Wednesday, August 22, 2007

What an Amazing Four Months This Has Been

>>>> Spring to Summer:

1) March and April: With a superb draft in sight, the Celtics along with numerous other teams did everything they could to maximize their chances of ping pong nirvana.
They sidelined everyone who either were injured, felt bad, or could play really well-- Mission sort of accomplished as the team "won" the injured-games-lost title.
They used the youngest, least experienced lineups in every fourth quarter.
And they lost. Oh how they lost. Only the Grizzlies were more skilled at the fine art of ping pong acquisition.

2) May 18th, the Lottery: All hope and most life essence was swiftly expelled from every greenblood when the team ended up with a worst possible 5th pick. Suddenly the Celtics were not getting Oden or Durant, but instead Yi or Jeff Green. Panic turned to an extended period of depression.
Slowly the pain faded a bit, as the other young prospects began to seem mildly tantalizing.

3) Late June: Draft night came and the Ray Allen deal was leaked, then verified. There was full blown confusion. The deal made little sense- seemingly pulling the team away from the youth movement without getting enough back to contend.

4) Weeks later: The Kevin Garnett rumors went from background noise to ground shaking reality. Everything changed. Everything was suddenly clear.

What I'm writing here is really about Danny Ainge and the Celtics front office, and what an amazing, practically unprecedented thing they're pulling off:
Ainge has been nearly universally maligned by the national press since his arrival.
His standing with the local press has been only slightly better.
It seemed the majority of fans were pretty negative on #44 too.

>>>> A Few Historical Points on All This:

1) Ainge didn't like the Celtic team he took over. They had peaked, had fading- not particularly talented players, and had few assets to trade.

2) From the first moment he said he was going to acquire trading chips and eventually use them.

3) He didn't use them right away but instead kept accruing more and more youth. When questioned about this, his answer was always the same: Despite trying constantly, he did not expect to be unable to make any major trades for veteran stars. He did not expect to keep all the young guys for so long. He was always working on changing that. He was not going to trade away his top young guys just for the sake of doing it. He was waiting for the right deal.

Most people didn't believe him for some reason.

4) The trade with Minnesota did include two draft picks, but one of them was Minnesota's own first rounder back. That one had protections on it that made it very likely it was going to turn into a second rounder in a few years. The other first rounder is going to be in the mid twenties or worse.

5) As has been pointed out, virtually EVERY SINGLE DEAL Ainge has ever done: the Antoine trade, the LaFrentz/Telfair (Roy) trade, both Szczerbiak trades, the Cleveland deal, the Detroit deal- resulted in assets that were later turned into Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett.

6) He apparently targeted Ratliff's expiring contract as it was the biggest in the league heading into a year when many major names were coming on the market. That may have been a coincidence, but probably not.

7) Over the years he drafted very well with mid to late picks and second rounders, selecting: Jefferson, Green, Gomes, and West among others. Those young players plus a few large movable contracts were enough to make what is a franchise transformation of historical proportions.

So... whether this all will end up in a championship or not remains to be seen, but:

Every other contender in the league depends on players the age of Garnett, Pierce and Allen.

The Celtics have given up four fine young players, a few with star potential. They added two bonafide stars and kept Rondo (which was a dealbreaker in both the Minnesota and Seattle trades). Both McHale and Presti pushed hard for Rondo.

Their bench is going to look a lot better on the floor than it does on paper as most of the reserves will spend half their time left alone while the opposition scrambles to double team Pierce, Allen, and Garnett at once. (For example, you think Eddie House can knock down an open 3? Because that's what he's going to be seeing.)

Yes it's risky. But keeping all the young guys would be risky too, and the payoff from doing that would come years down the road, if ever.

>>>> Some Words on The Trade To Set Up The Next Trade:

1) Danny Ainge made the Ray Allen trade to set up the Kevin Garnett deal. That's amazing enough...

2) ...but as RealGM poster CalderCup wrote: "They only signed Pollard in order to woo Miller out of retirement, they're great friends from back in the day. It's all part of Danny's master plan."

I thought about that for a while, and it's probably true. Pollard and Miller are close from their time at Indiana. Danny Ainge used the set up technique twice this offseason. Plus, if you factor in the recent and future free agents that will sign with Boston to join the fun, that's a lot of added value coming out of the lottery malaise and the initial Ray Allen deal.

Whether everyone stays healthy and it all blends into a championship team remains to be seen, but one thing has been established: This is an incredibly creative sequence of moves by the Celtics front office.

ESPN was wrong. The Boston Globe was wrong. This is in fact a very clever front office.

...Now they just need a little luck and health.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the read, once again very thought provoking.

Perhaps as well as being very good, our front office also got a little lucky, but then, we were overdue on the luck stakes.

I agree with you that the bench will be better than people expect and P2 will be unstoppable with two other All Stars on the floor.

I am still hurting from the trade, I really loved those guys we lost and loved watching them grow up, despite the losses.

However, it is impossible not to be excited about the upcoming season and watching a genuine contender.

Congratulations Danny and the front office team and to the owners for dipping into their pockets.

I am officially strapped in for the ride.


Aussie Celtic

Gant said...

I agree with everything you said Aussie Celtic.

I'm going to miss Gomes, West, Green and especially Al Jefferson quite a bit.

On your other point- Pierce, Ray Allen and Garnett got double covered constantly before. Now they hardly ever will. All of their jobs just got immensely easier.

I expect a big year from Pierce on the defensive end- his best ever, because he doesn't have to save all his energy for offense anymore.

College Wolf said...

I'm not hating on you, but this needs to be said:

This was NOT some masterful plan 3 years in the making by Ainge. Getting Garnett was a pure stroke of LUCK. Even after the Ray Allen trade, he still got incredibly lucky that our TWolves Front Office is soooo terribly inept.

Ainge got lucky, it was not a masterful stroke of skill, planning, and/or cunning.