Red’s daughter: Auerbach wouldn’t have traded Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett
|10.11.13 at 1:18 pm ET|
Danny Ainge always pledged he’d pull the trigger when Red Auerbach never could — trading a couple Boston legends in the twilight of their careers — and now Auerbach’s daughter is questioning the current Celtics president’s pride after the deal that sent Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn.
“Given [Red Auberbach's] track record and philosophy of life, not in his lifetime would that have happened,” Randy Auerbach told Yahoo Sports. “He really took a lot of pride in players finishing their careers with the Celtics. That was something very important to him.
“If it was for Chris Paul, maybe. We got nothing [for Pierce and Garnett]. You don’t trade laterally, and we didn’t even get laterally. But I hope it works. Nothing would give me more pleasure than to be wrong.”
The way Ainge tells the story, Red shared a couple trade scenarios he ultimately rejected with Ainge, Larry Bird and Kevin McHale during a Christmas party in the early 1990s: 1) Bird to the Pacers for Chuck Person, Herb Williams and Steve Stipanovich, and 2) McHale to the Mavericks for Detlef Schrempf and Sam Perkins. Ainge claims he urged Auerbach to make the trades, but Bird denies it went down like that.
“Knowing my father, I don’t think trading them was an option,” Randy Auerbach added. “If you look at his track record, he had more players start and finish their careers with the Celtics than any other team. That’s Celtic pride.
“Players didn’t come and go then. I don’t recognize half the team now.”
We could go back and forth about whether or not Red made the right decision. Ainge cites the health issues that forced both Bird and McHale into early retirement at age 35 in 1992 and 1993, respectively, and the 22-year drought between Celtics titles from 1986-2008. The counterargument? A string of tragic luck, including the deaths of Len Bias and Reggie Lewis, had more to do with the C’s prolonged inability to reach the NBA summit than not acquiring five players with just three All-Star appearances between them.
Regardless, Ainge is the only one here with the unique perspective as Bird and McHale’s former teammate who eventually dealt two Celtics legends for a haul that included three first-round draft picks, so who are we to argue?
“A deal came up to us that we thought was best for the Celtics franchise,” Ainge told Yahoo Sports. “It was good for everybody involved. Those deals are hard to find. There haven’t been many of those deals beforehand with a team that was willing to pay this type of luxury tax and give up a lot of young athletes. Those situations are unique.
“The packages were magnificent, I thought at the time and still [do]. In today’s day and age, it’s a little bit different. You rarely see players of their age — 35, 36, 37 years old — getting value or even first-round picks for players of that age. That is very, very rare, even if it’s a late first-round pick. You just don’t get first-round picks for 35-year-old guys anymore.” Unless, of course, Billy King is the general manager on the other end of the phone.