|Irish Coffee: Ranking Danny Ainge’s Celtics assets||12.20.13 at 1:59 pm ET|
The recent trade rumors surrounding the Celtics aren’t going away any time soon, so for the purposes of any trade discussion between now and the Feb. 20 deadline — real or imaginary — let’s rank all the assets available to president of basketball operations Danny Ainge in order of value (highest to lowest). Here goes.
RAJON RONDO: Albeit completely unfounded, the mere fact people debated whether a Kings package of Ben McLemore (2013 No. 7 overall pick), Isaiah Thomas (18.9 ppg, 5.5 apg, 59.5 TS%, 22.8 PER, 730 minutes), Jason Thompson (10.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg over six NBA seasons), Marcus Thornton (18.7 ppg in 2011-12) and two first-round picks was enough for Rondo should tell you all you need to know about the Celtics point guard’s value.
2014 CELTICS FIRST-ROUND PICK: Whether this was the stumbling block in an Omer Asik deal or not, Ainge should rightfully think thrice before dealing either first-rounder in this coming June’s loaded draft. While the Celtics still own a one-game lead atop the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference’s No. 4 seed, they’re only 1.5 games out of the lottery, and most GMs would be willing to gamble against the C’s making the playoffs.
JARED SULLINGER: If the 2012 NBA draft took place tomorrow, how many players would be selected over Sullinger? Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal and Andre Drummond are likely the only four you’d definitely take over the Celtics sophomore since he’s returned from back surgery. Under control at least through 2015-16 for a grand total of $5.1 million, Sully has arguably been the C’s most important player this season.
|Donny Marshall on M&M: Celtics talking to Kings about trading Rajon Rondo for Isaiah Thomas, others||12.18.13 at 11:15 am ET|
Marshall turned heads earlier this week when he said Sacramento is a possible landing spot for Rondo, who has yet to play this season as he works his way back from a torn ACL suffered in January. According to Marshall, there is a multi-player deal in the works between the Celtics and Kings.
“This is actually something that the teams are talking about,” Marshall insisted. “The name that people would understand and would know is a guy like Isaiah Thomas. He’s a great little guard. He’s having career highs right now, he’s averaging about 18, 19 points a game. He’s a scorer. He’s a guy who can run the point for you, but he can also score. He’s one piece.
“I think the other piece, you throw in some other athletes — remember, they just made a trade, Sacramento, to get Rudy Gay, Aaron Gray. And they’ve had some other guys there that they’re trying to move. The key for them is two future first-round picks. If you’re to stay on that same theme that the Celtics have been on, to get young and to be good for a long time, how do you do that? You get them through the draft. ‘¦ I think here’s another opportunity to not only get a couple of good players now, young players, but you get two future first-round picks. To me, it makes total sense.”
Added Marshall: “Guys are always going to be talked about. In Rondo’s situation ‘¦ it makes sense. Do you want to be mediocre? Do you want to finish sixth this year? Not that anyone is going to try to tank — this team is playing terrific. ‘¦ I’m happy that they’re playing the way they’re playing. But for the fans and for that market, to be mediocre is not fun. ‘¦ That, I don’t think the Celtics deserve. The fans don’t deserve that, the players don’t deserve that. The way you get past that sooner than later is trying to move a guy like Rajon Rondo. And that’s not to be disrespectful to a player like Rondo.”
The Celtics also reportedly are pushing to acquire disgruntled Rockets center Omer Asik.
“You talk about Omer Asik, they want to now try to find a package to get him out of Houston. Brandon Bass is a name that they’re throwing in there. I don’t think Jeff Green will be a guy that you would want to [trade]; I think he’s untouchable, in my opinion. I think that’s one guy you can try to continue to build around, but there are some other pieces that will go.
“A complete dismantling? No. But I think Danny [Ainge] will do what he’s always done. He will think these things through. He will talk to all of his guys around him. The one thing that’s great about Danny is he always has people around him that are smarter than him. I love that theory. Because now you go to them and you trust them, and those people are doing their due diligence to make sure the team is going in the right direction.
