You know how Danny Ainge fully believes in the Daryl Morey/Sam Hinkie mindset of just collecting assets in order to put together a winning basketball team over a process of multiple years? Well, Ainge just cashed in one of his assets for a MUCH better one, and I couldn’t be happier.
The Celtics traded Marcus Thornton, who is an expiring contract and only served to take minutes away from young guys in the final 31 games of the season, and the Cavaliers’ 1st round pick in 2016 for Isaiah Thomas, point guard for the Suns. Thomas just turned 26, and averaged 20.3 ppg and 6.3 apg on .45.3% shooting last year before Phoenix signed him as their 3rd (!??!) point guard before the season for unexplained reasons. Phoenix now traded 2 of their 3 points guards, Thomas and Goran Dragic, leaving only Eric Bledsoe at point guard for the team.
For Phoenix, the trade makes sense simply because they had to get what they could get, and anyone who has attended 1 economics class can tell you that it’s important to ignore sunk costs. So for right now, the trade of Isaiah Thomas isn’t bad for Phoenix, as they get a 1st rounder for a guy that wouldn’t have much of a future in the desert and seems to rub teammates the wrong way. They might have been able to get more for him if they tried to hold out for a time when his value wasn’t at a relative low point, but they clearly had to move on, so you can’t hate on the Suns for trading him now. But it’s impossible to look at the trade and wonder why in the world they signed him last summer. Although, I guess that signing a guy for a few months and then flipping him for a 1st rounder is a net positive gain, so you can look at it that way.
But enough about Phoenix – we care about the Celtics. The C’s made out like bandits in this one, getting a point guard who can handle the ball offensively, which is one of their biggest holes at that end of the floor. Thomas’ ability to create his own shot will come in very handy for the C’s, especially as Smart continues to grow. Now, Smart can play off the ball, and Brad Stevens will have an easier time getting the offense to focus on Smart’s strengths when he’s on the floor.
I’m going to write about that this does for the Celtics going forward from a strictly salary cap perspective, because I think that’s so important that it deserves its own post. But from a basketball standpoint or a draft pick standpoint, this trade was a no-brainer. The Celtics are gonna have so many young players coming onto the roster between 2012 and about 2017 or 2018 that a pick in the 20s, like the one from the Cavs that the Suns got, loses its luster a little bit simply because there are a limited number of roster spots. At some point, Ainge was gonna have to cash in some of those 1sr rounders, and cashing in one of the lowest ones that they have for a guy who fits what they need so well is an awesome move.
Remember the days were Danny Ainge should have been fired, according to just about anyone you asked in Boston? Well, his strategy of cashing in assets got them Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, and now it is going real well in the current state of the team. There’s still a long way to go, but I’m pretty happy with Ainge as the GM right now, a point that I’ll make further when I dissect the trade from a salary standpoint.
P.S. Thanks Billy King.