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Irish Coffee: Celtics sour grapes over David West

Celtics [1] president Danny Ainge lost out to former teammate Larry Bird [2] in the David West sweepstakes, and that left a bitter taste in the mouths of Ray Allen [3] and head coach Doc Rivers [4].

Ainge reportedly offered a sign-and-trade package of Jermaine O’Neal [5] and a younger player to the Hornets for West, who would then be signed to a three-year, $29 million deal, according to ESPN.com’s Jackie MacMullan [6].

Instead, Bird signed the free agent to a two-year, $20 million contract, offering a higher annual value and a shorter window until West’s next free agency period, when he likely wouldn’t be coming off reconstructive knee surgery.

“Once it got down to the end, I think his ego kicked back in,” Allen told MacMullan. “He wanted the dollars. I guess it comes down to ‘What is a championship worth to you?’ Think of all the guys who have made $20 million and could be considered one of the best ever, but they get chided because they never won. We [the Big Three] all had to do less when we won. We’re still taking less to make it work. But it’s worth it. No one can ever say to KG [Kevin Garnett [7]], Paul [Pierce] or me, ‘You guys never got your ring.'”

“I’m very disappointed,” Rivers told Jackie Mac, “but we’re moving on with the guys we have.”

Allen told ESPN.com he had it on good authority that he and West were kindred spirits willing to sacrifice money to bring another title to the Celtics. Turns out his source (their mutual private banker) had it all wrong. Believe it or not, Garnett is the one who removed his own emotions from West’s equation.

“You don’t know what his preferences were,” Garnett told MacMullan. “He’s a Xavier guy. Maybe Indiana was safe for him. You can’t take it personally when guys don’t come. To be honest with you, I’m just happy for him that he’s healthy and can continue playing.”

This ordeal raises a couple larger questions about the Celtics: 1) Is Boston once again a less than desirable destination for free agents? and 2) How the hell do they deal with that fact?

Really, the only free agent Ainge convinced to sign in Boston this offseason is Chris Wilcox [8], and we don’t know how many other teams targeted him for $3 million. Sure, Ainge was unwilling to sign guys for multiple years, maintaining the team’s cap flexibility — but for whom?

They’ll have the cap space to offer Dwight Howard [9] a max contract, if Howard reaches free agency in 2012, but what if he doesn’t want to sign in Boston?

While Garnett denied any concern about the demographics Boston, Rivers reiterated to ESPN.com the weather issue many players have about the city. “I hate to say that, but it’s true,” he said. “New York and Chicago have the same issue too, but they’re really big cities, and that’s attractive to other guys in the league.”

It’s no wonder Ainge is rumored among almost every single major trade over the past few weeks. Heck, Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix mentioned on WEEI that Ainge even dangled Rajon Rondo [10] for Carmelo Anthony before the Knicks landed him last season. Expect anybody and everybody to be offered throughout this year.

If money won’t do the convincing in the offseason, it’s easier to change people’s minds about Boston and its fans once you get them here. If not, cap space won’t do Ainge any good.


Piggybacking on that concept, Rivers admitted as much when he told Sports Illustrated’s Ian Thomsen the Celtics will be open to allocating some of that potential cap space to a valuable young player if they can trade for him.

“We’re going to try to put everything into this year,” Rivers told SI.com. “And if that means at some point we may have to use the cap space for a good young player, we’ll do it. But we’re going to do everything we can to win.”

We’ve heard all the discussion about whether the championship window closes this year or closed when the Heat eliminated the Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals, and the C’s acquisitions this offseason don’t appear to have made them any better, but Rivers made three interesting points to SI.com [11] about this season.


Four other players have been undergone heart surgery similar to the one that will cost Celtics forward Jeff Green [12] the 2011-12 NBA season: Etan Thomas, Robert “Tractor” Traylor, Ronny Turiaf and Fred Hoiberg.

While the 6-foot-8, 300-pound Traylor suffered a heart attack and died in May, Thomas and Turiaf are still playing and Hoiberg had further heart complications that required a pacemaker and steered him into coaching rather than playing again. Both Turiaf and Hoiberg have reached out to Green in recent days.

SI.com listed [15] Celtics first-round pick JaJuan Johnson [16] as one of five rookies who could make an impact in 2011-12. “Johnson has a nice mid-range jump shot and spent a week during the lockout working out with Rondo, developing some early chemistry with the Celtics’ point guard,” wrote Mannix. “If Johnson’s slender, 220-pound frame can handle the physical toll of matching up with bigger, stronger players, he has a chance to be a factor.”

(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’€™s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach [17] on Twitter.)