Celtics

Danny Ainge is still stacking draft picks, and other NBA executives have plenty to say about it

The former Celtics president of basketball operations is taking on another rebuilding project in Utah.

Danny Ainge
Danny Ainge in 2019. John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Although he’s not in Boston anymore, Danny Ainge is still stacking draft picks in a manner that has other executives venting their frustrations, according to Heavy Sports.

Ainge, who once fleeced the Nets into giving up the picks that eventually became Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown for an aging Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, is in rebuild mode again in Utah.

Between the Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell trades, Ainge has netted seven first-round picks and three pick swaps. And that’s not even mentioning players like Collin Sexton, who landed on the Jazz.

“Those trades aren’t real,” one general manager told Heavy’s Steve Bulpett anonymously. “I mean, I guess they ARE real because they [expletive] happened, but whoa … It’s going to be interesting to see how fast things get back to normal after this — if they do.”

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One league source said he understood the Celtics-Nets trade from Brooklyn’s perspective. The Nets’ then-owner Mikhail Prokhorov wanted to win immediately and thought Pierce and Garnett had more left in the tank than they did.

“But for Minnesota, man, that’s a reach,” the source said of the Gobert trade. “Even if they’re a lot better, it’s hard to see them winning the West with all those teams ahead of them. And then they’re going to look down in a couple of years and see they have no picks.”

While some teams are still betting their futures by giving Ainge years’ worth of draft picks, the difference between Boston and Utah will be the lack of ability to attract quality free agents, one league source predicted.

“It’s not going to be like it was in Boston for Danny,” said the league source. “He really hit on some of those picks he got, but, remember, they also got (Al) Horford and (Gordon) Hayward to come there as free agents. I know Hayward didn’t work out like they wanted; that injury was tough. But those guys were top free agents. I think Danny’s going to find it harder to attract big time free agents in Utah.”

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