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Schwan: Danny only has one option at the trade deadline

Henry Schwan March 12, 2012 Uncategorized 39 Comments

Danny Ainge has one option as the trade deadline is only three days away. He must hold onto the Big 4, and it’s not because these guys will lead the Celtics to an NBA championship. Ainge has made several mistakes that leave him no choice but to finish out the season with the Big 3 plus Rondo.

Signing Paul Pierce to a four year, $61 million dollar contract in the Summer of 2010 was the first mistake. Danny should have instructed ownership to negotiate a buyout of Pierce’s $21.5 million player option and then go after a younger free agent. Tyson Chandler and Rudy Gay were free agents at the time, and one of them would have looked great in a Celtics uniform. Danny also could have negotiated a partial buyout of Pierce’s player option (say ten million dollars), sign him to a contract, and then trade him. Instead, Ainge worked out a deal with Pierce that if he gave up his player option and took less money, he would get the security that comes with a multi-year deal. Ainge then used the money saved on the Pierce contract to resign Ray Allen to a two year, $20 million deal.

The problem was that Danny committed to two players past their prime. The Celtics needed to get younger and more athletic after their game 7 loss to the Lakers in the 2010 NBA Finals. Instead Danny committed four years to a 32-year-old small forward and two years to 34-year-old shooting guard. Then he went out and signed two calcified Bigs that no one wanted in Shaq and Jermaine O’Neal, because he didn’t have the cap space to sign someone better after the Pierce/Allen deals. That’s not going to get it done if your goal is to move in the direction of winning an NBA championship.

Danny’s second mistake was that he traded the wrong guy at the 2011 trade deadline. It should have been Rajon Rondo, not Kendrick Perkins. There were some realistic options at the time. How about Rondo for Utah’s Deron Williams with some players/picks/cash thrown in by both sides to make it happen? Or what about Rondo to the Rockets for Aaron Brooks and a first round pick. Anyone who says these deals couldn’t happen doesn’t understand the possibilities of creative accounting.

Ainge should have traded Rondo for top market value while he had the chance, but it’s too late now. Some say why trade a guy who has 17 triple doubles in his career? It’s very simple. Rondo can’t shoot! Check out his career numbers. After 6 years in the league, Rondo shoots a respectable 48% from the field. But then there’s the appalling 61% from the line and abysmal 24% from the three-point arc. For a starting point guard in the NBA, those last two numbers are downright embarrassing. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski knew you couldn’t give a Team USA roster spot to someone who can’t shoot. That’s why he went with Russell Westbrook and Stephen Curry over Rondo. Don’t let Rondo’s withdrawal from Team USA just before the final roster was announced fool you. He saw the writing on the wall. Want a more recent example of Rondo’s shooting woes? In Sunday’s loss to the Lakers, Rondo bricked a late three that would have tied it.

So instead of saying “sayonara” to Rondo, Danny traded Kendrick Perkins to the Thunder for Jeff Green. He did it because the Celtics were over the salary cap and couldn’t come close to offering a deal that Perk would accept. Why were the C’s over the salary cap? Oh, let’s see. Maybe it had something to do with committing $81 million to Pierce and Allen.

Ainge’s next mistake is his overall record in the draft, especially since 2004. That year’s top pick was Al Jefferson, who three years later Danny brilliantly traded to Minnesota for K.G. That same draft brought positive contributors in Tony Allen and Delonte West. But chew on this for a minute. In the last seven years, only Rondo and Ray Allen represent draft night moves that have significantly helped the Celtics compete for a championship. Gerald Green, Sebastian Telfair, Gabe Pruitt, J.R. Giddens, Semih Erden, Lester Hudson, Luke Hrangody, Avery Bradley, MarShon Brooks (traded to Nets for #27 pick, who turned out to be JaJuan Johnson), and E’Twaun Moore represent the rest of Danny’s draft magic since 2004. OK, to be fair the jury is still out on Bradley, Moore, and Johnson. However, my eyeball test says only Johnson may have a shot to stick with the C’s for any lasting period of time.

