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Why Danny Ainge Deserves Blame for Doc Rivers Trade Saga

 

Doc Rivers has created a little bit of a mess for himself. Just two years after signing a five-year contract extension in the summer of 2011, he’s being accused of abandoning ship after a publicized flirtation with the Los Angeles Clippers. Rivers has rightly taken some heat in the media (as he should) as this doesn’t look good for him as far as his loyalty and word is concerned.

If you look a bit deeper into the story, there is much more at play than a high-profile coach who wants to avoid a rebuild and skip town. Several underlying factors, encompassing the past several years are involved. Before you accuse me of getting Rivers a free pass, I’ll note we haven’t been afraid to criticize Rivers in the past here at CelticsHub for anything from a stale predictable offense to questionable rotation decisions.

This Clippers flirtation, however, is a situation in which I’m prepared to defend Doc Rivers, not attack him. There is plenty of blame to be passed around for the handling of the situation.

Rivers should not be absolved from it entirely, but if you are looking for a person deserving of the lion’s share of the blame for how this ordeal has played out, look no further than the president of basketball operations.

The blame deserves to lie with Danny Ainge.

THE CONTRACT EXTENSION

Let’s start from the top here and head back to the summer of 2011. After a disappointing five-game series loss to the Miami Heat in the second round of the postseason, Ainge signed Rivers long-term with a five-year extension. In hindsight, this is probably one of the smartest things Ainge has done in the past couple seasons.

This new contract came in sharp contrast to the year-to-year decision-making Rivers had been doing for the 2009 and 2010 offseasons in regards to coming back as head coach. With the batteries recharged, a roster he liked, as well as a trust Ainge could help the team reload, rather than rebuild on the fly, Rivers signed on. The allure and security of 35 million dollars over five years probably helped too. I challenge anyone to say that would have turned that down on the off chance they would walk away from it years later.

At the time he signed it, I believe Rivers had the full intention of finishing it out. People’s minds change over the course of a couple years, for many reasons. We’ll get to those reasons later.

In return for making Rivers one of the highest paid coaches in the league, Ainge and C’s ownership stopped having to worry about the prospect of his coach leaving every offseason. Yes, Doc could take time off, but he couldn’t go anywhere else without Danny getting one of his favorite things in the world: compensation. Doc was now an asset and couldn’t just skip town at the start of a rebuild. That gave Danny leverage.

THE RELOAD

Fast forward to 2012. The Celtics, thanks to injuries around the Eastern Conference, fall just one quarter short of returning to the 2012 NBA Finals. People can talk all they want about all the breaks the Celtics received (and they were numerous) but they overcame a lot of adversity themselves. There were injuries (Avery Bradley’s shoulder, Pierce’s knee, Ray Allen’s ankle, Green and Wilcox heart surgeries), along with a underwhelming bench featuring a D-League big man, a reverend, and the artist formerly known as Mickael Pietrus.

Seeing two magical postseason runs by the veteran core over the past three seasons was enough to keep Ainge from hitting the rebuild in the summer of 2012. Once Kevin Garnett agreed to come back for multiple years, the decision was officially made. The priority was no longer reloading primarily for the future. Instead, creating the best supporting cast necessary for KG, Pierce, and Rondo took precedence.

Role players like Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, and Brandon Bass were signed to mid-level money deals for multiple seasons, closing the door on any cap room for at least the next two summers. Jeff Green was given a sizable three-year deal as well. Fliers were taken on veteran big men like Chris Wilcox and Darko Milicic. Ainge went further all-in by granting Garnett a no-trade clause. Terry was given a trade kicker in his deal as well. All things considered, a statement had been made. As long as KG was under contract, the Celtics were committed to contending or attempting to. There was (seemingly) no turning back, given all of the obstacles (contracts) in place that would make it extremely challenging to reverse course.

LAST YEAR

There’s no need to rehash last season fully. The team didn’t mesh well from the start. Countless injuries popped up. Rivers threatened to send some of the new guys packing halfway through the season. Ainge missed on helpful in-season free agent additions (Kenyon Martin, Chris Andersen) and instead turned to questionable character guys (Terrence Williams, Jordan Crawford) that Doc never ended up trusting in the postseason.

Eventually, Doc was left playing six guys he trusted for the postseason, and that overreliance (particularly on a Paul Pierce running on fumes) led to the first opening road exit of Doc’s tenure.