“I don’t think they’ll dismantle, but I do think Danny will take some pieces that he can build around and and not completely be in the basement, but put himself in a position to be able to get — I think they can get some of those lottery picks. I really think they can get some of those game-changers in the next two drafts.”
|Irish Coffee: A look at Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Julius Randle and the 18 prospects Danny Ainge scouted in Chicago||11.13.13 at 12:07 pm ET|
When word got out that Danny Ainge attended Tuesday night’s Champions Classic in Chicago — an event that featured the likely top three players in the 2014 NBA draft and four of college basketball’s best five teams — the Celtics president’s presence brought out the Riggin’ for Wiggins folks in full force.
While Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Julius Randle didn’t disappoint, combining for 76 points (65 TS%) and 30 rebounds, the reality is those two games (Kansas 94, Duke 83; Michigan State 78, Kentucky 74) featured as many as 18 picks in June’s draft. Ainge would be a fool not to show up. Here are the stat lines he saw from those 18 players in order of performance — complete with each prospect’s mixtape and a link to his DraftExpress profile.
18. Tarik Black SR PF Kansas (6 MIN): 0 PTS, 1 REB, 3 PF
|Danny Ainge wanted Jimmy Chitwood role in Hoosiers||10.18.13 at 1:08 pm ET|
It’s almost impossible for the 1986 Celtics season to have been any better, but just imagine if they had Jimmy Chitwood on the roster as “Hoosiers” hit theaters that year. If Danny Ainge had his way, it would’ve happened.
“I loved the Boston Celtics,” Maris Valainis, the actor who played the iconic character, told the Beats & Eats podcast. “I remember we actually got to go to a preseason game when they were playing the Pacers. We were just getting started filming, the game was over and Danny Ainge was running off the court. We were kind of courtside, and he looks at me and pointed at me, and he goes, ‘I’m going to take your spot in the movie.’”
Seriously, just think of the added entertainment value of having Jimmy Chitwood calling the shots in the C’s front office. In 2010-11, they would have had Chitwood, Jesus Shuttlesworth and Neon Boudeaux all under one roof. All they would have needed was Scott Howard and Billy Hoyle for the greatest pickup game in basketball history.
Or, if Kobe Bryant hadn’t turned down the “He Got Game” role as he claimed to Sports Illustrated in the latest from the great Lee Jenkins, those 2008 and 2010 NBA Finals would have pitted Chitwood’s Celtics against Shuttlesworth’s Lakers. And my money’s always on Chitwood.
|Be realistic: No comparison between Celtics, Red Sox||10.16.13 at 6:39 pm ET|
‘Baseball is such a different sport,’ said Danny Ainge, one of a dozen people ever to walk the planet as both a Major League Baseball and NBA player. ‘You have so many more players, and in baseball not one player dominates a game as much. In basketball, I don’t think there’s any correlation we could draw from that situation.’
For more on the differences between this year’s C’s and Sox, read this column.
|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.
|Irish Coffee: Danny Ainge’s tankless Celtics job||10.03.13 at 2:44 pm ET|
The great Ian Thomsen elicited not one, but two of the best quotes on the tanking issue facing the Celtics this season in his latest for Sports Illustrated — both from C’s president of basketball operations Danny Ainge.
Here’s the first important phrase from Ainge, addressing what many believe is the strongest NBA draft class since the 2003 edition that produced eight All-Stars (including a guy by the name of LeBron James) — headed by potential franchise players Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Marcus Smart and Julius Randle.
“If Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was out there to change your franchise forever, or Tim Duncan was going to change your franchise for 15 years? That might be a different story. I don’t see that player out there.”
Interesting. If this isn’t some strange attempt at a Red Auerbach-esque bluff, then tanking doesn’t concern these C’s — not only because of the historically poor Ping Pong luck of the Irish, but because Wiggins isn’t LeBron.
Besides, even if Ainge wanted to tank, it’s not like he’s gathering his coach and players around the locker room and delivering an anti-motivational speech. (Which, by the way, would be great: “Great draft picks are born from great opportunity, and that’s what you have here tonight, boys. That’s what you’ve earned here tonight. One season. If we played 82 games, they might win 41. But not this season. Not this year. This year, we tank them. This year, we lose all of them. And we shut it down because we can! This year, WE are the worst basketball team in the world.” And a slow clap, of course.) Anyhow, as for real Ainge quotes, here’s that second important one.