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Report: Celtics ‘quietly aggressive’ on trade front looking to make ‘splashy move’ 01.29.16 at 11:30 am ET
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Danny Ainge

Danny Ainge

Much has been made of the fact that the Celtics are loaded with assets as the Feb. 18 trade deadline approaches. The team has appealing complementary players and multiple draft picks to dangle.

Controversial Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins long has been considered a target for C’s president Danny Ainge, along with Cavaliers forward Kevin Love. However, both teams have made it clear those players are not available.

That doesn’t mean the Celtics are folding. According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, “Boston has been quietly aggressive, with its well-chronicled array of assets, in search of the splashy move we all know Danny Ainge would love to make.” With Cousins and Love apparently out of the picture, “there isn’t a starry trade target for Ainge to chase. At least not yet.”

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Danny Ainge issues statement about former advisor Flip Saunders 10.25.15 at 9:02 pm ET
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Danny Ainge

Danny Ainge

Celtics president Danny Ainge issued a statement following the death of Timberwolves coach and president Flip Saunders on Sunday:

“€œI am deeply saddened by the loss of Flip Saunders. He was an outstanding coach who always got the most out of his teams. He was always a well-respected opponent. Flip dedicated so much of his life to basketball and the NBA. His life has impacted so many. May God bless his wife Debbie, their children, and extended family. He will be missed greatly by our small NBA community.”

Saunders served as an advisor for the Celtics at the end of the 2011-12 season, when the C’s made a run to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, shortly before Saunders returned to Minnesota.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, Flip Saunders, NBA
Danny Ainge’s 25 most consequential trades: 4. Goodbye, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett 10.13.15 at 8:26 pm ET
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Over the next month, we’ll chronicle the 25 most consequential trades of Danny Ainge’s tenure as Celtics president of basketball operations. When we’re done, we’ll have a better understanding of Ainge’s philosophy and success rate on the trade market. Perhaps by the end of this exercise we’ll even feel better about the future of this rebuild. At the very least, we’ll have something interesting to debate while we wait for preseason to play out.

With that out of the way, here’s No. 4 on the list of Danny Ainge’s 25 most consequential trades.

July 12, 2013: Goodbye, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.

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Read More: 25 most consequential trades, Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, Kevin Garnett
Danny Ainge’s 25 most consequential trades: 5. Goodbye, Kendrick Perkins 10.05.15 at 2:27 pm ET
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Over the next month, we’ll chronicle the 25 most consequential trades of Danny Ainge’s tenure as Celtics president of basketball operations. When we’re done, we’ll have a better understanding of Ainge’s philosophy and success rate on the trade market. Perhaps by the end of this exercise we’ll even feel better about the future of this rebuild. At the very least, we’ll have something interesting to debate while we wait for preseason to play out.

With that out of the way, here’s No. 5 on the list of Danny Ainge’s 25 most consequential trades.

Feb. 24, 2011: Goodbye, Kendrick Perkins.

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Read More: 25 most consequential trades, Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, Jeff Green
Danny Ainge’s 25 most consequential trades: 6. Hello, Isaiah Thomas 09.30.15 at 4:20 pm ET
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Over the next month, we’ll chronicle the 25 most consequential trades of Danny Ainge’s tenure as Celtics president of basketball operations. When we’re done, we’ll have a better understanding of Ainge’s philosophy and success rate on the trade market. Perhaps by the end of this exercise we’ll even feel better about the future of this rebuild. At the very least, we’ll have something interesting to debate while we wait for preseason to play out.

With that out of the way, here’s No. 6 on the list of Danny Ainge’s 25 most consequential trades.

July 10, 2014: Hello, Tyler Zeller.

ARRIVING in Boston

  • Marcus Thornton: In order to shed salary for the return of LeBron James, Cleveland essentially sent Jarrett Jack to Brooklyn for Thornton, and Boston took the latter’s expiring $8.6 million contract off the Cavaliers, hands.  While on the Celtics, Thornton continued to be what he’d been in his five previous seasons — a productive scorer off the bench who wasn’t worth the four-year, $31 million deal Sacramento signed him to in 2011.
  • Tyler Zeller: The 7-foot North Carolina did what most players have done under Celtics coach Brad Stevens — develop in almost every respect. Zeller averaged 17.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists per 36 minutes last season, taking strides as a mid-range jump shooter and rim protector. A year later, Cleveland’s 2012 first-round pick still has a year left on his rookie contract and doesn’t become a restricted free agent until next summer.
  • Cleveland’€™s 2016 first-round pick (top-10 protected): Granted, this pick will fall in the late 20s come June, if not 30th overall, but even the lowest first-round pick is a valuable asset in a league that protects them dearly.