Over the course of the season though, Garnett and Pierce carried the Celtics to the postseason itself, helping the team recover from a sub .500 mark after Rondo went down. It was the surrounding pieces, an underperforming (and injured) Terry, an up-and-down Green, an inconsistent Lee, a hopeless Wilcox that let Doc down time and time again. As always, KG and Pierce were the guys that Doc trusted, even if it was ultimately a rundown Pierce that failed to deliver against the Knicks. Those two did their job and earned they money.

THE AFTERMATH

Now, we are left to this offseason. When judging Rivers’ motives this offseason, it’s important to keep a few things in mind

1) He wants to stay in Boston with KG and Pierce.
2) He wants to have a chance to win.

Those are not unreasonable demands given the events of last offseason. At this point, it’s very fair to say that Ainge is at odds with those requests. Ainge has admitted he no longer believes this team is a championship contender on WEEI back in may.

Instead, with this mindset, Ainge has created a bit of a toxic environment. He’s shopped Hall-of-Fame pieces and franchise legends year-after-year to the point where they only agree to stay in town with a no-trade clause. Sometimes even that isn’t enough to keep them around (Allen).

Now, just one year after re-committing to contending, Ainge wants to hit the reset button after an injury-plagued season for his roster. He wants to get rid of the guys who continue to deliver for this franchise year after year (Pierce, KG, Doc) instead of getting rid of the mistakes he signed for.

Wanting to trade Pierce and KG is reasonable. Wanting to trade them when the only return you are going to get is an overpaid athletic center with a hefty trade kicker who can’t shoot and a promising guard who is probably going to be too expensive to keep after next season? That’s foolish. Dealing for late 1st round picks in place of Bledsoe doesn’t solve the issue either.

Garnett and Pierce are still playing close to an All-Star level. They shouldn’t be given away. There is no reason why they can’t finish their careers here, as supporting players (playing under a potential hometown discount in the future) if Ainge can’t get proper value for them.

There is a very realistic option here of running it back, with some fine-tuning to the roster. That would allow Pierce and Garnett to be shopped again at the trade deadline, if the team comes out flat again. It would give Ainge options.

Instead, turning the franchise upside down at the benefit of bringing in some borderline starters and freeing long-term salary has appeared to overrule that reasonable scenario.

THE BLAME GAME

If I’m looking at this situation from an ownership perspective, I have to wonder who created this mess. Is it Rivers who wants to stay the course, and use the only leverage he has to force Ainge to keep Pierce (and in turn, a chance to remain competitive in the East) by threatening to walk away without his veterans?

Or is it the guy in charge? The guy who has been seemingly involved with more trade rumors in the past few years short of any team with Dwight Howard on it?

The guy who has wasted draft picks on JaJuan Johnson and Fab Melo (and yes I feel comfortable stating he’s a bust already) in the past couple seasons. The guy who has spent mid-level money on Chris Wilcox and Jermaine O’Neal since 2011.

Ainge has had plenty of hits in his career, but in the last few seasons, those hits are outnumbered by his misses on both the free agency and trade markets.

When you change the identity of the franchise, you better have a good reason to do it. Moving to start rebuilding a year early isn’t a good enough reason, when you aren’t getting ample value for your assets. It’s fair to wonder whether Ainge is even the right guy to lead the Celtics into a rebuild at this point, given his recent track record.

I’ll always maintain it’s better to be a long shot rather than irrelevant. If Ainge blows it up, Boston will be heading for the latter. And I don’t blame Doc for not wanting to stick around for a scenario (reload, blowup, rebuild) he didn’t sign up for. Doc is sticking to his stance of wanting to be here with KG and Pierce and a chance to compete or walking away from the table. He shouldn’t be faulted for sticking to his guns in that scenario.

Instead, I blame the guy who created it.

  • Danny

    + 1million, thank you Brian, couldn't agree more

  • James H

    I suppose we need to see how this shakes out. But either way, it is going to be awkward for Rivers. And it's kind of sad for Pierce and Garnett. Would have been wonderful to see them retire as Celts, and without all of the constant trade nonsense swirling around them at every turn, thanks to Danny. But, change is never easy and perhaps Ainge knows he needs to get this ball rolling. It just feels like there is a better way to have handled this.

