Danny Ainge transformed a struggling Boston Celtics’ team in 2007 with one aging superstar in Paul Pierce, a head coach in Doc Rivers that was falling short of his potential he would eventually realize, and a few young assets into a Finals winner in 2008, a Finals runner-up in 2010 and came incredibly close to another Finals trip in 2012.
The bill for that run came due when the Celtics were eliminated in the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs by the New York Knicks. But Ainge quickly crafted a golden parachute of epic proportions that June in deals with the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers. The Nets’ deal is the true masterpiece of these maneuvers and it could become a true all-time great depending on who is eventually drafted with those picks, which will have striking similarity to how the Lakers eventually landed Magic Johnson with the compensation from the Jazz for Gail Goodrich.
Ainge never had to “double down” or “mortgage the future” to sustain the Celtics’ run and he was able to sell off most of those critical parts for quality assets that will accelerate the rebuild and also give the franchise several huge swings at acquiring their next superstar caliber players. The striking thing about what Ainge has done here in dismantaling the team is that the Celtics have received more value in return than they sent out in putting it together.
What They Cost
Paul Pierce: 10th overall pick in 1998
Kendrick Perkins: 27th overall pick in 2003
Rajon Rondo: 21st overall pick in 2006 from Suns, acquired via trade of 2007 Cavs’ pick
Ray Allen: Jeff Green (5th pick in 2007), Delonte West, Wally Szcerbiak
Kevin Garnett: Al Jefferson, Gerald Green, Sebastian Telfair, Ryan Gomes, Theo Ratliff’s expiring contract, Wolves’ own pick back in 2009 (Jonny Flynn at No. 6), Wayne Ellington (29th pick in 2009)
What They Were Sold For
Kendrick Perkins: Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic, Fab Melo (traded to get under luxury tax)
Ray Allen: Signed outright with the Heat in free agency in 2012
Doc Rivers: Clippers’ 2015 first round pick
Paul Pierce & Kevin Garnett: James Young (17th overall pick in 2014), Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries’ expiring contract, Kris Joseph, MarShon Brooks, unprotected 2016 and 2018 first round picks, right to swap picks in 2017. A $10.3 million trade exception became Cleveland’s 2016 first round pick, Marcus Thornton and Tyler Zeller. Keith Bogans became Dwight Powell and Cleveland’s second round picks in 2016 and 2017, along with a $5.3 million TPE.
Rajon Rondo: 2016 first round pick, 2016 second round pick, Brandan Wright, Jae Crowder, Jameer Nelson, $12.9 million trade exception
The Important Stuff
Jeff Green (who has played 4+ seasons and could be flipped for another asset)
Brandan Wright (who could be flipped to a contending team before the deadline, or re-signed in the offseason)
2015 1st Round Pick (Clippers)
$12.9 million trade exception, which expires on Dec. 18, 2015
Unprotected 2016 1st Rounder (Nets)
2016 1st Round Pick (Mavs, if 8-30)
2016 1st Round Pick (Cavs)
2016 2nd Round Pick (Mavs)
2016 2nd Round Pick (Cavs)
Rights to swap 1st Rounders with Nets if a higher selection in 2017
2017 2nd Round Pick (Cavs)
Unprotected 2018 1st Rounder (Nets)