Danny Ainge is widely known as the man who has pulled off two of the most lopsided traded in NBA history. Acquiring Kevin Garnett from the Minnesota Timberwolves for Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Theo Ratliff, Gerald Green, and Sebastian Telfair. Garnett teamed up with Ray Allen and Paul Pierce to lead the Celtics to an NBA Championship in 2008 and a return trip to the Finals in 2010. Then on draft night Ainge sent Pierce and Garnett and Jason Terry to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, Keith Bogans, Marshawn Brooks and the Nets first round picks in 2014, 2016, a swap right in 2017, and 2018 unprotected.
Despite how brilliant those two trades were Ainge has put his entire legacy on the line this offseason Ainge has put it all on the line this offseason with two earth shattering trades. The Celtics landed the number one pick in the draft from the Nets in a draft where there was a consensus Number One overall pick, in Washington Point Guard Markelle Fultz. The Celtics were clearly not on the same page as they traded that pick to the Philadelphia 76ers for the third pick in the draft and the Los Angeles Lakers 1st round pick next year if it lands between 2-5. If it does not it becomes the Sacramento Kings 1st round pick in 2019 Top 1 Protected. With the third pick, the Celtics took Duke Forward Jayson Tatum who shined in the Summer League while Fultz faltered before an injury.
Now if that wasn’t enough last night Ainge pulled the trigger on a whopper sending beloved figure Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Nets pick in 2018 to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Kyrie Irving. Thomas had become the 2nd most loved athlete in Boston behind Tom Brady in his 2.5 years in the city. And right before the Celtics began their playoff run in April, Thomas tragically lost his sister Chyna in a car accident and the entire city of Boston mourned with him and pick him up. Thomas then went onto have a great postseason including scoring over 50 points in the 2nd round vs the Washington Wizards in Game 2 on what would have been his sisters birthday. Thomas many times has said he feels he is a Max player, and after the Celtics added Gordon Hayward in the offseason it felt he would join forces with Thomas and Al Horford for the Celtics to make a run at the NBA Finals. Now instead Hayward and Horford will join forces with Irving in Boston, and Thomas will join Lebron James and Kevin Love in Cleveland.
So in these two moves Ainge has either locked up his career as a Hall of Fame executive or destroyed his legacy if Isaiah Thomas or Markelle Fultz goes onto win MVP’s and Championships, one thing is for sure this man is not scared of the big deal.
Cameron Vieira is a contributing writer for gmbsports.com. Follow him on Twitter @CamInTaunton,“Like” him on Facebook and add him to your Google network