  • Russell

    Here we go again. Your post is a joke. I guess the only reasons for Doc signing the contract extension was if Pierce and Garnett stayed In that case he expected them to play five more years at that point..?? I think not. He liked the money and the money he gets paid who cares if its a rebuild project a coach is there to coach good and bad teams is that difficult to understand?! Doc Rivers is under contract and until its a few months from being up you stay loyal keep your mouth shut make the best of the team you got and earn your money!

  • Michael

    If the Celtics weren't interested in putting Doc in a deal, they could easily have shut this whole thing down. I think Trader Danny sees Doc as an asset, just like he does with everything else, and Boston teams are really great at putting the blame on the guy leaving town.

    My guess is Doc wants to coach PP and KG first and foremost, and I don't have a problem with that. These guys have loyalty for each other, which is admirable. Danny has shown that he's not invested in loyalty for players, which is fine for business, but you can't be surprised when other people don't give you loyalty in return.

    • Danny

      Exactly loyalty is a two way street

    • dslack

      He wants to coach KG first. Pierce is an afterthought for Doc right now.

  • High Rollers

    Definitely the way it’s read in my book. Good post.

  • oldutican

    Celts are in a tough spot with no easy choices. While I agree Ainge is overrated, I wouldn't put all the blame on him for this mess.

  • http://twitter.com/BahstonBean @BahstonBean

    I can't believe someone finally stepped up and stated this! Way to go, Brian…your comments are spot on.

    I don't believe Ainge is fully into his job anymore…he just doesn't seem hungry enough. Starting with the Perkins trade, he has made a long run of bad decisions. As a result, the bench is the worst it's been in years. And now the Doc/KG/Pierce dilemma – it's out of control. Ainge doesn't deserve all of the blame, but most of it. Maybe time for a new GM?

    • MSTRKRFT

      Ainge is not fully committed? Are you sure you don't mean Doc? The Perkins-Green trade is a heist. If you still think it isn't, you must be oblivious to how each respective players are playing in the league. Ainge got us a championship team in 2008. He has put together a team that was contenders for most of the years. This year's bench was stated as the strongest out of any team in the off-season by many news outlets. What we need is not a new GM, but fans who can think with the full capacity of their cerebral cortex.

    • CG12

      Would you really rather have Perk (last seen submitting a putrid effort against the Grizz) than Jeff Green? I am pretty happy to have Jeff Green. But who knows, maybe Perk would have put us over the top last year. But probably not.

      • dslack

        I'd rather not get rid of the starting center on the 2nd best team in the NBA. The decision should not be about where the team will be in several years; it should be about maximizing the probability of winning a championship THAT YEAR.

        • Anthony

          Rondo had the elbow injury that year so winning a championship was pretty much out the window. Had Shaq been healthy, it might have given us a better chance than having Perk.

          Perk had minuses in +/- for the last 7 straight playoff games this season.

          • dslack

            Did Danny have a crystal ball showing him that Rondo was going to tear his elbow?

            And who's talking about this season? Sure, Jeff Green is a much nicer asset to have 3 years later. But what team trades away its starting center at the trade deadline when it has the second-best record in the NBA?

          • GymRat

            To back you up dslack, people seem to forget that Nate Robinson was included in that deal (as well as the forgetable Kristic). Green started to finally play well two years later – though he's never been consistent – and Robinson's post season effort was much more consitent and impactful. We definitely could have used both of them the past two seasons over what little Green has inconsistently provided.

            He's a nice asset for the future, but have to agree with you that those choices hurt this team in the short term, and still have yet to show any real benefit.

  • Russell

    How about loyalty to Rondo who is the one franchise player in his prime. What about developing younger players or taking throw away’s like Pop does for the spurs or what the Pacers do and turning them into ball players like a good coach would. I am KG’s number 1 fan but if you expect us to use a significant amount of our salary cap on him and hope he continues to perform well and go injury free that’s a big gamble. 22 years after the 86 title we got another championship if we don’t move now be prepared for another long drought. And btw to all you uneducated Doc praisers and Danny haters name one other coach under contract that reevaluates whether he wants to return or not more then Doc Rivers. Danny’s job is to stay competitive Docs is to coach a first round exit means some things have to change. The Celtics roster has and will always deal with injuries so stop talking about how the roster appears to be solid in theory because there’s always an injury that changes that.

    • MSTRKRFT

      LOL spot on. It seems like Doc is hallucinating these fans. Where is the critical thinking skills and the ability to analyze the situation? Unbelievable, I almost don't want to accept that our fanbase is so brainwashed.

      • Anthony

        I agree with you some what but maybe brainwashed is a bit too harsh of a word.

