This summer saw the end of an era in Boston Celtics basketball. Danny Ainge stepped down from his role as the President of Basketball Operations. He was with the organization as an executive for 18 years.
However, the timing was right and he decided it was time to move on. Now that he is gone, it is time to look at the best moves over those 18 years in Boston.
Ainge had his ups and downs, but there was more success than failure. He is responsible for bringing the Celtics their first title since 1986, when they won in 2008. The man was a great GM and had amazing moments. Here are the best three moves he ever made as a Celtic.
The Nets Trade
The era that defined Ainge’s tenure with the Celtics has to be the Big 3 one. That big three led them to a title and two Finals appearances. However, the era seemed as if it was bound to end.
Ainge saw the writing on the wall and chose to trade two legends in Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. What he got in return turned out to be one of the greatest hauls in NBA history. The Celtics grabbed a treasure chest full of draft picks to start their rebuild.
The picks led them to make three Eastern Conference Finals post the big three eras. It led to Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Speaking of Tatum….
Trading Back and Taking Tatum
The 2017 draft was interesting and will be talked about for years. The Celtics finally struck gold from those draft picks and were awarded the first pick in the draft. We all assumed they would take the consensus number one player in the draft, which was Markelle Fultz.
Instead, the Celtics decided to trade back to three and take Jayson Tatum. Rumors began to come out that they wanted Tatum all along and used the Sixers’ aggressiveness to gain a few more assets, along with their guy in Tatum.
The trade was a success, as Tatum has become the face of the franchise. He is so close to being at the upper echelon of players in the league. Fultz has had injury issues from the get-go. Ainge knew what he wanted and executed it to perfection.
Trading for Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett
The Celtics prior to the 2008 season were in a bad state. They finished 24-58 and their best player, Paul Pierce, wanted out. It looked like the Celtics were heading into an ultimate demolition within the roster.
However, Ainge thought it was time to do the opposite. He traded his top pick that year and grabbed Ray Allen from the Seattle Supersonics. That move alone might have shifted the Celtics into a back-end playoff team at best.
The next move was the one that put everything together. That move was trading for Kevin Garnett. Now with Pierce happy again, the Celtics had a big three. They were ready to be contenders.
That is what they were that following season. They were able to have the best record in the NBA and won the title that same season. Ainge swung for the fences and was paid with an NBA title right away.