Although the time has come and gone, the Boston Celtics were once known for one thing more than anything else: draft picks. Over the years, Boston has accrued a heap of picks, all starting with the massive trade that sent Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry to the Brooklyn Nets. In turn, they were able to put together a new young core that has helped the team get to where they are now.
When they traded their two stars from the 2008 Championship team, they entered a brief rebuilding stage. This meant that not only were their picks in the lottery but so were the picks they got from Brooklyn. Once the Nets began to crumble, Boston was picking towards the top of the draft every season.
During this era of rebuilding and draft picks, the Celtics were able to select guys like Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Robert Williams, Grant Williams, and more. It laid the foundation for the team that is intact today.
However, according to a recent story from Wyc Grousbeck, the owner of the Celtics, not everybody was happy with the way Boston went about things. In fact, when former Celtics GM Danny Ainge decided to make his pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Grousbeck got booed for it.
Grousbeck Booed for Ainge’s Draft Decision
On April 30, Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe came out with a piece where he caught up with Ainge, who now works for the Utah Jazz. In the article, a tidbit from Grousbeck stood out. He talked about Ainge’s decision to draft Jaylen Brown in 2016, as well as the repercussions he faced because of it. Himmelsbach wrote about this memory in his piece:
Grousbeck remembered the 2016 draft, when Ainge passed on a trade that would have “cleaned out our cupboard” of future picks and just pushed forward with his decision to draft Brown. Grousbeck was booed when he announced that choice at a public draft party at a Seaport hotel.
Instead of trading away their pick, Ainge decided to keep it and select Brown, a decision that has paid dividends in the long run. Brown is now a one-time All-Star and a crucial cog in Boston’s scheme on both sides of the floor.
The Celtics owner went on to say that, despite the boos, he always trusted Ainge to make the right decisions:
But I trusted in Danny. He just provided a real bulldog mentality where we weren’t going to get screwed on trades. We were going to hopefully come out better than we were before, and guys started getting scared to trade with Danny because he was doing such a good job. That’s all you really need to say about a GM.
Ainge Still Follows the Celtics
After briefly retiring this offseason, and allowing Brad Stevens to take over as Boston’s GM, Ainge joined the Jazz in a special role. According to Andy Larson of The Salt Lake Tribune, that role is to be Utah’s chief decision-maker while also not having to take on the tedious day-to-day responsibilities he dealt with in Boston.
That being said, during his phone call with Himmelsbach, Ainge admitted that he still follows the Celtics. He stated that, while his main focus right now is the Jazz, he still keeps up with what the Celtics are doing because he’ll “always consider them family”:
It’s been fun watching [the Celtics] play. Obviously, my focus is more on the Jazz, but it’s been fun to follow my old team and all my people back there. I still consider them and will always consider them — regardless of what happens from here on out — I’ll always consider them friends and family.
Himmelsbach also spoke with Austin Ainge, Danny’s son, who still works for the Celtics. He said that he and his dad still talk about the Celtics, Jazz, and other teams around the NBA all the time:
I was telling him what I think they should be doing against the Mavericks, and he was telling me what he saw against the Nets. We even talk about playoff series neither of our teams are involved in. But he’s been rooting very hard for us and is very invested. He obviously cares for us in the front office. He worked with us for so many years. He’s super-invested in the players. He spent hours and hours with these guys, and of course he’s pulling for them.
Ainge may not be leading the Celtics anymore, but he’s still keeping tabs on them. After all, he is the one responsible for bringing most of Boston’s current core together.