  • High Rollers

    On a different note, the look on Ray’s face when Danny Green broke his record was priceless.

    • GymRat

      Best face ever!!!!!!

      And love that the next make was litterly right in Ray's mug.

    • GymRat

      Best face ever!!!!!!

  • Ryan solek

    Danny does deserve blame for this mess, just about every fa and trade he had signed/made since 2011 has been a bust.. That being said this deal with the clippers is better than fair value… It allows the celtics to acquire pieces that can be re-packaged for a real superstar that is well south of 35 to pair with rondo and green… This is a good deal for celtics fans

  • Danny H

    You have to wonder if Doc is upset with some of the moves Danny has made. Specifically, the players and the amount of money they make. Doc admitted at the end of the season “we need more we need more” and the Celtics aren’t really in position to get more with their cap situation.

    Maybe Danny went against some of Doc’s wishes in regards to personnel decisions? Which in turn put the team in a bad place financially to get the players needed to compete, which is why he wants to leave town with KG and supposedly Pierce.

  • Mark

    Certainly adds fuel to the “Ainge isn’t a good GM” fire. Without out the gift of McHale being the GM in Minny Ainge would have been out on his ass years ago. Ainge has been an average GM with his drafting being so-so in the last five years while he’s always made horrible FA decisions. Nearly everyone has given him a free pass for far too long. Seriously, look at all the whiffs he’s had in the draft in the last five years. A complete joke.

    Worse yet will be once this is all over with and Doc, Garnett and Pierce are gone (maybe Rondo as well) half wit Vinny will be the head coach. Just in time for a young asset in Bradley to jump ship.

    I hear Larry Legend is looking for a front office gig. Wyc should hand Larry 10% of the franchise. Larry was magnificent in building the Pacers and he would do great here. I don’t trust Ainge to make good decisions through a rebuild because, prior to 07, he didn’t. In Larry I Trust.

    • CG12

      He drafted Jeff Green and flipped him for Ray Allen. He picked Avery Bradley with the 19th pick. He picked Sullinger with the 21st pick. Bradley and Sullinger were the highest draft picks he has had in the New Big Three era. The first round picks that haven't worked out are JR Giddens (30), Jajuan Johnson (25), and Fab Melo (22 – yes, he is a bust). Very few picks in the 20s or higher work out. So I think arguments that Ainge has botched the draft are inaccurate.

      • Anthony

        So Doc has no say in who the Celts draft? DA shouldn't absorb all the blame here with the FA and drafts.

    • GymRat

      Totally agree with you Mark.

  • Dean

    Are you serious with your article?!? I’d like to see what nonsense you’d spout out if Danny stood pat, rode it out with these guys, they retire and the celts are left with nothing. Youd rip him for letting the team get old, die, and did nothing. You want top dollar? Trade them when they are at the top. I don’t want to relive 15+ years of mediocrity again. Get what you can now to even help a bit. You think Danny could get more and is purposely taking less? Pierce and kg will go nowhere without doc so send them with him before you get nothing and the franchise goes stale again.

  • Jason

    Hey Russell instead of being such a di*k to the author and everyone on this board, keep your gdamn negativity out of the door. Clearly you are NOT “KG’s number 1 fan” coz if you were you’d realize how much KG brings to the C’s defense and how Doc with Pierce is integral to all that. You simply don’t trade your playoffs best rebounder and your season’s best scorer for a guy who can only dunk and some young punk who won’t even resign here anyway. Ainge should be fired if he does all this and we still don’t draft a good player in the summer of Craft and Wiggins coz we would miss the playoffs. I don’t see how u think trading these guys over Lee or Terry or anyone else outside the core without blowing it up… lemme guess you’re one of those old guys still bitter about those Bird days where it was “too late”… let it go man.

  • henrik

    Is this a joke? Ainge deserves blame? WOW

    If some other coach in the league with 3 years left on his deal did what Doc just did, everyone in the media would be all over him. But since it's Doc, he gets a free pass for some reason.

    Ainge isn't perfect GM but he is a pretty good one. Moves he did last summer were reasonable and most of the fans were happy with additions of Terry and Lee. Sometimes things don't work out, injuries happen etc..

    It's funny that the guy who always talks about loyalty and Celtics pride wants to leave the ship once the situation gets tough. Worst thing about this is that before signing 5y deal, Doc knew C's would eventually rebuild in one way or another.

