The NBA just saw its most one-sided trade since Danny Ainge sold one year of Paul Pierce and two years of Kevin Garnett into three top 5 picks, essentially. The Celtics had the opportunity to be on the receiving end of this one, as well, but Danny Ainge passed for reasons that will likely remain a mystery forever.
The Sacramento Kings just traded DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans for Buddy Hield, Langston Galloway, Tyreke Evans, their 1st rounder this season, and Philly’s 2nd rounder this season.
New Orleans just got a 26 year old, 3x All Star for the 10th-15th pick in the draft, a good 2nd rounder, a 23 year old rookie with a 9.97 PER, a 25 year old with an 11.25 PER, and a decent player on an expiring contract. I just have one question:
HOW THE HELL DID DANNY AINGE NOT BEAT THIS OFFER???
I’ll admit that I’ve been very high, maybe too high, on Boogie for some time now. Like when I wrote this piece titled “Celtics should go all in for DeMarcus Cousins” 12 months ago, when I said that Celtics should offer 2 of the 3 Brooklyn picks plus Terry Rozier and some other stuff for the big man. I also said, “The C’s will have to trade at least 1 of the Brooklyn picks without a doubt, but I’d try as I could to not trade Marcus Smart.
Turns out, the price would have been Rozier, Tyler Zeller, a 1st round pick, and either another 1st or one of the Euro guys that Danny stashed last year. (You know Vlade Divac would have loved one of the Euro big men.)
Danny Ainge has always thought in terms of assets, and he has been 100% right to do that. That’s how he got Isaiah Thomas for a 1st and Jae Crowder and two 1st rounders for half a season of Rajon Rondo. He HAS to know that DeMarcus Cousins is a much better asset than the pile of garbage the Pelicans sent to NorCal.
Even if DeMarcus Cousins wound up clashing with Stevens and reopening his beef with Isaiah, Ainge could have dealt him during the summer for at least 80% of the same price. At best, you just got the final piece that takes you over the Cavs and the Warriors by 2018. (Even with Cousins, a title in 2017 would still be very unlikely.) At worst, you lose a little bet of your chip count that is still loaded.
I’m still thrilled to have had Danny Ainge leading the Celtics’ front office for the last handful of years, especially during this masterful rebuild. However, the point of hoarding assets is to be ready to pounce when a superstar becomes available. If the C’s aren’t huge fans of Boogie, then that’s totally fine. But when the price for a top 15 player is this low, you have to do it. Danny Ainge didn’t pull the trigger, and I’m not sure that he’ll get another shot this good for a long time.