After Losing Garnett, It Becomes Clear That Danny Ainge Is Who We Thought He Was
Once he acquired Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, everyone seemed to forget all of Ainge's past failures, and of course all was forgiven after the Celtics won a championship.
Now, as they enter the playoff sans their injured superstar Garnett, it is becoming painfully obvious that Ainge isn't all that he's cracked up to be, and that he is still the same mediocre GM that he has always been.
Am I blaming him for Kevin Garnett's injury? Of course not. Should the Celtics (or any team, for that matter) be expected to compete for a championship without their best player? Certainly not.
However, when you look at the team and their outlook for the future, it's clear that Ainge has sacrificed the future for temporary gain, and it is really starting to cost the Celtics.
Far be it from me to complain about a team that just came off their first championship in over 2 decades. I don't want to sound unappreciative. But was it because Ainge did a great job as the Celtics GM? Or was it simply because there was a GM out there who was worse than him, and that allowed Ainge to stack his team for a quick run at a championship? Pretty much. And did it jeopardize the Celtics chances for another run in the near future? Again, yes, it pretty much did.
If the Celtics hadn't traded for Ray Allen or Kevin Garnett, they wouldn't have won their 17th NBA Championship last year. That's for sure. However, their roster right now would include rising stars like Al Jefferson and Randy Foye and Jeff Green. Or, if Ainge had drafted a little better, they could be sporting a starting lineup of Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Rudy Gay (instead of Randy Foye, who was traded to the Timberwolves in the KG deal), Al Thornton (instead of Jeff Green, who was traded in the Ray Allen deal) and Kendrick Perkins. While that's not as imposing as the Big 3, it offers something that the current version of the C's does not: a future.
The Celtics, even if they had KG healthy for the playoffs, wouldn't even be the favorites in the Eastern Conference this year. Cleveland has improved, and the Celtics have dropped off a bit from last year, even when they're playing their best. The Lakers in the West have also improved with the addition of Andrew Bynum, who was hurt almost all of last year, and throughout the playoffs. The Celtics' window is closing quickly, and there's a great chance that next year, Orlando and others could pass them in the East, and there's really nothing they can do.
Eddie House, Leon Powe and Glen Davis could all be gone after the season. The next season, Ray Allen and Tony Allen could be moving on. Even after those potential departures, the Celtics won't have the money to replace them with equal talent, and if they decide to keep them, they'll have to pay them more to stay. They would be better off letting guys like Ray Allen leave anyway, since he's already getting older, as are the other two thirds of the Big 3.
This team has one shot left to win another championship, and that's next year. After that, the future is not bright at all for the Celtics, and there's really no reason to believe that Danny Ainge will be able to take another rabbit out of his hat and magically rebuild the team once again through the ineptitude of another GM.
Hopefully, the Celtics can see this at some point, and replace Ainge with someone who is more deserving of the job. Otherwise, it could be a long few years for Celtics fans.