I’ve laid out the major mistakes Danny made that force him to ride out the 2011-2012 season with the Big 4. But maybe Danny’s biggest blunder is none of the above. Maybe he just didn’t have the courage to trust his instincts. Danny has admitted the late Red Auerbach told him that he had the chance to break up the original Big 3, but didn’t pull the trigger. Danny said he didn’t want to make the same mistake Red made and watch this second version of the Big 3 become old and irrelevant under his watch. But that is exactly what has happened.

In a weird way maybe the Chris Wilcox heart situation will force Danny to trade one of the Big 4 on Thursday night for a quality post player, but don’t bet the house on it. A move will be made for sure on draft night, but don’t expect anything earth shattering. I give Danny credit for the K.G. and Ray-Ray trades that brought brought the Celtics a seventeenth world championship. But it didn’t have to come to this. Danny, you should have trusted your instincts and moved a piece or two of the Big 4 for quality talent while you had the leverage.

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  • http://lucidsportsfan.com LucidSportsFan

    I think there are still options, but at this point it would be a mistake to break up the core this season. As a fan, I like watching them play together, and even though they probably won’t get very far, I’d love to see these make one more playoff run http://www.lucidsportsfan.com/2012_03_01_archive.html#7250325199531595882

  • http://profile.typepad.com/geezeeceltics GeeZeeCeltics

    I don’t quite get why you had to point out so many things as mistakes leading up to keeping the Big 4 together this season. Resigning Ray and Pierce totally made sense; we were playing very good basketball until injuries dented our plans in 2010-11, most notably Rajon’s elbow in the playoffs. It may have been what truly doomed us in the playoffs. Well, this year obviously we are not playing great basketball, but I think we have the potential to be substantially better.
    All that is for naught, however, because riding this season out in itself is no mistake. The cap situation Danny has set us up is very good. That’s why I don’t see having to keep the four together as a mistake or anything bad.

  • Danno

    Hilarious.
    John and Chuck gave everybody here an earful of shit about all the negative, anti-rondo posts in the comments all last week. To the point where they were making full on personal digs at certain longtime readers/posters in their columns because they were sick of the Rondo talk.
    Then they publish this. Which is pretty much word for word what a number of us have been saying for months now.
    Sorry folks, but as much as you might hate to admit it, Rondo is the story. and the Story is about how he’s dragging the team down in several ways.

  • Alex

    In defense to John and bigmck, this isn’t their article. It’s schwan’s article, therefore it is HIS opinion. Btw danno, you come off as a Dick majority of the time… Can you take a chill pill once in a while?

  • Rondo To KG

    Too many assumptions were made in this article. Assuming that Rudy Gay would have signed with us had we cut ties with Ray and Pierce, that the Jazz would have given up Deron Williams for Rondo, and that the Rockets would give up their first rounder and Brooks for Rondo.
    It’s easy to criticize a GM for trades you think might have been possible but evidence has shown that teams just don’t give fair value for Rondo. It’s fine to want to see Rondo traded, but its completely short sided to do it without making sure we get the most out of it and had the Jazz been willing to part with Deron, don’t you think Danny would have jumped at that opportunity?

  • Danno

    I post my opinions. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. I like this site because it’s normally full of literate, intelligent Celtics fans, unlike most other hoops blogs. Most of the regulars here can see the bigger picture, and understand not to get too emotionally invested in this stuff. After all, it’s just entertainment.
    But lately I might seem a bit ornery, because:
    a. The Celtics stink lately. Inconsistency and lack of size is killing them. That and Rondo’s Jeckyl & Hyde act.
    2. Lots of cuckoo fanboys are infesting the comments and bringing the level of maturity and intelligence down a few notches lately. I won’t name anyone specifically, but you get my drift.
    c. I don’t like being told what to think or what opinion to have by anyone. Not in the comments section, and certainly not in the published articles. John & Chuck are great writers and provide an entertaining outlet for Celtics fans here, but lately it feels like they feel pressured to tell people how to act and how to think “or else”. So I occasionally tweak them for it, because it isn’t really necessary.