  • JStokes

    Disagree with the majority of this post. Other than the mishandling of Ray and PP, and possibly Jeff Green (which ended up not being as big of a disaster as initially thought), what moves do we think Doc and Danny weren't working together on? Aren't they one of the closest coach-GM tandems in the league? What was the better plan last year? Weren't we touting last season's moves as brilliant given the lack of cap space, and predicting at worst a conference finals berth?

    Let's not pretend this is some grand dilemma that has been brewing for years. Doc has ridden his favorite players here as long as he can, and he doesn't want to finish out his contract with a rebuild. If he really thought he was getting 5 more quality years of KG and PP, that is a gross miscalculation on his part.

    If you want to get mad at Danny for his missed moves, fine. But Doc is leaving on his own accord because he doesn't want to rebuild. He's not getting pushed out the door.

  • High Rollers

    Brainwashing? Cerebral void?

    I’ll stick with a little Occam’s razor on this one, the application of which is spelled out in Robb’s section “The Aftermath.”

    Aside: What is with this insistence on “getting something” before letting your legends retire? Did the mistakes and bad luck of the Nineties create this “they must be moved” mentality? Can’t it be a little more natural? What about creating and sustaining a culture of soundness and excellence? So much cart before the horse business going on right now.

  • Josh_5

    I put the majority of blame on Ainge. Doc wants to coach KG and Pierce in Boston. Either Danny brings those guys back or Doc starts wanting greener pastures. I'm not giving Doc a 100% pass, but this shit could have been avoided if Danny would have just brought KG and Pierce back. Danny is making the bed, so he can sleep in it.

  • hydrofluoric

    Danny's offseason last year was HUGE. The Green contract could have been more favorable and we probably didn't need Bass, but why are we supposed to blame Danny for the fact that JET and Lee didn't pan out? Those fall on Doc's shoulders.

    The Celtics haven't drafted in the lottery for a long time and if Sully comes back healthy then the draft can be considered a big win too.

  • JG

    Let me get this straight, kg and doc could both call it quits at any timeand the celtics are left with nothing. Or they could get deandre Jordan (not exciting – but significantly better than nothing) for KG, and Eric Bledsoe and a draft pick for a coach. (Once again, a coach who wants to leave anyway.) Two starters and a pick or two instead of absolutely nothing? I’ll take that every time. Good work Danny. Locking doc into that contract was a master stroke. And since Bledsoe only has a year left on his deal, trade him for a 1st rounder, as well. The 2014 draft is expected to be a deep one. Lets have one subpar year and a great 2014 draft. We have to rebuild at some point soon anyway… I think doing it this way could be the least painful route.

    • dslack

      DeAndre Jordan is worse than nothing at $13M.

  • Portceltic

    At some point Doc knew a rebuild was going to take place during years 3 or 4 of his contract. So he cant act like an ambassador of Boston anc Celtic Pride, then skip to LA without being criticized. Even with entire ensemble healthy they were no better than a .500 team this season and the 2012 run was partially fools gold when you consider the rebounding deficiencies and the lack of offensive punch.

    Danny and Doc decided on small ball rather than address the lack of size, then committed to contracts he couldn't move at the deadline (Bass/Terry/Lee). So there's plenty of blame to go around. But the point here is Doc was to be the face of the franchise with RR at some point and now he's bailing. Can't blame him for wanting to coach at championship level and you can't blame Wyc for not wanting to pay 7m/year for a coach on a rebuild.

    If we come out of this with a#1, albeit low first rounder, Bledsoe, and possibly unload Terry/Lee for Butler, we're left three young assets, RR and a pair of #1s, and cap space going into next season. We're not challenging Miami, not better than Indy, NJ or Chicago and don't have the assets like a up and coming Cleveland franchise just yet. We're capped out with hard to move contracts. We don't have the supporting cast of the Spurs that can rest their superstars without compromising playoff seeding. That's where we're at, and this era of Camelot has to end.

  • DreMo

    Too much gambling year to year. Larry. Bird. Please.

  • High Rollers

    Another thing I don’t get. With Rondo and Josh Smith being best buds, why hasn’t DA leaned on ATL to do a sign-and-trade, the main parts being Jeff and a pick for Josh? Are the salaries so far off in that one that it wouldn’t work? Fielding Rondo, Bradley, Pierce, Smith and Garnett could have been pretty darn successful in my opinion, not to mention would have probably strengthened the identity of this squad. I also would have seen Green doing well for himself in ATL.

