Ainge and the Celtics have massively misplayed their hand

Sam Danes

Over the last few seasons, we’ve heard nothing but how the Boston Celtics were primed for a quick return into contention. They’ve accumulated assets upon assets to…apparently do nothing with. What is Danny Ainge waiting for? Have the Celtics wasted their best shot at adding a real impact player? 

Ever since the Boston Celtics pulled off the heist of the century in 2014 when they acquired the Brooklyn Nets’ 2017 and 2018 first round picks, they’ve been one of the most polarizing teams in the NBA. Danny Ainge has done an impressive job accumulating a war chest of valuable picks and young players. However, the last few weeks have seen him be hesitant to give any of them up for star players like Jimmy Butler or Paul George. To make matters worse, it seems as though the Pacers and Bulls have accepted significantly worse offers than most expected. This has left us all asking – why didn’t Ainge pull the trigger on any of these deals?

It’s entirely possible (and quite likely), that the Bulls and Pacers are run by completely incompetent front offices, so how much of the blame can you really put on Ainge and the Celtics?

The Pacers reportedly turned down a Celtics’ offer of three first round picks for Paul George last week. Although they didn’t include the Nets’ 2018 pick, that is still a pretty significant offer for a player you know will be gone in a year. It also most certainly dwarfs the Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis package that the Pacers got from the Thunder. The Bulls turned down an offer from Boston that included the Nets’ 2018 pick for Jimmy Butler before the trade deadline. Ainge obviously isn’t being too stingy, but he hasn’t been willing to sacrifice the necessary assets to land a star player.

The Celtics have players and picks galore, and somehow they’re the ones being taken advantage of. We were all waiting for Ainge to fleece some team out of a superstar, but it just hasn’t happened. Teams are asking so much from the Celtics, that it’s actually rendering their trade capital useless.

The Celtics are still in a good position as an organization, but their hopes of being competitive with the likes of the Warriors and Cavaliers have taken a huge hit. They still have plenty of picks over the next few seasons. However, the time to cash in on the value of their young players is now. Assets in the form of players are mostly only valuable as long as they’re cheap. If the Celtics keep waiting, players like Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, and Marcus Smart are going to be due extensions. Then they’ll really be faced with some tough decisions.

Where do the Celtics go from here?

This is the million dollar question. The Celtics have to ask themselves what their immediate goals are. They’ve blown their chances to be immediate contenders, even if they can add a player like Gordon Hayward. They also missed out on drafting Markelle Fultz when they traded out of the one spot in last month’s draft. This has all been very puzzling and it has left Celtics’ faithful wondering about the direction of the team. Boston has squandered a prime opportunity to return to contention. This is a massive mistake that could potentially haunt them for years to come.

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