The Boston Celtics aggressively pursued a trade for Justise Winslow during the 2015 NBA Draft.
The Celtics offered as many as four first round picks to move up to the Charlotte Hornets' selection at nine to draft Winslow. The Celtics were offering the 15th and 16th picks in that year's draft along with one first rounder from the Brooklyn Nets and another future first from either the Minnesota Timberwolves or Memphis Grizzlies.
With Winslow having a strong career but short of an All-Star talent and the Celtics eventually selecting Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum with picks from the Nets, it seems like Danny Ainge avoided a potential mistake in having his offer rejected.
“I don’t know,” said Ainge when asked if it feels like he barely avoided a car crash. “I understand what you’re saying, but I don’t feel like that at all. I don’t feel the same. I don’t feel like we avoided an accident, because there’s a whole bunch of ways to get players — through trades, through developing, through free agency — and you can’t just look back at history and say, ‘Oh, if we’d have made this trade, therefore this would have happened.’
“Like, that’s not how the world works. If we’d have made this trade, there’s a whole bunch of other trades that maybe could have happened as a result of making that trade that we would have pulled the trigger on or another team would have pulled the trigger on. So I don’t think you can view the world in hindsight like that, because none of us know the other pieces. There’s so many pieces that fall as the result of one trade that leads to another trade that leads to another trade that leads to your team. So I don’t know the cycle and the chain of events that would have happened had the trade happened on that draft night.”
Ainge insists he doesn't often throw his thoughts into reverse.
“Not really,” Ainge said. “I mean, I look back and evaluate what we did in the draft and how we evaluated all the players in that draft. I did that in 2016. I always evaluate the players from what we know and what could have happened, what could not have happened. But I don’t think about it anymore.”
Ainge is glad the Celtics remained patient.
“I just know that I’m glad that we were all able to be patient, and we’ve been very fortunate that our last group of picks have all turned out well,” Ainge said. “Listen, we have a lot of good players. We’ve been very fortunate in free agency and with trades and in the draft. We’ve had really good fortune over the last four years. That doesn’t always happen. It hasn’t always happened with us. We’ve made bad trades, we’ve made bad drafts and we’ve made bad free agent signings. We obviously had some bad luck last year with health, but with the good luck of the quality of players that we’ve been able to acquire for this team, I do feel very fortunate.
“But I also know how fleeting it can be, and we got a glimpse of that last year. So we’ll just appreciate this team while we have them and look forward to the future with this group of guys.”