An Interactive Sports Experience

Danny Ainge Maximizes Value As Big Three Era Ends

Plenty has been written bemoaning the end of the ‘big three’ era. When the Boston Celtics assembled a roster that added Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo in 2007, they had one goal in mind; the championship. Danny Ainge made some major deals over the past week trading away head coach Doc Rivers to the LA Clippers and then Garnett, Pierce and Jason Terry to the Brooklyn Nets. You can be sure that the very same thing was on his mind.

Pierce spent the first 15 years of his NBA career in green and deserved the chance to retire as a member of the Celtics. Garnett completely changed the culture of Boston basketball when he arrived in 2007 and deserved to leave on his own terms.

Still, sentimentality doesn’t bring championships. Ainge knows that and he isn’t getting enough credit for maximizing value to an extreme level. The final package that Ainge managed to swing looks like this:

Boston loses: Doc Rivers, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry

Boston gains: Clippers 1st round pick 2015, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, Kris Joseph, Keith Bogans, Reggie Evans, Nets 1st round picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018.

Of course, the Garnett/Pierce deal has only been agreed in principle and it’s possible that the details could change before it can be officially completed on July 10th. Still, if this is the deal that Ainge has agreed, then he has done well.

It was clear that Boston didn’t have a championship contender. Garnett and Pierce are both entering their final couple of seasons and will enter every season from here on out with fitness concerns. It was also clear that Rivers didn’t really have the stomach for being the head coach of a re-building project. His heart would not have been in it. Boston’s GM has acquired four first round picks in exchange for that package.

This is now Rondo’s team. He is a high-end talented point guard and should be ready to take the next step becoming ‘the man’. He has a decent supporting cast around him already. Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger and latest draft pick Kelly Olynyk all figures to be a part of that future.

Boston now has the potential to be very active in future free agent periods in terms of chasing the best available players. They may keep their draft picks and load up on young players to re-build by that method. It is more likely that Ainge will pursue a shorter term route using his now large stock of assets to surround Rondo with a championship calibre team in the next two or three years.

The big three brought a 17th NBA championship to Boston, but their era may well be reflected upon as something of a failure. The Celtics couldn’t get over the hump in the 2010 NBA finals despite leading the LA Lakers 3-2. In 2012, they came pretty close to a third NBA finals appearance, but couldn’t convert a 3-2 Eastern conference finals lead against the Miami Heat.

The next core that Ainge builds will surely be designed to bring multiple titles to the NBA’s most successful franchise. He has a lot of work to do, but he has started off on the right foot.

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