  • Sam

    I agree that Danny may have fallen (like a lot of us fans) into the sentimental trap of keeping the gang together after Game 7 rather than blowing it up when he had more leverage.
    For all his talk of how Red let his feelings get in the way of the franchise’s future, the trigger is certainly harder to pull when you’re the man in charge.
    However there’s no certainty Gay or Chandler would have signed with the C’s had he elected not to re-up with Pierce and Ray.
    I think the Celtics are in a great position cap-wise and, even though there most probably will be a transition (unless something downright crazy happens – like Dwight Howard deciding to take is talents to Causeway Street to play for the Boston Celtics), there’s no reason to panic and dwell into what could/should have been.
    Yesterday, I thought Rondo showed great composure taking those jumpers in the face of the sagging Kobe and hitting a nice part of them. Bashing him because he didn’t hit a desperate 3 pointer at the tail end of regulation quite simply blows my mind.
    Hell yes he needs to improve his FT percentage and his consistency, but yesterday I was proud of how he handled himself against a defense that flat out ignored him from mid-range, daring him to shoot those damn jumpers.
    Shorty still has room to progress, and I hope he’ll continue to grow before our eyes.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/mdsample greenbeand

    your basketball IQ sucks. it works in fantasy league or wishful-thinking best case scenario, but unfortunately the reality is this was a bridge-gap year. it was a lock-out season were there wasn’t any time to lay a road map or sign players.. did other teams make dramatic moves? maybe the plan was to hold the vets and build #18 for next year? w/o jeff green, david west, and the rash of injurues everything else was inevetble. bottom line is rondo needs fresh blood to run with.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/licktheglassitol Classless

    Danny talks a big game about trading Bird and McHale if he was Red, but look at the results now: he’s a hypocrite. I think we can all agree the Celtics aren’t the Patriots. They are obviously sentimental with Pierce and afraid of scorning him and his fans. Belichick would have sold high on him after 2010. As a fan, i want Pierce to retire a Celtic…but that’s why i’m a fan and not a GM.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/bwilson71 Bwilson71

    The fact he’s exactly right must bother you, huh? Schwan nailed the vast majority of this article, and he’s right about Rondo. Not a SOUL around the league worships Rondo like the green-shaded Rondo knob-slobberers who think an occasional triple-double cancels out all the bricks and the ball-stopping pounding of the rock at the top of the key.
    If they did, it wouldn’t be so damn hard to unload him, would it? Despite all the idiotic “fair value” arguments like the one below. Get it through your heads: The league doesn’t think Rondo’s that good.
    In defense of the management, though, the Rondo worship here pales in comparison to the Rondo fellatio on Celticsblog.
    I don’t agree that all is lost unloading Albatross #9. But after Thursday, it might be.

  • andrew

    I have been reading REdsArmy for about 4 or 5 years now and have liked it for the most part. I like that everyones opinion is heard and you can vent about your frustrations and opinions.
    On this particular article i think it is way off base. Its like a stuck up Lakers fan would write. You cannot expect Ainge to be perfect. I think he has done a great job. We have competed for a championship for the last 4 years and won one and gone to two. The other two years injuries derailed our run.
    As Skip Bayless would say….Mr Schwann or whoever wrote this article is a prisoner of the moment. This season we will still have a shot before it all said and done and the plan is to have the huge cap space we have next year to rebuild. We can get an Eric Gordon and Roy hibbert. Or possibly a deron williams and dwight. To go along with Pierce an Rondo that is still a contending team. There has never been a trade that has wowed Ainge. Otherwise he would have pulled the trigger. No one is offereing young talent. Stop being a spoiled brat and be content that we still have a good team.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/mdsample greenbeand

    agreed these hack writers act like populous muppets. but why do you hate rondo.. what gives?

