Celtics vice president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said today he would consider a major move involving the Big Three if it would help foster the team's transition to the next era.
The Celtics began the season with eight losses in their first 12 games and there has been increasing speculation Ainge would blow up the team's veteran core of Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce if the team were not competitive this season.
Ainge said he would consider trades if they would net younger talent. He has maintained he does not want the franchise to go through a 10-year span of insignificance as it did following the departures of the previous Big Three of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish, who remained with the team past their primes.
"First of all it’s a different era," Ainge told the Globe. "I sat with Red (Auerbach) during a Christmas party (in the 1990s). Red was talking to Larry, Kevin, and myself and there was a lot of trade discussion at the time and Red actually shared some of the trade discussions. And I told Red what are you doing? Why are you waiting?
"He had a chance to trade Larry (to Indiana) for Chuck Person and Herb Williams and (Steve) Stipanovich and he had a chance to trade Kevin (to Dallas) for Detlef Schrempf and Sam Perkins. I was like are you kidding? I mean I feel that way now. If I were presented with those kind of deals for our aging veterans, it’s a done deal to continue the success."
Ainge said he does not want a repeat of the 1990s in Boston.
"After those guys retired, the Celtics had a long drought," he said. "But those (types of fruitful trades) aren’t presenting themselves. In today’s day and age with 30 teams in the NBA, 15 teams know they have no chance of winning a championship. They are building with young players. It’s a different era that we live in. It’s easy to say conceptually but you have to always weigh what are real opportunities."
When asked to assess the team's first 12 games, which included losing streaks of three and five games, Ainge said: "We haven’t played well as we’re capable of playing. I know we’re a better team than we’ve shown. I’ve seen it in spurts but just not in consistency. There hasn’t been any consistency.
"I think that there's no excuses because every team has had the same training camp but we weren’t prepared. We haven’t been prepared mentally, physically to win. I don’t have the answers as to why but it obviously hurt not having Paul for training camp or the first three games. I think Paul’s been trying to find himself. I’m not panicked, but I think like the players and the coaches, I think we’re better than we’re playing."
Ainge said he will be patient in determining whether the Celtics can compete for the Eastern Conference crown.
"Identify the real reasons instead of looking at the record and we’ve gone through bad stretches before with teams that have won championships and teams that have gone to the Finals," he said. "We have gone through some really ugly, bad stretches before and so I have to be careful to not overreact to a situation that’s going bad vs. a situation that’s not going to get better or even if it does get better, it’s not going to be good enough. That’s my job to evaluate."