Boston Celtics: The genius behind Danny Ainge’s most recent trade

Sep 25, 2015; Waltham, MA, USA; Boston Celtics GM Danny Ainge (left) and co-owner Wyc Grousbeck, during media day at the Boston Celtic Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 25, 2015; Waltham, MA, USA; Boston Celtics GM Danny Ainge (left) and co-owner Wyc Grousbeck, during media day at the Boston Celtic Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports /

Taking a closer look at the genius behind the most recent trade by the Boston Celtics and Danny Ainge

Somebody get Danny Ainge a glass of water. Because he is parched after running laps around the rest of the NBA.

No other General Manger is operating in the same ballpark as Ainge. For his first trick he swapped decrepit veterans for, essentially, four first round picks from the Brooklyn Nets in the 2013. Then he accurately recognized the talent in Isaiah Thomas. He hooked Brad Stevens before commandeering Jae Crowder.

Now, Ainge orchestrates a brilliant move, acquiring two high draft picks for the price of one.

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Have you seen the “Beat The Freeze” competition put on by the Atlanta Braves? Danny Ainge is the freeze. Every other GM is the fan.

Over the weekend, Ainge dealt the No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft to the Philadelphia 76ers for the No. 3 pick. To sweeten the deal, Philly added either the Laker’s first pick next year-assuming its picks 2-5 – or the Kings first pick in 2019.

Here’s why Ainge shows such confidence and foresight; numerous reports tagged the Celtics with targeting Josh Jackson. He’s the guard/forward hybrid out of Kansas who will likely be an elite two-way player.

But Washington point guard, Markelle Fultz, was the consensus No. 1 pick. Instead of being swallowed up in Fultz hype, Ainge used it, dealing his pick for Jackson’s projected spot plus another selection. He trusts his intuition more than the national chatter. That’s confidence.

Ainge got his No. 1 pick (assuming Lonzo Ball is selected second) while likely pocketing the Lakers first round pick next year. Remember, if LA is one of the league’s worst five teams and fails to spur some lottery magic, their pick is Boston’s

Quick, name five teams with less talent next year than LA. Brooklyn, Sacremento….and that’s it. Phoenix has one of the game’s budding stars in Devin Booker. The Timberwolves, Knicks and 76ers, all fellow bottom dwellers, will likely improve. Maybe the Lakers will be better than the Magic?

And even if the Lakers finish as one of the best 25 teams in the league next year, Ainge still takes the Kings top pick in 2019. Sacramento hasn’t landed out of the top 10 since 2008. Bottom line, a free, top ten pick is coming Boston’s way.

Whether or not Ainge makes his second premiere pick in 2018 or 2019 is essentially irrelevant. The Celtics GM has the foresight to realize that Boston won’t be winning a title until LeBron James retires or Golden State breaks up its core. So why rush it? Ainge is stocking up for the 2020s. Whether or not his elite player is selected in 2017, 2018 or 2019 is superfluous. Might as well have a couple shots at an all-star in this decade instead of one.

And just as a side note, Ainge’s genius doesn’t diminish if Fultz turns out to be a better player than Jackson. By the Boston Celtics board, this trade has netted the team the draft’s best player and a future top pick. If Jackson is a bust, blame the draft board. Blame the scouting. Blame Ainge’s inability to evaluate talent. But you can’t blame the trade. The trade is built on impressive foresight and executed in way that brings in two top players. Last I checked, two is more than one.

What surprises me is how quick pundits have been to put down Ainge. Hot-taker, short thinker Nick Wright tweeted:

But if the trade goes through as initially reported, Ainge isn’t sacrificing any established player to acquire Jackson. In fact, the Celtics roster would have likely looked exactly the same next year with or without the trade. Nothing tangible was dealt in this exchange.

Yahoo’s Chris Mannix called Ainge a “gambling executive…placing his biggest bet, against a player few around the league would bet against.” But Fultz, despite his comparisons to the league’s best guards, is about as sure of a thing as Anthony Bennet, Andrea Bargnani or Kwame Brown. First picks, or for that matter, top five picks are never sure things. Why not take to shots at bagging a superstar instead of one?

Besides, third picks often turn out better than first. According to, third picks become stars 85 percent of the time in the NBA. The probability of a first pick reaching stardom is just 75 percent.

If this trade plays out like Ainge envisions, the Celtics will build around two premier wings in Jackson and Brown. The duo will be complimented by the defensive studs Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley. And by the time LeBron is exciting the NBA, the core should be entering its prime. And in the meantime, the electrifying Thomas and postman Al Hortford will keep the fans content

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If these best-laid plans go awry, Ainge likely has two more top-five picks coming his way to stock up on more talent. In a league filled with teams desperate for top talent or high draft picks, the Celtics have both. They are the farthest team away from the NBA’s dreaded purgatory of mediocrity. They are both elite and lottery loaded. No other team is anywhere near this spot.

That’s why Ainge is running lapse around every other GM.