  • AboveTheRim

    You forget or omit Ryan Gomes, Glen Davis and Leon Powe?
    Hey, if KG’s knee doesn’t blow out in 2009 and Perks’ in 2010, you’re looking at a 3-Peat.
    And Jeff Green wasn’t a bad flyer. The reasoning was sound knowing you couldn’t resign Perk and needed a younger wing player and someone that can defend the stars of the East; LeBron, Melo and Wade…
    The sky ain’t falling. Let these guys play and wait til the games count in May and wait til they get 3 days off between games to rest.
    Don’t doubt Hall of Famers’ (3 of them) will to compete.

  • KY Celts fan

    My rebuttal:
    1) The 2010 signings – Pierce is THE guy in Boston. Has been for over a decade. There is a great deal to be said of loyalty from both sides, as well as fan love. What would Spurs fans say if they told Duncan to hit the bricks? Or Mavs fans with Dirk? Look no further than Colts fans reactions to releasing Peyton. You don’t do that to your franchise guy and to your fans. It’s just wrong. Especially if the guy is willing to take a hometown discount to help out his team, as Pierce did.
    As for Allen, the guy may be 36 but he is not old. And certainly wasn’t then. These were both great signings then, and I feel great now. But hindsight is 20/20, and that’s how I believe you’re viewing these signings. I’d like for you to show me that you were advocating for a Pierce buyout two years ago.
    Also, Rudy Gay was a restricted FA in 2010. Can you seriously tell me you wanted to release our franchise player for the chance to throw money at a guy that Memphis can match? And Chandler – yes, I would love to see him as a Celtic. But he’s not worth Pierce and Ray. Even an old Pierce and Ray. He’s barely an option on offense in NY, just as he was in Dallas. He’s Kendrick Perkins+.
    2)Trading Rondo – Who are you to say he didn’t pursue a Deron Williams trade? Problem is, Utah wanted more than just a player. They wanted several young players, and draft picks. Neither of which Boston had. And no fancy accounting was gonna change that. And Aaron Brooks? Please. And you’re really gonna use an 30 foot 3pt attempt with less than 2 seconds on the clock as proof Rondo can’t shoot? After Ray, Pierce, KG, and Bass all missed jumpers? Really?!
    And the Celtics were over the salary cap before the 2010 signings. And we are allowed to go over to sign our own players. So that has nothing to do with the KP trade. Danny didn’t want to pay $9 million a year to center who barely averages 8 and 8.
    3) The draft – Danny has been hit and miss. Just like EVERY OTHER GM IN BASKETBALL! Show my a GM was bats .1000 on draft night, especially when you’re picking from the bottom.
    4) Danny’s “instincts” – I am so sick to death of hearing the story of how Ainge would have traded the Big Three. And now people are saying that Ainge doesn’t have the balls to do it. Or maybe it’s because in that past 20 years, Danny Ainge gained a little bit of wisdom and learned something that Red already knew at the time: Don’t piss on a guy’s head while you’re standing on his shoulders.

  • KY Celts fan

    “prisoner of the moment” – I like that.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/kwapt KWAPT

    Well said. I especially relate to a and 2. You’re a consistent and long-time commenter and I respect your honesty as much as I don’t like it all the time.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p01156f6f0b73970c Celticsfanatic

