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Irish Coffee: An in-depth look at Danny Ainge’s remarkable Celtics track record on personnel decisions

01.08.14 at 5:49 pm ET

We constantly examine the players Danny Ainge has acquired since becoming the Celtics‘ president of basketball operations in 2003, but rarely do we take a look at his departed assets. Bill Belichick is so often lauded for the lack of success in which his ex-Patriots have wallowed in, but Ainge’s batting average rivals The Hooded One, and that’s an important notion to keep in mind in this ever-changing Celtics world. Don’t believe me? See for yourself.

For the purposes of this exercise, we’re only looking at outgoing players who appeared in games for the Celtics. That rules out training camp invitees (I see you, Michael Sweetney) and immediately waived trade acquisitions (Hi, Donte Greene). Incoming players are an entirely different story, albeit another successful one (What up, Kevin Garnett?). So, without further adieu, here’s who Ainge bid adieu to (and, yes, I just used adieu twice in a sentence).


  • Let free agents Mark Bryant, Bimbo Coles, Grant Long, Mikki Moore, Ruben Wolkowyski walk July 2003.
  • Traded J.R. Bremer and Bruno Sundov July 2003.
  • Traded Tony Delk and Antoine Walker October 2003.
  • Traded Tony Battie, Kedrick Brown and Eric Williams December 2003.
  • Traded Mike James February 2004.

BRYANT: Never played again.
COLES: Played just one more season, averaging 1.3 points in 22 games for the Heat.
LONG: Never played again.
MOORE: Somehow lasted another eight seasons in the NBA, including another stint in Boston (see below), even averaging 9.2 points and 5.6 rebounds from 2006-08, but c’mon: This is Mikki Moore we’re talking about.
WOLKOWYSKI: Never played again.
BREMER: Averaged 3.3 points over 36 games for the Cavaliers and Warriors in 2003-04, his final season.
SUNDOV: Averaged 1.4 points over 36 games for the Cavaliers and Knicks from 2003-05, his final two seasons.
WALKER (see below): Averaged 14.6 points, 8.7 boards in 2003-04, but shot a career-worst 26.9 percent from 3.
BATTIE: Signed a four-year, $24.8 million deal in Orlando, and began declining in 2006-07.
BROWN: Averaged 1.5 points over 12 games the next seasons before playing his way out of the league.
WILLIAMS: Played for five teams over three more seasons before starring in Basketball Wives.
JAMES: Still in the league nine seasons later, including a career year (20.3 points, 5.8 assists) in 2005-06, although averaged double-digits just once more and has played for 12 different teams.


  • Let free agents Dana Barros, Brandon Hunter and Chris Mihm walk in July 2004.
  • Traded Chucky Atkins and Jumaine Jones in July 2004.
  • Traded Tom Gugliotta,Walter McCartyMichael Stewart and Jiri Welsch in February 2005.

BARROS: Never played again.
HUNTER: Averaged 3.1 points over 31 games in 2004-05, his final season.
MIHM: Played four more seasons for the Lakers, averaging 10.0 points and 6.5 rebounds in the first two years since leaving the C’s, but played only 41 games over his final two injury-riddled seasons.
ATKINS: Averaged 12.2 points and 4.0 assists over his next three seasons, and then fell off the map.
JONES: Out of the league within three seasons, but averaged 10.5 points for a terrible Bobcats team in 2005-06.
GUGLIOTTA: Retired at the end of the season.
MCCARTY: Averaged 2.4 points over 36 games in 2005-06, his final season.
STEWART: Played only 12 more games in his NBA career.
WELSCH: Averaged 4.3 points over 58 games in 2005-06, his final season.


  • Let free agents Gary Payton and Antoine Walker walk in July 2005.
  • Amnestied Vin Baker in August 2005.
  • Traded Marcus Banks, Mark Blount, Ricky Davis and Justin Reed in January 2006.
  • Traded Dan Dickau and Raef LaFrentz in June 2006.
  • Waived Orien Greene in June 2006.

PAYTON: Played two more, relatively unproductive seasons in Miami (6.6 points, 3.1 assists), but won a title.
BAKER: Played all of 52 games for three teams over his final two-plus seasons.
BANKS: Never averaged more than 6.6 points or 1.7 assists after the 2005-06 season.
BLOUNT: Had one productive season for the Timberwolves (12.3 points, 6.2 rebounds) for a Timberwolves team that missed the playoffs with Kevin Garnett on its roster, and then decline for his final two seasons.
DAVIS: Likewise, averaged 17.0 points, 4.8 assists for the same T-Wolves in 2006-07, but similarly declined.
REED: Averaged 2.5 points over 41 games in 2006-07, his final season.
DICKAU: Averaged 4.4 points over 117 games from 2006-08, his final two seasons.
LAFRENTZ: Averaged 2.5 points over 66 games from 2006-08, his final two seasons.
GREENE: Averaged 1.4 points over 51 games for three NBA teams from 2006-11.


JONES: Appeared in 58 games for three teams over next four seasons.
SZCZERBIAK: Steadily declined before retiring from basketball in 2009.
WEST: Averaged 9.7 points and 3.5 assists from 2007-10, but well worth a Ray Allen haul.


