rajon Rondo, had a bunch of misfits, and hired Brad Stevens out of college to coach the team.
Now, the Celtics are loaded with draft picks, and they are losing enough to draft high in this year’s draft. Ainge now has 16 draft picks over the next six years, and he is still making trades to acquire more. He recently traded Marshon Brooks and Jordan Crawford for more assets, and he spoke about why he did that.
“I don’t do deals just for the sake of change,” said Ainge. “We change for the purpose of progress.
“In the deal that we did with Jordan (Crawford) and MarShon (Brooks), as an example, we like those guys, but we really want to see Phil (Pressey) play. And it was tough for him to get minutes and opportunities. With Rondo coming back, Phil wasn’t going to (get) a chance to play much.
“On top of getting the assets, we like Joel Anthony’s defense, and we like getting the draft picks and all that. But there are so many more things that go on top of it — getting opportunities for development. When we started the season, we just had logjams everywhere.”
Ainge has done a phenomenal job with the Celtics, and trading for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen back in 2007 shows that he is willing to make the tough moves to win. Admitting that you need to rebuild could be the toughest decision a general manager ever makes, but Ainge seems poised to make the right choice:
I’ve always believed that you build through the draft,” he said. “And whether those drafted players are Al Jefferson, who you love, and Delonte West, who we developed and loved, and then move them for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen — or whether those draft picks turn into Rajon Rondo or Paul Pierce and they’re with you forever.
“So the draft is really important, and now we have a lot of assets. Draft picks are always tradable. Sometimes players aren’t always tradable, once they expose themselves on the court. Draft picks almost always are tradable. But development is really important for us, and I’m happy with the development of Kelly Olynyk and Phil Pressey and Jared Sullinger and Vitor (Faverani). Vitor has been a little inconsistent, which you’d expect with inconsistent minutes and a guy coming from playing European ball his whole life. It’s a whole different life.”
Reports say that they may trade Rajon Rondo, but Ainge seems to have a plan, and he is executing it well. They could very well be right back in contention if they pick wisely. Draft picks don’t always pan out –just look at the Cavs– so they will need to draft correctly, and like he spoke about, development will be the key.