Really Important Things: The Debacle That Was Danny Ainge’s Dealmaking

The Boston Celtics aren’t that important.  So this blog isn’t actually about something really important.  Really important things include, for example, the birth of a new boy in my family.  My son is named Gavin Edwards Strachan.  He joined us on Wednesday, and he’s doing great, praise God.

The Boston Celtics, by contrast, are just a basketball team.  That’s all they are.  They play a game.  Games aren’t important.  But they are a part of life, and I happen to love the team in question.  I grew up cheering for them.  The iconic columns of Dan Shaughnessy and Bob Ryan introduced me to sports journalism, and the Tommy Heinsohn Celtics telecasts were themselves a spectacle.  Whenever I visited my grandparents in Lincoln, Massachusetts (an enchanting town), I played basketball in their driveway, and felt as though just being near the Boston Garden would improve my shot.

Having grown up in New England, Celtics country, made it hard for me to see them fall to the hated Heat in the last few weeks of the 2011 NBA playoffs.  One of the great joys of blogging is being able to platform one’s rather humble opinions.  In this case, I want to suggest that general manager Danny Ainge singlehandedly nixed the Celtics’ chances of winning a championship this year.  This is not to say, of course, that the Celts would have won it all.   I’m not sure they would have.  They’re old; Ray Allen couldn’t handle Dwayne Wade, and Paul Pierce looked almost geriatric in the playoffs, outgunned by LeBron James (the NBA’s best wingman) .  However, before Ainge traded Kendrick Perkins, they had had a solid season.  Ainge took a gamble that Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal could spell Perkins.  He lost that gamble.  Shaq barely played this year (though he was admittedly effective when he could play) and the second O’Neal is nearly washed up.  Perkins, furthermore, was much-loved and a great teammate.  He was tough, loyal, and efficient.  Losing Nate Robinson was no small deal, either.  He contributed a lot of heart and energy to the team.

The newcomers, Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic, are both solid players.  But neither fit well in Boston.  Green looked unrelentingly awkward and Krstic failed to register for the most part.  For my part, I would far rather have taken my chances with Perkins and Robinson.  Let me say it again but stronger: Danny Ainge cut the heart out of this team with the Perkins trade.  The Texan might not have resigned after this season, so keeping him would have been a risk, but the Celtics had a chance to win a championship with him, and the emotional boost of his return was a boon to the squad.  Several months later, the small part of me that cares about sports is still incensed with Ainge.

So there you have it.  Unasked for, unsolicited, unneeded–ladies and gentlemen, my thoughts on the 2010-11 Boston Celtics.  By the way, if you want to follow this season on video, check out the splendid show The Association.  ESPN profiled the team this past year and the resulting video was great (dig around online for the other four episodes).

Now if you’ll excuse me, I will let my blood pressure drop, and get back to what matters, namely the new son bearing the name of a certain great New Englander.

  • Dustin Lair

    It was a bad move! I strongly dislike Perkins, but think he is one of the greatest role players there is. Few NBA players know and accept their role. I still don’t think they had enough firepower to win it all with him.

    I’m so glad your blog is back and I feel like I must confess that i’m a Lakers fan.

    • owenstrachan

      Your first paragraph heartened me. You showed that you had discernment, nay insight.

      With your second paragraph, you pulled the rug out. However, because you were nice, the Celtics fan and the Lakers fan can indeed heal the breach.

      Thanks for reading the blog.

  • Brian Ritchie

    I think the point that gets lost in all this is the Daniels injury. It left them with no one to play the 3 when Pierce needed rest. Yesterday Dany said his one regret was not fighting harder to keep Tony Allen. The trade definitely hurt and I love Perk, but they were too thin at the 3 and Perk wouldn’t have resigned. He already turned down the contract they offered him.

    • owenstrachan

      You make a good point. Daniels was a decent player, but Allen really was a stopper in the classic sense. Wild offensively, so I’m not sure I loved his game, but a true stopper.

      Actually, while we’re on the subject of departed small forwards, I loved James Posey. I think he was the unsung hero of the 2008 championship team. He was an incredible defensive player, relished that role (which is key), and oh yeah, made a couple huge, momentum-shifting threes a game. Nobody even breathes his name, but he was a huge part of that team.

      The reason I like Robinson is because he has that catalytic offensive ability. The 2008 team had several of those guys, including Sam Cassell and Eddie House. The 2011 team had none of them. That’s partly why they’ve faltered in key spots the last couple of years. The Big Four gets exhausted and there’s no wild card offensive catalyst to bring in and carry the team for eight minutes.

      You’ve got me talking, Brian. Anyway, good point. Great to hear from you as always. This whole discussion is therapy for my soul–thank you for helping.