It’s been a few seasons since Danny Ainge ran on Celtics. The former team president is now an executive in the Jazz organization, but he still enjoys his time in Boston.
After all, Ainge was a key player in Boston’s championships in the ’80s, and was the man who ran the franchise for 18 years.
So as Ainge reflected on his time in Boston, he was asked about some of his best trades. His answer is pretty revealing of what it takes to land a current Eastern Conference franchise player.
“Some of the best trades I’ve ever made were the ones I didn’t make,” Ainge told Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles on Knuckleheads podcast. “You know, like I’m trying to get Jimmy Butler from Chicago when I was in Boston, but they wanted a lot. And so we didn’t do it. Because it was supposed to be, and it was supposed to be over Jaylen [Brown] and Jayson [Tatum]. The two draft picks … that we got with Jaylen and Jayson, so that’s one like I love Jimmy and I’m trying to get him … Jimmy could have been drafted later, I liked him before . But like today, he will prove what a good player he is. Yeah, maybe that’s one. “
“Some of the best trades I’ve ever made were the ones I couldn’t make.” 👀
— The Players’ Tribune (@PlayersTribune) August 14, 2023
Boston took Brown with the No. 3 pick in the 2016 draft, and signed him to an NBA-record contract extension this offseason. Tatum was selected with the No. 3 pick a year later, in ’17, and he could make a life-changing move next offseason when he’s eligible for his supermax contract extension in Boston.
Sure, it would have been nice for Boston to land Butler all those years ago, especially after seeing how he led the Heat to the Eastern Conference finals victory over the Celtics last season. But considering where the Celtics are now, building two young franchise players, Ainge might be right. Sometimes some of the best trades are the ones you never make.