    You only see Johnson as being able to stick with the C’s? Really? I see all three. Moore is having probably triple the effect on the floor as Dooling is and Doc is only sitting Moore because Dooling is checking in close to three million a year. Maybe it’d be accurate to point out more of the free agency blunders Danny has made, but the trio of Bradley, Moore, and Johnson have all shown the talent to stick with the Celtics. If anything, Bradley and Moore have shown more to me and Johnson’s numbers are just the result of some undeserving playing time. He’s played well for stretches but he disappears for portions of the game and it’s hard to play good defense in the post when most good post players have quite a bit of beef on you. Bradley is finally sliding into his bench role nicely — JVG even called him “one of the premier guard defenders in the league” on Sunday and ensuing that comment he showed his offensive talent by knocking down a corner jumper with a hand in his face. He’s an excellent cutter, has good shooting skills and obviously great defensive prowess. If it wasn’t for Dooling’s poor play Doc could focus on shifting him to his more natural two spot, despite being undersized, and we could get a jumpstart on furthering his effectiveness on the court. He has the athletic tools to be fairly close to stardom in this league, it would be nice if that came sooner rather than later.
    You can blame Danny all you want but hindsight is always 20/20. For half a season last year we were easily considered by any major sports network as the East’s best team and maybe even the best team in the league. Shaq gave Cleveland a pretty solid season before and an even better season to Phoenix just two years before that. Even if he goes down 20 games last year, which was basically the expectation, we knew we would have Perkins sometime around the All-Star break, Jermaine could be counted on for a few games and we had Semih as a stopgap who actually turned out to be a pretty good center. Both Jermaine and Shaq were atrocious once we hit the midseason mark injury-wise and once Marquis went down — which was the real reason for Perk being traded — we HAD to trade Perk and the season was basically over after that. His knee was questionable, sure. We weren’t sure if we could retain him, sure. But the real factor was it was absolutely certain that we would have ended up in the same spot we ultimately did had Pierce gone into the playoffs without a legitimate backup, and why not take the risk when you have nothing to lose?
    Even if we only spend one to two years rebuilding — which doesn’t even have to happen given Danny put us in unbelievable position with solid picks the last two years, two first round picks this year and loads of cap space — Danny gave us a championship. We KNEW when we traded for Ray and Garnett that we weren’t going to experience a dynasty. They just seemed too old and took up too much cap. So why are we complaining now when all of a sudden we have the opportunity to maintain one? It’s possible if not for injuries that we could have won four championships in four years — we were talented enough every year except this one. And now we have the chance to bridge that era to the new era immediately and we’re bitching? I just don’t understand.

  • Celtics_champs

    Let they finish this year. Is fine, we can still enjoy the game having a bit lower expectations for this year. I think Rondo will get bette, his shooting already improved this year – he had/has a difficult task of maniging the slow pace of the team with his own way of playing.
    Did you all realize how much Kobe wants to play with Rondo? I guess he see Rajon’s value more than everyone.

  • T. Best.

    It doesn’t take balls to trade your guys to another team; it takes balls to keep them. The NBA is a frickin’ mess because teams ship too many players away just for the sake of making a move. I HATE Shaq and J O’Neill and then I’m supposed to go schizo and love them because they come east. Stand by your guys and create a TEAM. The Knicks have made 12 millions and assembled “talent” – last I looked, they still sucked. And they haven’t had real, meaningful players – players embraced by franchise and fanbase – the way the Celtics have.

  • James Eisenman

    This is an idiotic article, filled with nonsense and half truths. We wouldn’t have gotten to the finals in 2010 if Ainge hadn’t made the moves he made. Almost none of these comments are realistic or correct. They’re just a bunch of unfounded suppositions that were made by someone not very knowledgeable about basketball. Plus, one thing – while I have defended Danny, he is wrong about one thing. I don’t believe, for a minute, that Red ever told Danny that he was sorry he didn’t trade Bird, McHale or Parish at the end of their careers. It might be a bit of revisionist history by the only guy from that era that Red did trade – Danny Ainge.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p01156f5d5008970c Jester00

    Doc Blew 2010 having Shelden “hands of stone” Williams Dress instead of Scallie in in game 6 don’t care what anyone says

  • Danno

    Absolutely 100% correct.

