|Five worst Celtics draft day moves of Danny Ainge era||06.27.12 at 7:20 pm ET|
When Danny Ainge was hired as Celtics president of operations in 2003, he inherited a team on the upswing that had just come off of a pair of playoff exits following six straight seasons missing the playoffs.
Nine years later, Ainge has become known across the league for his bold decision-making, something that has helped the Celtics rise back to the elite of the NBA over the last five seasons. But despite the success, it hasn’t gone without some controversy and questionable moves.
As Ainge enters his 10th NBA draft in the Celtics front office, here’s a look at the top five worst draft day moves Ainge has made and how they’ve panned out.
5. J.R. Giddens, 30th pick, 2008 – Heralded as one of the best scorers in the 2008 draft class, Giddens simply just never panned out in the NBA. Considered to be a potential replacement for Tony Allen, who eventually left the Celtics in free agency, Giddens couldn’t live up to the defensive standards that Doc Rivers stresses and never received much playing time.
It didn’t begin well for Giddens, who declined to participate in minicamp after being drafted because he hadn’t agreed to a contract. After finally signing, the 6-foot-5 guard was put on assignment with the Utah Flash of the NBA D-League before getting called up to the Celtics in February 2009. He saw very limited action and saw eight minutes during the season.
In 2009-10, Giddens saw an increased role but still didn’t see much playing time. He played 4.7 minutes per game in 21 appearances, which even included a start on Jan. 2, 2010. He scored a career-high 10 points and posted nine rebounds against the 76ers on March 19, 2010, as a member of the Knicks after being traded by the Celtics. For his career, Giddens averaged 1.9 points, 1.4 rebounds and 6.5 minutes per game.
Where is he now?: On Feb. 18, 2010, Giddens was traded by the Celtics as part of a deal that sent him, Bill Walker and Eddie House to the Knicks in exchange for Nate Robinson and Marcus Landry. He saw an increased role with the Knicks but chose to leave the NBA after the season to pursue a career overseas. He spent 2010-11 in Poland before signing with PAOK Thessaloniki, in Greece, where he currently plays.
4. Gabe Pruitt, 32nd pick, 2007 – Ainge followed up his masterful trade of bringing Ray Allen to the Celtics by drafting Pruitt in the second round of the 2007 draft looking to create some backcourt depth. Unfortunately for Ainge, the Pruitt pick didn’t exactly pan out as well as his trade for Allen. After an impressive career at USC, Pruitt rarely saw the floor with the Celtics.
Pruitt, a 6-foot-4 point guard, was stuck behind Rajon Rondo, Sam Cassell and Eddie House in the rotation during the 2007-08 championship season and played most of his time with the Utah Flash in the D-League. In 2008-09, he received an increased role with the Celtics, appearing in 47 games and earning almost eight minutes per game. While he did serve as a backup for Rondo, Pruitt was largely a disappointment and a draft pick Ainge would like to forget. In his two-year NBA career, Pruitt played a total of 461 minutes and scored only 125 points.
Where is he now?: After being waived by the Celtics in the summer of 2009, Pruitt joined the Knicks during their training camp, but he was waived shortly after. After stints with the Los Angeles D-Fenders and the Utah Flash in the D-League, he started 2011-12 with the Sioux Falls Skyforce and then signed with the Magic. He appeared in two preseason games with them before being waived again.
3. Marcus Banks, 13th pick, 2003 – Ainge’s first big move included one of his biggest mistakes when he traded 2003 first-round picks Troy Bell and Dahntay Jones to the Grizzlies for Kendrick Perkins and Banks. While Perkins certainly panned out, the same cannot be said for Banks. Very athletic and quick, the 6-foot-2 point guard never reached his potential with the Celtics.
Considered a good defender and ball handler, Banks couldn’t use those traits to become a consistent NBA point guard. He consistently made poor decisions with the ball and couldn’t hit outside shots. He played a lot of minutes with the Celtics and appeared in 81 games in both of his first two seasons. In his rookie year, he averaged 17.1 minutes, 5.9 points, 2.2 assists and 1.1 steals per game, but he couldn’t top those numbers in his final two seasons in Boston and ultimately was traded to make room for Delonte West.
Where is he now?: Banks has been a product of trade bait throughout his career. Including draft night in 2003, he’s been shipped five times, seeing time with the Timberwolves (where he averaged career-highs with 12.0 ppg and 4.7 apg in 2005-06), Suns, Heat and Raptors. In 2012, he played for the Idaho Stampede in the D-League.
2. Gerald Green, 18th pick, 2005 – Projected to be a lottery pick in the 2005 draft, Green kept falling and falling until the Celtics took him with the 18th pick. Ainge, like many others, considered the selection to be a steal, but the high-flying guard only showed glimpses of his potential during his short stay in Boston.
The youthfulness of Green, who entered the league out of high school, may have gotten the best of him as he could have used some seasoning to complement his raw and athletic skillset. The 6-foot-8 winger made the most of his noise with the Celtics through the form of dunks, winning the 2007 Dunk Contest, which was one of the Celtics’ lone bright spots during their dreadful 2006-07 campaign in which they lost a franchise-record 18 games in a row.
Despite his rawness and immaturity, Green displayed flashes of his potential toward the end of the 2006-07 season, when he received an increased starting role. He went off for a career-high 33 points on April 10, 2007, and averaged 10.4 points per game for the season, but he wasn’t able to find consistency. He was later traded in 2007 in a package deal that brought Kevin Garnett to the Celtics.
Where is he now?: After brief stops in Russia and China, Green is back in the NBA, now with the Nets. He played in 31 games with them in 2011-12, averaging 12.9 points per game. With some experience and seasoning under his belt, Green could figure to be a key contributor next season as the Nets move to Brooklyn.
1. Trade for Sebastian Telfair, 2006 – After drafting Randy Foye with the No. 7 pick in the 2006 draft, Ainge opted to trade him along with Raef LaFrentz and Dan Dickau to the Blazers for Telfair, Theo Ratliff and a 2008 second-round pick. Telfair proved to be more hype for his own good and never panned out the way he was predicted to after a stellar high school career.
In 78 games – 30 of which he started – for the Celtics in 2006-07, Telfair averaged an underwhelming 6.1 points and 2.8 assists per game. Adding on to the disappointment, Telfair had several brushes with the law during his time with the Celtics. In October 2006, his $50,000 chain was stolen outside of a restaurant owned by rapper P. Diddy in New York, and in April 2007, Telfair and his friend were arrested and charged with felony possession of a weapon. During the 2007 offseason, Telfair was traded to Minnesota as part of the deal that brought Garnett to the Celtics.
What makes the trade for Telfair even more perplexing for Ainge was that Foye was eventually traded by the Blazers to the Timberwolves for Brandon Roy, who became the Rookie of the Year in 2006-07 and a three-time All-Star.
Where is he now?: Telfair spent 2011-12 with the Suns, playing in 60 games and averaging 6.1 points and 2.3 assists per game. He has a team option to return to Phoenix next season.
Honorable mention: Justin Reed, 40th pick, 2004; Orien Greene, 53rd pick, 2005