The 7 best trades the Boston Celtics have made under Danny Ainge

They call him “Trader Dan” because, within the first year of Danny Ainge being put in charge of basketball operations for the Boston Celtics, he had jettisoned Antoine Walker, Tony Delk, Tony Battie, Eric Williams, Kedrick Brown and coach Jim O’Brien. Ainge put an end to an era of Celtics basketball that included a trip to the 2002 Eastern Conference finals and not much more.

A lot of those early trades amounted to sending away a quarter for two dimes and a nickel or vice versa. But Ainge never lost his aggressiveness, as Friday’s reports of a possible Celtics-Philadelphia 76ers trade show. USA TODAY Sports’ Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt confirmed the initial reports from ESPN’s Marc Stein and Zach Lowe:

The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers are in serious trade discussions that would yield the Sixers the No. 1 overall pick from Boston for the No. 3 overall pick and future picks, a person familiar with the negotiations told USA TODAY Sports. The person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly until a deal is official.

Celtics fans have learned to trust Ainge in trades. He may not always make the best draft choices — Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo in 2012 proved that — but he knows how to target other front offices and steal their best stuff. That’s why the Celtics have the NBA’s best mix of current talent and future assets in the NBA.

Here’s a look back at seven deals where Ainge clearly came out on top (trade language via the incomparable Basketball-Reference):

7. The Rajon Rondo purchase

Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

June 28, 2006: Traded a 2007 1st round draft pick (Rudy Fernandez was later selected) to the Phoenix Suns for Brian Grant and Rajon Rondo.

This would be higher on the list if Ainge hadn’t dealt away this pick a year earlier to bring back Antoine Walker. The essence here is that the Suns were cheap and had a loaded roster, so they saved a couple million. In exchange, the Celtics got their best point guard since Dennis Johnson.

6. The Grizzlies and Pelicans bizarreness

January 12, 2015: As part of a 3-team trade, the Boston Celtics traded Jeff Green to the Memphis Grizzlies; the Memphis Grizzlies traded Tayshaun Prince and a future 1st round draft pick to the Boston Celtics; the Memphis Grizzlies traded Quincy Pondexter and a 2015 2nd round draft pick (Branden Dawson was later selected) to the New Orleans Pelicans; the New Orleans Pelicans traded Austin Rivers to the Boston Celtics; and the New Orleans Pelicans traded Russ Smith to the Memphis Grizzlies. (Memphis will receive a traded player exception.)

That’s a mouthful, but here’s the short version: The Celtics gave up Green, who they didn’t really have any use for, and received Prince and a still-to-convey first-rounder from the Grizzlies as well as Rivers from the Pelicans. They turned around and traded Rivers almost immediately to the Clippers for a second-rounder, while Prince turned out to be an important salary piece in another deal on this list.

5. The Rajon Rondo vanquishing

December 18, 2014: Traded Dwight Powell and Rajon Rondo to the Dallas Mavericks for Jae Crowder, Jameer Nelson, Brandan Wright, a 2016 1st round draft pick and a 2016 2nd round draft pick. (Boston also receives $13M trade exception.)

Rondo was in a contract year and not the ideal point guard for a rebuilding team. Crowder has become an excellent, hard-nosed starting forward since this trade basically unlocked his versatile tool kit. And they turned around a month later and traded Wright for a future first-round pick, while the trade exception was used in the above Grizzlies-Pelicans deal.

4. The Isaiah Thomas hustle

Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports

February 19, 2015: As part of a 3-team trade, the Boston Celtics traded Marcus Thornton and a 2016 1st round draft pick to the Phoenix Suns; the Boston Celtics traded Tayshaun Prince to the Detroit Pistons; the Detroit Pistons traded Gigi Datome and Jonas Jerebko to the Boston Celtics; and the Phoenix Suns traded Isaiah Thomas to the Boston Celtics. (PHO 2016 1st round pick received from BOS is CLE’s pick and is top-10 protected.)

The amazing part here is that the Celitcs received the two best players in this trade and only had to give up someone else’s end-of-first-round pick. But Jerebko, a solid combo forward, is a foot note. Thomas was the Suns’ sixth man, and now he’s one of the most efficient and productive scorers in the NBA as a two-time All-Star.

2 and 3. The assembly of the Big 3

June 28, 2007: Traded Jeff Green, Wally Szczerbiak, Delonte West and a 2008 2nd round draft pick (Trent Plaisted was later selected) to the Seattle SuperSonics for Ray Allen and Glen Davis.
July 31, 2007: Traded Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair, a 2009 1st round draft pick (Wayne Ellington was later selected) and a 2009 1st round draft pick (Jonny Flynn was later selected) to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Garnett.

To be clear, the Celtics actually gave up a reasonable amount in both trades. Jefferson was a stud already; he averaged 16 and 11 as a 22-year-old in 2006-07. Gomes had been outstanding in his first two years in Boston as a floor-stretching power forward. Gerald Green was two years removed from high school and still viewed as a potential high-volume scorer. Jeff Green was the current No. 5 overall pick in the draft. West was better than anyone likes to admit, for both the Celtics and then the Cleveland Cavaliers.

But these two trades got the Celtics one title, another trip to the NBA Finals and another trip to the Eastern Conference finals. Garnett and Allen were exactly what Paul Pierce needed to take the Celtics to this next step. Fun debate: Which trade was better? They gave up less for Allen, but they got more from Garnett. Still, we’ll say this team would have been plenty good with Jefferson and Gomes.

1. The Brooklyn Nets fleecing

Debby Wong/USA TODAY Sports

July 12, 2013: Traded Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and D.J. White to the Brooklyn Nets for Keith Bogans, MarShon Brooks, Kris Humphries, Kris Joseph, Gerald Wallace, a 2014 1st round draft pick (James Young was later selected), a 2016 1st round draft pick (Jaylen Brown was later selected) and a 2018 1st round draft pick. Boston has the option to swap 1st round draft picks with Brooklyn in 2017.

This is a severe, brutal trade, truly one of the worst in NBA history. Yes, the Celtics may dull the impact if they do trade this year’s No. 1 — thus mitigating the hurt when their 2017 draft pick shows up at Barclays Center. But this pick is what allowed the Celtics to quickly rebuild and position themselves as a long-term NBA power again. “Trader Dan” was a nickname from his early years in charge, but he never proved it as correct as he did on Draft Night 2013.

Check Also

These are the final three players at the 2017 World Series of Poker Main Event

The 2017 World Series of Poker Main Event, with its $8.15 million prize, is down …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *