The Celtics’ quest for Kevin Love came to an end last week when the Minnesota Timberwolves agreed to trade Love to Cleveland, where Love will play with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving on the latest NBA superteam.
The Celtics were ‘relentless’ in their pursuit of Love, attempting to pair him with Rajon Rondo, speed up their rebuilding process, and attract another superstar. It didn’t happen. Falling short in his pursuit of Love is not the first time Danny Ainge has swung and missed at a prized player. With the help of colleague Brian Robb, I take a look at Ainge’s track record, including instances where missing out on Player X turned out to be a good thing, not a bad one.
Allen Iverson, 2006
Skinny: With Iverson wanting out of Philadelphia, the Celtics made a run at the diminutive guard with a package rumored to include Theo Ratliff, Delonte West, Sebastian Telfair, and budding star Al Jefferson. Iverson was eventually traded to Denver.
What happened instead: Only the biggest trade in modern-day Celtics history. Roughly the same package that could have landed Iverson was used to bring Kevin Garnett to the Celtics in the summer of 2007. There’s no telling what would have happened, but it seems pretty certain that pairing Iverson with Paul Pierce would not have yielded the same results as pairing Pierce and Garnett. Next
Chris Paul, 2011
Skinny:The closest the Celtics came to trading Rajon Rondo was for Paul, who at the time was considered the best point guard in the NBA. Paul was due to become a free agent and did not want to re-sign in New Orleans. He also didn’t want to sign a contract extension with the Celtics, which pretty much put an end to Boston’s chances of landing him.
What happened instead: Paul was traded to the Lakers, but that deal was vetoed, and he ended up with the Clippers. Starting with Paul, the Celtics were supposed to rebuild in 2011 but didn’t. Pierce and Garnett stayed two more seasons. Rondo remains a Celtic.
Boris Diaw, 2012
Skinny: A key piece of San Antonio’s championship team this season, Diaw almost shunned the Spurs in 2012 to sign in Boston. Diaw said he was “wooed” by the Celtics before the nucleus of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett split up.
What happened instead:The Celtics made Jason Terry their big offseason acquisition, signing the guard to a three-year deal. Allen left for Miami. The C’s could have used another big man, with Jason Collins, Shavlik Randolph, and Darko Milicic failing to play significant roles. Next
David West, 2011
Skinny: The Celtics courted West before the 2011-12 season, attempting to bring him to Boston via a sign-and-trade for Jermaine O’Neal.
What happened instead: West chose to sign a two-year deal with the Indiana Pacers, a young team on the rise. It really wasn’t easy slotting capable big men next to Garnett during his time in Boston. Ryan Hollins and Greg Stiemsma gave the Celtics their all, but neither came close to matching West’s production in Indy. Next
Pau Gasol, 2012
Skinny: Was a Pau Gasol for Rajon Rondo trade ever in the works? It was at least a possibility, according to one reporter.
What happened instead: Gasol is one of the most underappreciated big men of our era, but Celtics fans know just how devestating he could be (17 rebounds to KG’s 3 in Game 7 of the 2010 Finals). The Celtics wouldn’t have necessarily been better with Gasol than Rondo, just different. Next
Josh Smith, 2013
Skinny: Boston’s rumored interest in Smith has always been centered around Smith’s friendship with Rondo. In 2013, the Smith-to-Boston speculation centered around the Celtics’ need to move Paul Pierce. The Celtics had a sign-and-trade offer ready for Smith, according to one report.
What happened instead: Smith signed a four-year, $54 million contract with Detroit. In exchange for Pierce and Garnett, the Celtics received first-round draft picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018 from Brooklyn. Seems like this one worked OK for Ainge. Next
Austin Rivers, 2013, 2014
Skinny: The Celtics have been interested in acquiring Rivers, the son of former C’s coach Doc Rivers, on a couple of occasions. The first time came last year, when Ainge was considering a buy-low on the Hornets guard. Then, on draft night this year, the Celtics were once again rumored to be interested in Rivers.
What happened instead: Rivers has averaged just seven points per game his first two seasons, but he just turne 22. It doesn’t appear the Celtics need Rivers right now given the glut of guards they have on the current roster, but I like the idea of buying low on a former top draft pick. Next
Reggie Miller, 2007
Skinny: Arguably the most exciting summer the Celtics have ever had could have been even more exciting if the C’s could have coaxed Miller out of retirement to chase a ring with Garnett, Allen, and the gang. Miller passed, despite Ainge saying he thought there was a good chance he’d land him.
What happened instead: The Celtics won the title anyway in 2008 with Eddie House as the team’s designated gunner. Worked out well for everyone. Next
Eric Bledsoe, 2013
Skinny: In exchange for letting coach Doc Rivers go to Los Angeles, the Celtics hoped to pry Bledsoe away from the Clippers.
What happened instead: The Celtics got a first-round draft pick for Rivers, which they’ll use next year. Rivers traded Bledsoe to Phoenix for Jared Dudley and J.J. Redick. Bledsoe has turned into the player Ainge thought he would be, and he’s seeking big money as a restricted free agent. If Ainge ever does trade Rondo, he’ll view Bledsoe as the one that got away as Rondo’s possible replacement. Next
DeAndre Jordan, 2013
Skinny: Same boat as Bledsoe in that the Celtics wanted Jordan in exhange for Rivers and Kevin Garnett.
What happened instead: We talked about the haul the Celtics got for Garnett, and the pick they received for Rivers. Jordan is a great fit in LA. He could have been a fun piece on a rebuilding Celtics team that should get out and run a lot this season. Next
Russell Westbrook, 2011
Skinny:Oklahoma City rejected a swap that would have sent Westbrook and Kendrick Perkins to Boston for Rondo and Jeff Green.
What happened instead: Of all the trades that were ever floated regarding Rondo, the one in which Russell Westbrook came to Boston in return. Rondo could have flourished alongside Kevin Durant without hogging shots, and the Celtics could certainly use an alpha guard like Westbrook. Sigh. Back to the beginning
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