Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge has never shied away from a bold move. Seeing the bleak future of his aging veteran stable of big names, Ainge made his next move on Thursday night as the NBA Draft unfolded.
The news that stole the night was of the “blockbuster” trade that ships Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and Kevin Garnett to division rivals Brooklyn, with Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, Keith Bogans, Kris Joseph and MarShon Brooks coming Boston’s way along with first round picks in next year’s loaded draft, 2016 and 2018.
While it’s unfortunate that Pierce could have to finish his career somewhere else should he decide not to retire, this move is an incredible statement of Ainge’s intentions to rebuild.
The Celtics get a good small forward in Gerald Wallace who can defend well and will likely cut Kris Joseph, another small forward they won’t need with Jeff Green already at their disposal. Kris Humphries means little more to Ainge than a $12 million expiring contract to clear cap space next summer. He’ll compete with Brandon Bass and Jared Sullinger for minutes, but his future in Boston and maybe even the NBA is questionable after that.
Brooks represents another expiring deal and along with Keith Bogans gives Boston a huge stable of shooting guards/small forwards. The Celtics have options on Avery Bradley and Jordan Crawford, so expect this season to essentially be a tryout for every guard not named Rajon Rondo.
The Celtics don’t have a coach at the moment, but what the appointment does with their rookie big men of Kelly Olynyk and Colton Iverson will be interesting. The team traded up with Dallas to get Olynyk and got the 7-foot 260 pound Iverson in the second round. While neither makes them that much better right now, each could pan out to be key rotational players of the future for Boston.
Perhaps the most important aspect of the draft day deals Boston made is that it sets them up to likely be horrible next season. This team will have a tough time forging any kind of identity under its new coach who has little wiggle room to add anything through free agency given the fact that Boston really only cleared $5 million off their salary cap for 2013/14 in all the moves. But with Humphries and Brooks’s deals expiring and the draft picks they picked up, it won’t take Ainge long to pack the Celtics with a load of young talent if they are as bad as you might expect next season.
Next summer’s draft is a much better place to have a top five pick than this year’s draft was, so if the Celtics should miss the playoffs and manage to find their way higher up into the lottery, they will find themselves with a fresh young core to try and win a championship with thanks to also being able to take Brooklyn’s late first rounder in 2014.
With the departure of Doc Rivers and the age of Garnett and Pierce, Ainge had no choice but to shake things up in Beantown. While these moves don’t make the Celtics better right now, they clearly show Ainge’s intention to hit the reset button.