  • Alex

    I have to agree with this.
    Scalabrine is actually a player that can contribute, while Shelden was seriously a piece of crap on the court.
    This just reminds me of what Doc is thinking when he plays Dooling so many damn minutes.

  • andrew

    i am with you ky celts fan. This article was horrible, just like bill simmons article on espn a couple weeks ago

  • http://profile.typepad.com/redslovechild1 Redslovechild

    It`s not all Danny`s fault…Bad luck played a key role.
    KG had never been injured in his career, then suddenly his knee gave out in 2009. Nobody expected that, and KG was never the same player again.
    Without the KG of before, that created a sort of domino effect…they lost much of their swagger, they were more vulnerable in the paint, the parade of washed-up bigs to bolster up their paint presence {Sheed, Shaq, JO}, etc.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p0120a584cc24970b sam_lt

    Perfectly put Andrew!

  • Tyler

    Just goes to show we should have stuck to the Three year window which is what Danny Ainge originally said.

  • Ben

    Rajon Rondo for Aaron Brooks??? Are you OUT OF YOUR MIND!!?? Im sure Aaron Brooks would have been a great pickup considering he hasn’t PLAYED A GAME THE ENTIRE SEASON. Danny could have resigned Perk in the offseason, but he knew that Perk was overvalued. Rudy Gay was a restricted free agent that signed a Max deal with the Grizzlies, thus making it impossible to sign him as the Grizzlies would have matched any offer. You are stupid, with terrible facts. I love this site but that was the worst article I’ve seen on here ever please don’t post garbage like that again unless this was some sort of experiment.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/danmcdonald Danno

    You do realize that Aaron brooks played a full season in China this year, right?

  • henry.schwan@comcast.net

    Hi Danno. Yes,I know that. As I wrote in my column, I would have supported Rondo for Brooks and a first round pick at the 2011 trade deadline. Brooks would have finished out the 2010-2011 season with the C’s. Who knows. Maybe Doc and Danny could have convinced him and his agent to wait out the lockout and not sign a deal with the Guandong Southern Tigers. If he ended up going to China, the C’s still could sign him to a multi-year deal upon his return before he became a restricted/unrestricted free agent. I know Brooks doesn’t rebound or pile up the assists like Rondo, but he’s quick, can shoot, and knows how to run a team. Remember, I said in my column that a first round pick was to be part of the hypothetical deal. That pick would be used to draft or trade for a big.

  • paul

    Why would anyone bother to ‘rebut’ this flaming load of bollocks? If you want to take the measure of this article notice that this ‘writer’ points to Rondo’s desperation heave yesterday, with two players in his face, as ‘proof’ that Rondo can’t shoot. Ludicrous, and what an embarrassment for Redsarmy.

  • paul

    I love it, Hater. It’s to the point now where you guys convict yourselves so blatantly that it’s pointless to respond. Well done. You rebut yourself.

  • paul

    Bullies don’t like human beings who retain their individuality.

  • paul

    This article is a dark fantasy. That’s about it.

  • paul

    Lol! Loyalty is a ‘sentimental trap’ now!!
    Think about it, my friend. Without loyalty, you can’t have team. It’s an essential ingredient in team sports, and it’s not a one way street, is it?

  • http://profile.typepad.com/bwilson71 Bwilson71

    As is usually the case with your ramblings, you are confused. One who disagrees with you is a hater, eh?
    I’m always amused by those who can’t offer up anything intellectual in rebuttal, just name calling.
    Please continue. You amuse me.

  • Rondohondo

    Mr. Schwan maybe you should stick to selling food and not trying to tell GMs what their doing wrong in “your” eyes!

  • Rondohondo

    Agreed 100% When I read this on Facebook I wondered wtf was going on over here!

  • Derrick Rose

    Since they are old, as you said why don’t the Cs trade Ray Allen and KG to Chicago Bulls for Carlos Boozer. Carlos Boozer is young and has a strong inside presence. He is also an all star. Cs will clearly benefit from this trade.