  • CG12

    Let us not forget that Ainge is considering trading KG and Pierce before KG has committed to return. We have no idea whether KG would/will actually play for the C's next year. If the Clips thing doesn't happen, and it looks like it won't, we have no assurance that KG will come back, and Danny has little to do with that. They have always said that KG is the first domino. If he isn't coming back, then we are in the rebuild, and if Danny can get something good for Pierce, will treating PP respectfully, then he should do it. You don't have to get value for stars at the end of their career, but there is also little value in letting them limp to the finish line, getting over paid and injured. Just look at the end of Larry Legend's career.

    • Josh_5

      I believe deep down that KG either comes back (if Doc and Pierce return) or he retires in green. I don't buy for a second the bullshit rumors that he would waive his no trade clause to go to L.A. If Doc goes to L.A, then KG retires.

  • DreMo

    High Rollers. I believe that DA has a plan with Bledsoe on the other side. I bet it involves flipping him for Smith or Milsap, while throwing Bass in there with Bledsoe to rid that deal.

    • High Rollers

      Could be, but I still think Doc/Ticket/Truth would have been an excellent pairing WITH Rondo/Smith. Pure abstract speculation, of course.

  • CG12

    I find all the talk about "loyalty," and who is being loyal and who isn't, kind of ridiculous. In the context of professional sports, loyalty does not mean you stay with someone, no matter what. I'd say the team is being loyal when they are supporting their players, and giving them the tools to be successful, while the team also is respectful of the players' career options. But there really isn't anything more they can do.
    A pro sports team is really no different than any work place in that regard. Being loyal doesn't mean you give employees things they haven't earned or not acknowledging that their skills may not fit a certain position (even if they once did). The best the employer/team can do is be honest with the players and treat them as partners in the success of the mutual enterprise, but with the understanding that results are what matters and that management will do what it needs to do in order to succeed.

    • CG12

      And the salary cap makes it even worse. Even if you are inclined to reward someone for long and valuable service (an admirable thing to do), doing so essentially penalizes the other players on the team, the owners, and the fans. It just doesn't work that way.

  • DreMo

    KG controls his own fate with the clause. Not DA.

  • Cart

    I ask this question: is it better to get SOME value now for assets or wait for them to retire and get nothing of value beyond freed up cap space?

  • DreMo

    KG will walk to LA. Doc is the linchpin in all this. Stephen A was too money, he was talking to either Doc or KG, his info was too on point.

  • james patrick

    I dont' blame anyone. It's over. We had a great run that should've produced more titles but injuries, trades, more injuries. I'll be rooting for Doc, KG and Pierce when they're with the Clippers. I just really hope we get more than Jordan. I just don't feel like we're getting enough.

  • james patrick

    What happened to Blake Griffin in the deal btw?

  • Rob

    You can blame whoever you want, but this is a good thing. Paul and KG couldn't get out of the first round. As soon as I saw the way RAY FELTON was stopping Paul in the knicks series I knew it was over. And the fact that it is a surprise when KG dunks? It's been over. If Doc's head isn't into it then how can we expect him to finish out his contract? much less improve the team he just tried to abandon. Rondo, Bradley, Green, Sullinger and Deandre Jordan is a starting five that will make the playoffs. Also using Bledsoe, Paul (and whatever else) Danny can go out and get a Josh Smith type caliber player. Add that to the sixteenth pick and we have a young team with potential. We can look forward to improvement rather than living in fear of an injury or retirement. I can't wait to see what this roster looks like by the end of draft night. In Danny I trust.

  • DreMo

    KG will walk to LA no doubt. 0. Doc is the linchpin in all this. Stephen A was too money, he was talking to either Doc or KG, his info was too on point.

    Interesting point Stephen A made, about guys coming to play for “Doc Rivers” and not the “Boston Celtics”.

    That much is true. I have NO QUALMS in believing it.

  • EJK

    Completely disagree.

    Here's what makes your entire argument obsolete: When Doc signed the five-year extension (in 2011), he KNEW Pierce and KG wouldn't be playing in 2015-16 (when his contract ended). Doc always knew at some point he'd be coaching through a rebuild without KG and Pierce.

    Seems Doc was ok with that when he agreed to the five-year, $7 million per year deal, but when the time comes to face the music he wants to take the easy road and go coach a more-talented group.