OLOWOKANDI: Never played again.
PINKNEY: Never played again.
RAY: Never played again.
GREEN: In and out of the league since 2008, but didn’t average double-digits again until 2011-12.
GOMES: A consistent contributor in three seasons for the Timberwolves, but …
JEFFERSON: Even an up-and-coming double-double machine was worth Garnett and the 2008 NBA title.
RATLIFF: Played 131 games for six teams over his final four seasons.
TELFAIR: Likewise, played for five teams over his next six seasons.


BROWN: Never played again.
CASSELL: Never played again.
POLLARD: Never played again.
POSEY: Failed to live up to the four-year, $25 million contract he signed in 2008.
O’BRYANT: Averaged 1.7 points over 11 games in 2009-10, his final season.


MARBURY: Hasn’t played in the NBA since.
MOORE: Still Mikki Moore.
POWE: Played 50 games for the Cavaliers and Grizzlies over his final two injury-plauged seasons.
PRUITT: Hasn’t played in the NBA since.
HUDSON: Played 36 games for three teams in his final two-plus seasons.
GIDDENS: Out of the league at the end of the season.
HOUSE: Averaged 6.5 points over 74 games for two teams through 2011, his final season.
WALKER: Out of the league by age 25.
LANDRY: Hasn’t played in the NBA since.


ALLEN: Probably the biggest mistake of the Ainge era, TA became a consistent contributor for a perennial playoff team at relatively short dollars ($3-4 million), earning three NBA All-Defensive nods.
FINLEY: Never played again.
SCALABRINE: Averaged 1.1 points over 46 games for the Bulls from 2010-12, his final two seasons.
WILLIAMS: Played 117 games for three different teams from 2010-12, his final two seasons.
WALLACE: Played 21 games for the Knicks last season after a two-year hiatus, and then retired.
LAFAYETTE: Hasn’t played in the NBA since.
ERDEN: Returned to Turkey in 2012.
HARANGODY: Averaged 2.9 points over 21 games in 2011-12, his final season.
PERKINS: Has steadily declined to averages of 3.2 points and 4.2 rebounds this season.
ROBINSON: Averaging 11.7 points, 4.0 assists since, but still Nate Robinson.
JOHNSON: Played 57 games for three teams from 2011-13, his final two seasons.


ARROYO: Hasn’t played in the NBA since.
KRSTIC: Hasn’t played in the NBA since.
MURPHY: Averaged 3.5 points for two teams from 2011-13, his final two seasons.
S. O’NEAL: Hasn’t played in the NBA since.
WEST: Released from the Mavericks in 2012.
DAVIS: Averaging 11.7 points, 6.3 rebounds since, but landed Brandon Bass in return.
WAFER: Averaged 5.9 points over 33 games in 2011-12, his final season.
J. O’NEAL: Averaging 7.8 points, 5.1 rebounds over 72 games for the Suns and Warriors since.


ALLEN: Not much Ainge could have done about this one, since he offered twice the Heat’s average annual value, and while Allen essentially won Miami last year’s title with his Game 6 3-pointer, he’s now averaging career lows.
DANIELS: Out of the league within a season.
DOOLING: Played all of seven games since.
HOLLINS: Averaging 3.1 points over 91 games for the Clippers since.
PAVLOVIC: Out of the league within a season.
PIETRUS: Out of the league within a season.
STIEMSMA: Averaging 3.8 points over 89 games for two teams since.
JOHNSON: Hasn’t played in the NBA since.
MOORE: Averaging 7.2 points, 2.4 assists since, but worth Courtney Lee at the time.
S. WILLIAMS: Hasn’t played in the NBA since.
MILICIC: Hasn’t played in the NBA since.
JOSEPH: Scored two points in four games for the Nets last season.
VARNADO: Scored two points in eight games for the Heat last season.
BARBOSA: Made his return from ACL surgery at age 31 on Wednesday.
COLLINS: Scored four points in six games for the Wizards last season.
T. WILLIAMS: Hasn’t played in the NBA since.


WILCOX: Hasn’t played in the NBA since.
GARNETT: Averaging career-low 6.3 points (36.8 FG%) this season.
PIERCE: Averaging career-low 12.8 points (39.8 FG%) this season.
TERRY: Averaging career-low 4.6 points (38.3 FG%) this season.
WHITE: Hasn’t played in the NBA since.
RANDOLPH: Hasn’t played in the NBA since.
MELO: Hasn’t played in the NBA since.

With the exception of letting Tony Allen leave via free agency after reaching the 2010 NBA Finals, Ainge has been nearly flawless in this regard since taking over in 2003. Heck, even Belichick let Wes Welker walk. Sure, the C’s president waived goodbye to an aging Ray Allen, an about-to-be-overpaid Tony Battie and both Chucky Atkins and Mike James — who respectively helped land first-round picks that eventually turned into Rajon Rondo and (ironically) Tony Allen — but he’s seen exactly 100 players (including Antoine Walker, Mikki Moore and Delonte West twice) leave Boston after wearing a Celtics uniform and made only one glaring mistake.

So, as Courtney Lee departs, Brandon Bass sits upon the chopping block and decisions on a logjam of Avery BradleyJordan Crawford and Jerryd Bayless loom this summer, keep Ainge’s track record in mind.

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