The evolution of Trader Danny
“Danny Ainge is playing 9-dimensional battleship,” the Internet would say. “Trader Danny” as he is also known around the league is the Executive Director of Basketball Operations for the Boston Celtics. He has gained a reputation around the league as one of the best traders. It is he who pulled off what will go down as one of the craziest trades in NBA history. I would like to give some context to all of his major trades, from Antione Walker to KG and Peirce to Kyrie. This is my history of Trader Danny.
I must begin by diverging; I first became a Celtics fan in 2003. I grew up outside of Boston and quickly fell in love with basketball because of my father. Naturally, I became a Celtics fan due to location. I remember watching Antoine Walker jacking up 3’s and being pumped about my local team. I love the Celtics and come with a homer perspective.
With that being said let’s begin. In 2003 when Ainge is hired as the Executive Director of Basketball Operations for the Celtics. He began earning his reputation quickly by trading Antoine Walker. Antoine Walker had just finished his 7th season with the Celtics where he was coming off a season where he averaged 20.1 points per game and made an All-Star team. Walker was drafted by Boston 6th overall at the age of 20 from Kentucky University. While in Boston he made 3 All-Star teams and the NBA All-Rookie first team in 1997. For anyone who doesn’t remember Antione Walker, he was a 6-foot-9 245-pound power forward who had guard-like dribbling and passing skills. He also loved to shoot the three. He once was asked why he took so many 3s and he famously responded by saying “because there are no 4s.” Boston loved this guy. This was a Boston guy. Danny shopped him. See you later. Loyalty? Nah. Business. This trade went down on October 20, 2003. This was 9 (NINE) days before the season opener.
Boston sports are championship or bust.
The Celtics sent fan favorite Walker and veteran Tony Delk to the Dallas Mavericks for Raef LaFrentz, Chris Mills, Jiří Welsch, and the Maverick’s 2004 first round draft pick. Danny began to build his treasure chest of assets.
In February 2004 the Celtics as part of a three-team trade helped the Pistons get Rasheed Wallace from the Atlanta Hawks. This trade netted the Celtics Chucky Atkins, Lindsey Hunter and a 2004 1st round draft pick from the Pistons for Mike James and Chris Mills.
The Celtics were crap in the 2003-2004 season. The Celtics went 36-46 and made the playoffs, losing in the first round. Ainge now had 3 first round picks in the 2004 draft, one from Dallas, one from Detroit, and Boston’s own. He picked Al Jefferson, Delonte West, and Tony Allen with those picks. Not a bad haul.
So after one season, Danny turned over a bunch of the team to get draft picks, but he wanted more. The Celtics went 45-37 the 04-05 season under new head coach Doc Rivers and then the team began to lose. They won 33 games the next season and only 24 the season after. Boston missed the playoffs two years in a row. Paul Peirce wanted out. Danny Ainge wanted to win.
During the 2006 season where the Celtics lost 58 games, Ainge made his moves for the future. He traded Marcus Banks, Mark Blount, Ricky Davis, Justin Reed, a 2006 2nd round draft pick, and a 2008 2nd round draft pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Dwayne Jones, Michael Olowokandi, Wally Szczerbiak, and a 2009 1st round draft pick. Ricky Davis was a 10+ points scorer in his two seasons in Boston, Blount and Banks were both young and unproven. This made the Celtics worse but added to the treasure chest.
We now come to the construction of a championship. Ainge took Jeff Green, Wally Szczerbiak, Delonte West and a 2008 2nd round draft pick and shipped them to the Seattle Supersonics for Ray Allen and Glen Davis. Ainge turned his 1st round pick and two guys he got in large trades multi-player trades and turned them into a killer. The Celtics got Allen who was coming off of averaging 26.4 and an All-Star appearance.
The Celtics then made the big blockbuster trade. Danny traded Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair, and two 2009 1st round draft picks to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Garnett. Green and Gomes were the Celtics 2005 draft picks and Jefferson was the teams first pick in 2004.
Ainge opened his treasure chest and pulled out All-Stars Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. First round picks, future picks, and role players acquired in trades turned into the BIG 3. Paul Peirce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett came together to win a championship for the Celtics. Danny got his win.
The Celtics won 66 games and won the NBA championship in 07-08. They returned to the NBA finals in 2010 and lost to the Lakers.
Ray Allen left the Celtics to sign with the Heat in the 2012 offseason and that ended the BIG 3. What happened next will go down as one of the best trades in NBA history. The next offseason Danny decided that it was time to rebuild the team. He wanted to win and the remainders of the BIG 3 were getting old and he saw that window closing.
On July 12, 2013, Trader Danny swapped Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry, D.J. White, a 2017 1st round draft pick, and a 2017 2nd round draft pick to the Brooklyn Nets for Keith Bogans, MarShon Brooks, Kris Humphries, Kris Joseph, Gerald Wallace, a 2014 1st round draft pick, a 2016 1st round draft pick, a 2017 1st round draft pick and a 2018 1st round draft pick.
At the time this seemed like Danny just cleaning house. He got rid of the cornerstones of the past 5 seasons. He even traded the Coach. Just before the blockbuster trade of 2/3 of the BIG 3, Danny traded his coach to the Clippers for a pick.
Ainge went from All-Stars to role players and picks to a champion team. He then dismantled that team to get more players and picks. Ainge unloaded and began his rebuild again. He wanted to win and not just one championship this time.
The Nets trade became the cornerstone of the rebuild. Those future draft picks did not seem like very much at the time, but they became more valuable as the Nets began to decline. The Nets have been one of the worst teams in the league over the past four seasons.
Danny Ainge took a team with Two All-Stars in and turned it into a championship team. He then took apart that team at the perfect time to begin to build another championship team.
Danny Ainge shipped off the last starter from that 2008 championship team to the Mavs in 2014 and got back in a package; Jae Crowder. At the time this guy was a throw in. Danny got a package that included Isaiah Thomas from the Suns in 2015 for some bench guys and a draft pick.
Ainge now had the package that he traded away to get Kyrie Irving from the Cavaliers. Ainge used the first two of the Nets draft picks in 2015 and 2016. He traded away Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the Nets 2018 draft pick for Irving. He took some picks and role players and turned them into the means to get the 25-year-old All-Star from the Cavs.
After the Celtics had been in every trade rumor over the past three years because everyone always thought they would trade some Nets picks away, the Celtics now have Al Harford, Gordon Hayward, and Kyrie Irving. Three All-Stars whom Trader Danny decided to build his team around. Ainge has recreated his BIG 3 but in today’s NBA of small ball and twitter.
Trader Danny gained his reputation by trading anyone at anytime if he thinks he can use that move to get his next move ready to build a championship team. Now the Celtics enter the 2017 season as a full-blown contender thanks to the forward-thinking moves of Trader Danny.