    Ainge has always had the Celtics' best interest in mind. His own goal is to put a championship squad on the court. Easier said than done. Sometimes you have to acquire assets to get the right championship-caliber players, like Ainge did in the mid-2000s prior to the 2007 trades for Allen and KG.

    People who criticize Ainge's draft picks often forget that he hasn't had a top-18 draft pick since 2007. He's been drafting in the late-teens, early-20s for the past six years, and you blame him for missing on some talent. He drafted Johnson with pick #25 and missed out on Jimmy Butler and Chandler Parsons… ok. Thirty teams passed on both guys. There was no guarantee either would be good. He drafted Melo with pick #22 and missed out on who exactly??? No one drafted after him has proven anything in the NBA.

    It's very easy to criticize GMs after-the-fact for draft picks, but the truth is that in the past ten years Ainge has drafted Rondo, Bradley, Sully, Al Jefferson, Tony Allen, and Delonte West. He packaged the Jeff Green pick for Allen, which then brought us KG. He's flipped second-rounders for guys who play valuable minutes.

    Yes, he has obviously missed on some free agent signings, but which GM doesn't. Ever since Pierce, KG, and Allen teamed up, Ainge had limited resources to work with. He had to lure second bananas to Boston with MLEs. He's had limited flexibility.

    Picking on Ainge after not winning championships is easy because it's easy to criticize a GM with 20/20 hindsight. But, it's also lazy.

  • couch dude

    It was bound to happen i like this rather then doc quitting kg retiring n waiving pierce. we would have a potentially great defensive team with the right coach forget del negro that will b a worse hire then pitino!! Why not george karl i think for who we might have he would b a great coach to work with rondos celtics. we will never get equal value for kg or doc but its better then nothing. don’t blame anyone except those who made the new cba this is a bussiness first for everyone gotta make that paper

  • hax

    I like Ainge and the moves he has made. Only one in the league who could trade a head coach who just got completely outcoached by Woodson, and get draft picks, bledsoe…etc.

  • none

    lol it's danny's fault for the team underachieving and not using Terry the right way all year or the bench enough during the season and playoffs? It's danny's fault for letting pierce play 42 mpg against the knicks and average 5+ Turnovers. It's danny's fault that Glenn is a greedy snake who went back on his word and only wants to coach with Pierce and KG around? Gota love the media who kiss up to Glenn the snake!

  • wil

    what you guys dont understand is danny wont be discussing these with the clippers behind doc's back. They have a mutual understanding about the situation.

    No one is getting butthurt after all is said and done, just you fans who dont understand whats happening. Doc Rivers is okay with this, KG is okay with this.

    if things dont go through doc will still be himself, it wont be awkawrd.

    Doc isnt getting forced to do anything he doesnt want. its his choice to go to the clippers, its danny ainge's job to make it happen and be still beneficial to the c's

  • Josh

    Several comments in the string about Fab Melo. Are we really so sure he’s a bust yet. Supposedly everyone knew and said he was a long term project, so shouldn’t we check back on Fab Melo in 2-3 years?

  • Russell

    Very happy majority of Celts fans realize Danny has done a pretty good job as GM not sure Doc has lured players to Boston as some people have eluded too the big three happened cause of Ainge’s moves not Doc being the coach. If you were the manager of a company and signed a five year deal business was getting tougher and every year you told the higher ups you need to think if you wanted to come back your desk would be cleaned out immediately nobody is that valuable Rivers included!

  • Celtics4ever

    WRONG! Doc is the guy who went public. Doc is the guy who wants to leave. Ainge was sticking around through the rebuild not trying to bolt, when last I looked.

  • GymRat

    Thank you B-Rob!!!

    Really great article affirming points I've been arguing in other threads about DA mismanaging the team and that Doc was being faulted for forcing his way out of a contract, when his only real agenda has been keeping the heart of this franchise together.

    I've long lost faith in Ainge's ability to create a winning culture. It's not just about winning games. It's about creating an atmosphere built on trust and the understanding that you are just as committed to your coaches and players as you expect them to be to your organization and performing at their best.

    I'm not sure why so many people defend Ainge. Once KG, PP and Doc do finally leave, as long as Ainge is here this organization is toxic…no stars will play here because they will constantly have to worry about being on the trading block…even with kickers and no-trade clauses and if this trade does happen, who is buying tickets to see Rondo and the inconsistencies with the favorite close game treat of hack-a-Jordon.

