Celtics Have ‘Biggest Decision’ Called Into Question

Wyc Grousbeck, Boston Celtics

Getty Managing Partner, Governor and CEO of the Boston Celtics Wycliffe "Wyc" Grousbeck attends Game Five of the 2017 NBA Eastern Conference Finals.

Brad Stevens and company have managed to piece together a legitimate championship-worthy Boston Celtics squad over the last two years, but, without the likes of Danny Ainge, this franchise could find itself looking much different.

Though the former team president may have worn out his welcome amongst a large portion of the fanbase during his 18th and final season back in 2020-21, the executive’s tenure in Massachusetts inarguably had a major impact on the current state of the ball club, particularly when it comes to their star-studded foundational talents.

In a November 28 article penned by NESN’s Sean T. McGuire, five of Ainge’s past transactions were analyzed, with McGuire discussing the potential “what if” scenarios had they not managed to become realities.

To no surprise, the now legendary 2013 blockbuster trade between the Celtics and Nets involving Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce was found listed within the piece and, as McGuire noted, this current 2022-23 iteration of the team would have looked completely different had Ainge not pulled it off.

“If Ainge was sentimental with the Celtics’ aging stars, as so many Green Teamers were at the time, the organization would look much different than it does today,” McGuire wrote. “In the trade, the Celtics acquired a handful of players that had varying levels of success, but most importantly acquired four draft picks from the Nets.

“The Celtics used two of those first-rounders to select Jaylen Brown (2016, No. 3 overall) and Jayson Tatum (2017, No. 3 overall), both of whom are present-day pillars of the franchise.”

Obviously, the Celtics landing both Brown and Tatum as a result of this transaction are the most noteworthy outcomes to date, but, as McGuire hinted at, they arguably could have gone on to profit even more from the exchange had they played their cards right with the other draft rights they received in the deal.

With the 2014 pick (17th overall) they landed in the trade, Boston would go on to select Kentucky product James Young, who unfortunately fizzled out of the league four years later, while their 2018 first-rounder (8th overall) turned into Alabama combo guard Collin Sexton, though his draft rights had been traded to Cleveland the summer prior in the Kyrie Irving exchange.

Nonetheless, the tough decision made by Ainge nearly a decade ago to trade two legendary franchise centerpieces who brought the club banner 17 back in 2008 is without a doubt one of the biggest reasons why they find themselves listed as favorites to win the 2023 NBA Finals.

Celtics Have ‘Best Duo’ in NBA

Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum have managed to lead the Boston Celtics to incredible heights during their tenures together, as the team has reached the postseason in each of their seasons in the association, have participated in four Eastern Conference Finals, and, just last season, clinched the organization’s first NBA Finals appearance in over a decade.

The wings are without a doubt one of the best tandems in the entire association in 2022-23 and, per a November 23 report by ESPN’s Tim Bontemps, Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic believes they may even take the top spot.

“They’re probably the No. 1 team in the league, and they probably have the best duo in the league, too,” Doncic said regarding the Celtics.

Through 21 games played this season, Tatum and Brown have gone on to guide Boston to the best record in the association at 17-4 while the two have managed to accumulate a combined total of 1076 points, the most among any one-two punch in the association.

Exec Down on Celtics Rookie

The Boston Celtics may arguably be both the best and deepest team in the league this season which, on the surface, seems to be an all-around positive for the franchise.

However, in the case of rookie JD Davison, this could prove to be a detriment to his long-term viability in Beantown.

In a recent sit down with Heavy Sports’ NBA Insider Sean Deveney, an anonymous Eastern Conference Executive stated that, considering how strong the team’s backcourt depth is, the first-year guard likely will not turn out to be a Celtic lifer.

“He is still a year away from being a year away – as the saying goes. He is young, and he is raw, but he has talent, there is no doubt about that,” the executive told Deveney.

“The problem is, they (Boston) have Marcus Smart signed for four years and Derrick White plus (Malcolm) Brogdon signed for three. They have (Payton) Pritchard. They have (Yam Madar) overseas and they have to figure out where he fits in, or if he fits in.

So, Davison, he is not going to play for two, or three years at least. Can they keep him signed and developing all that time? They can’t keep him in the G League, but do they want to give him a roster spot in two years? A lot can change and he probably has an NBA career in front of him but it is hard to see it happening in Boston with the structure they have now,” The executive told Deveney.

The 20-year-old has seen in-game action on three separate occasions throughout his rookie campaign with the Boston Celtics so far and has played eight games for their G-League affiliate team the Maine Celtics where he has averaged 16.5 points, 5.6 assists, 4.8 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and a block on 54.8% shooting from the floor and 36.4% shooting from deep.

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