DEPARTING to Cleveland

  • $10.3 million trade exception: The Celtics also included a conditional second-round pick that never came to fruition, so this is all they gave up — the trade exception created upon dealing Paul Pierce‘s salary to Brooklyn.

Feb. 19, 2015: Hello, Isaiah Thomas.

ARRIVING in Boston

  • Isaiah Thomas: Playing in a crowded Suns backcourt behind Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic, Thomas was in the midst of a Sixth Man of the Year-worthy campaign, averaging 15.2 points on nearly 40 percent shooting off the bench. The 5-foot-9 point guard added 3.7 assists and 2.4 rebounds in 25.7 minutes a night over his 46 games in Phoenix — consistent with the 36-minute averages that made him one of the league’s most efficient players in Sacramento. He was even better in Boston, averaging 19.0 points and 5.4 assists in 26 minutes. Oh, and he’s working on one of the league’s best contracts, which declines from $6.9 million each year through 2017-18.

DEPARTING to Phoenix

  • Marcus Thornton: After leaving the Celtics, Thornton was stuck on the end of the Suns bench. He scored a total of 32 points in nine appearances for Phoenix, and then missed 14 of the final 15 games with a toe injury.
  • Cleveland’€™s 2016 first-round pick (top-10 protected): See? Told you low first-round picks are still valuable.

There may be a handful of Ainge’s trades more consequential than this one, but you won’t find any more creative.

In some serious origami, Ainge turned a piece of paper into Tyler Zeller and Isaiah Thomas. Actually, I’m not even sure trade exceptions are printed on pieces of paper. They might just be in the ether. In which case, Ainge literally pulled a 24-year-old starting center and a Sixth Man of the Year candidate out of thin air. Is that good? I think that’s good.

There isn’t much more you can say about how this shook out for the Celtics, to be honest. It’s some Gandalf-level stuff.

Read More: 25 most consequential trades, Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, Isaiah Thomas
Danny Ainge’s 25 most consequential trades: 7. Goodbye, Rajon Rondo 09.24.15 at 10:24 am ET
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Over the next month, we’ll chronicle the 25 most consequential trades of Danny Ainge’s tenure as Celtics president of basketball operations. When we’re done, we’ll have a better understanding of Ainge’s philosophy and success rate on the trade market. Perhaps by the end of this exercise we’ll even feel better about the future of this rebuild. At the very least, we’ll have something interesting to debate while we wait for training camp to open.

With that out of the way, here’s No. 7 on the list of Danny Ainge’s 25 most consequential trades.

Dec. 18, 2014: Goodbye, Rajon Rondo.

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Read More: 25 most consequential trades, Danny Ainge, Jae Crowder, NBA
Celtics boss Danny Ainge explains why he considers Stephen Curry, not Larry Bird, best shooter of all time at 1:06 am ET
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Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry

Danny Ainge spent nearly eight seasons alongside Larry Bird, the man many consider the greatest shooter in NBA history, so he doesn’t say the following lightly: Stephen Curry is the best shooter he’s ever seen.

Ainge made the observation on Twitter during the playoffs, which ended with Curry’s Warriors claiming the title, and he explained himself earlier this week in an interview with WEEI.com from his Waltham office.

“I think Larry was as good a shooter as I’ve ever seen before Steph. And Ray Allen is up there, too,” Ainge said. “If anybody were to come in and tell me, ‘Larry Bird‘s the best shooter of all time,’ I wouldn’t have much argument. Same with Ray. I probably wouldn’t argue. It’s really close.

“The reason I think Steph is the best shooter of all time is simply the variety of shots he hits. Left-handed running hook shots, reverses, floaters, 3-point shots off the dribble, behind screens. It’s the variety and the degree of difficulty of the shots he hits.”

Ainge, who was no slouch in the shooting department himself (.378 lifetime on 3’s and .846 on free throws), got an up-close-and-personal look at Bird’s ability to score while surrounded by multiple defenders, but for sheer creativity, he’s going with Curry.

“That’s why I think Larry was always my first guy of being the best shooter of all time, up until Steph,” Ainge said. “To me, it was the difficulty of shots he made. I mean, Larry could shoot with two guys draped on him, and I used to play Larry one-on-one often before practice. I would be right on him and turn around, and the ball would be going in the basket. That’s what was always amazing to me, how he was able to create that shot and get that shot off with very little space. I see the same qualities in Steph.”

Read More: Danny Ainge, Larry Bird, Steph Curry, Stephen Curry
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