After an acrimonious exit at best to the hated Knicks in the first round of the playoffs last year, it seemed the ride had come to an end and the 2014 season to come would be titled: The Celtics are in the midst of rebuilding.
It all started with the departure of Doc to LA, the trade of Pierce and Garnett to Brooklyn and the ACL injury of Rondo seemed to have cemented the aforementioned headline.
Danny did what he does best, he dealt Pierce, Garnett and even Doc for plenty of assets. (First round picks in the next three out of four years) as well as expiring contracts in Humphries ($12Million which will come off the books next year.) He was eyeing the future, just as he did in 2006-07 season when he traded the fifth pick which ironically was Jeff Green to the Supersonics for Ray Allen and a handful of players to Minnesota for Kevin Garnett. He essentially gave up a number of hopefuls (Jeff Green,Gerald Green and Al Jefferson) and serviceable veterans (Wally Szczerbiak, Ryan Gomes, Ricky Davis and Sebastian Telfair) for two sure fire Hall of Famers.
Although no one will admit it, I think the eye on the prize is this years supposedly deep and talented draft. How else would explain the woebegone more than normal Eastern Conference where the 5th-8th seeds sport a .500 or worse overall record.
So this is where I explain how I feel Ainge miscalculated this years team. I think he was banking on Kris Humphries and Gerald Wallace to be less then engaged in this years team, sort of how Bogans ended up: disgruntled even though he was given a huge pay raise in this trade. I mean Humphries showed little to no enthusiasm at their press conference. Gerald has already secured his payday and was placed on a rebuilding team.
I believe he thought Sullinger would have taken much longer to get into a rhythm, coming off of back surgery and Rondo to have taken longer to come back. After all, Derrick Rose essentially took a year plus off. This would have targeted Rondo into February. Not having a true point guard until then could easily have seen the C's in disarray on the court. That basically left Brandon Bass, Avery Bradley and Jeff Green to steer the ship from the proverbial iceberg. Bass is consistent but I have always thought of him as that 5th option on the floor, Avery is known for his on the ball defending and Jeff Green is not someone I would consider as a number one option when you need to take over a game. Also, I can't but sympathize with him. I think people under estimate what he went through physically. Although he is inconsistent, I am willing to give him this full year before I judge his true value. I think $9M a year for the next 3 years is a steal. All that being said, I read into that: Here we come 2014 draft.
However, Jared has done nothing but be a solid, consistent and lately a double/double guy. Rondo, albeit a little slow motion unto Rondo's standards has been a stabling force on the offensive side of the ball, not to mention Jordan Crawford over achieved as a point guard that no one could have prognosticated. Kris and Gerald have often provided that energy, that spark off of the bench which I think has served rookies like Olynk well. I truly believe they have bought into what the 1st year coach Brad Stevens is selling and have been good soldiers.
Speaking of Brad Stevens, I think he might have been the biggest miscalculation of all. No, I do believe Danny saw the upside in Brad, I just don't think he thought he would have hit the ground running as he has with the belief of his players and gotten the consistent energy and effort that he has throughout these past 4+ months with such a diverse cast.
Ainge definitely has put this franchise in the right direction for the future but I think he miscalculated the pride in these players and the Captains leadership.