    I'd love to see Ainge be shown the door and Larry Legend come back to Boston. Dare to dream.

  • Michele

    I'm so glad someone wrote this article. It seems to me one possibility that no one seems to talk about is that Doc wants to stay but he wants to keep KG and Paul and the only leverage he has is leaving if they leave. Perhaps he doesn't want to leave, he wants to stay with those guys and let them retire Celtics as they should. When Paul walked off the floor against the Knicks for what may be the last time of his Celtics career no one seemed to notice. There was no standing ovation, nothing. Is this the way we let Paul and KG finish their terrific careers here? I prefer the path of keeping everyone together one more year and trying to bring the new guys along. I agree that Danny has had too itchy a trigger finger. It would even be a good business decision. Who would you rather watch next year PP and KG or nobodies?

  • GymRat

    Great article B-Rob.

    It's clearly not entirely the fault of either of them, but Ainge's biggest fault is creating a culture where any and all players are constantly on the trading block and he has shown no committment to the development of any players. Surprising people on here still believe DA and Doc have a good relationship.

    Hate to be a bearer of bad news but a divorce is imminent. That's not how good relationships end.

  • tbunny

    This article is built on some faulty logic and unsourced assumptions pretending to be facts.

    You criticize Ainge for shopping players every year. For me this point is impossible to judge because a franchise like the Celtics generates a huge amount of trade talk every year. Talking heads are constantly talking about "breaking up the big three". It's very difficult in that context to know what was a situation where Ainge was actually "shopping" someone versus some pro forma GM talk versus posturing from unnamed sources within rival organizations versus mere speculation from sports "reporters" who are pretending to have inside info.

    You assume as fact that Rivers wants to stay in Boston with Pierce and Garnett. Has he said this? I haven't seen that said. Maybe it's true, I don't know, but I don't see any evidence for this particular assertion.

    You blame Ainge for shopping Pierce and KG, who certainly did carry this team last year, instead of getting rid of his mistakes. But no one wants his mistakes. He can't just push a button and get rid of Terry and Lee. Pierce, KG, and most of all Doc are the only assets he has.

    You feel the proposed return isn't worth the trade. That's fine, but that doesn't make the situation Ainge's "fault". It's pretty clear this roster, barring an improbable leap in performance from someone like Green or Bradley, isn't going to contend in the East. Yeah they could tweak the roster, hope Pierce and KG and Rondo stay healthy, gamble on some old Celtics magic. I would be fine with that. But it's not unreasonable for Ainge to conclude that their chances are very slim that way. And given that, it's not unreasonable for him to pursue other avenues.

    You think DeAndre Jordan is overpaid. He probably is. But athletic 7 footers are ALWAYS overpaid. And who's to say what the end stage of this will be? Maybe Ainge will then trade Jordan for someone else. Other teams may covet Jordan.

    Overall, I think the blame game is silly. We know way too little to assess motives and actions, particularly when nothing has happened. We don't know what the next move after the current one will be. For all we know Doc and Ainge came up with this scheme together. Ainge said hey Doc, what if we sent you and KG to the Clippers? You get to coach Chris Paul and maybe Griffin and you're immediately on a contender. And Doc said, well, maybe I'm interested?

  • JMoose

    That is exactly what is gonna happen. It is hard enough to get a superstar to want to play for the Celtics and trust me they have to want to play for you know because they have to much control. But with out Doc!!! Just imagine who this frickin goof ball Ainge is gonna have coaching us if he looses Doc.

  • stk

    ainge has had a tough time adapting to the new media. He didnt seem to catch on that every “back room” discussion gets publicized (ie, the allen for mayo trade), yet he also publically states on weei th

  • stk

    that he doesnt thing this team can win (which I disagree with: add Rondo and Sully to what we have and we have a puncher’s chance). Ainge’s comments certainly got back to kg and pp and doc and my guess is unfortunately Ainge’s hang ups from the 80′s Celts getting old is going to rob us all of a chance to watch this team continue to gel with its new role players. I don’t root for green jerseys; i root for players, anf not really Rondo. When Kg and PP are gone I’ll follow them or find some other team. The fact that Ainge thought he could win with two terrible free throw shooters in his line up (deandre and rondo) is similar to his blind love of shooting guards at the expense of front court depth and decent backup pg or two. Ainge did great bringing the big 3 together, but since, he’s been suspect. He should publicly retract his statements and beg doc, kg and pp to come back.

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