Saturday, June 24, 2017

Only So Many Successful Swindles Per Swindler

Celtics fans are unhappy because Danny Ainge has so far been unable or unwilling to use Boston's endless array of "assets" (pretty good players plus many high draft picks) to acquire the likes of Kristaps Porzingas, Paul George, Jimmy Butler or Zombie Wilt Chamberlain in a trade. This is because Celtics are spoiled and Ainge did it.

I think one reason Ainge may not have made any trades to date, and appears likely to pursue free agents instead, is that's he's spoiled, too. His standards for successful larceny are too high for normal flesh market wheeling and dealing.

Ainge brought a title to Boston by acquiring Kevin Garnett, instant Hall of Famer, for Al Jefferson, competent NBA player. That's a steal of heroic proportions. He then traded Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Nets for the franchise's first born children, excuse me, draft choices until the next century. That one made Bernie Madoff jealous.

So it's understandable that when Ainge enters trade talks, he may don a mask and carry a gun while on the phone with other GMs. However, trades that benefit only side are just any other trade in one respect. You need a victim, I mean partner.

On the radio, Ainge sounded genuinely offended that Knicks leader Phil Jackson had demanded a great deal in return for Porzingas. You could imagine the thought balloon over Danny's head. "If Phil is bat-brained enough to trade his best player, why isn't he bat-brained enough to do it for almost nothing? The nerve of the guy."

On draft night, it turned out the Bulls were willing to ship Butler out of town for what could at best be described as an adequate return, a price the Celtics could've surely bettered. Ainge insists the Bulls wanted more from Boston than they got from the Timberwolves for Butler. This is plausible. Teams with more assets get asked for more in any trade, on the grounds they can better afford it and are presumably seeking a quick return on investment, such as reaching the NBA Finals.

OK, Ainge wouldn't bite. It is not to question his judgment to wonder if said judgment is overly influenced by his marvelous ripoffs of yesterseasons. Maybe to Ainge, a trade short of a coup is defined as a bad one (Swapping the number one for number three pick in a draft short of perceived historic talent is more housekeeping than anything else).

Free agency is so much simpler. Money offers are fixed by collective bargaining. This leaves franchises to offer, well, themselves. They can and do present their management, coaches and players as the best chance free agent stars have of ultimate victory in a league where dynastic powers have been the rule since its inception.

Blake Griffin and/or Gordon Hayward may well choose Boston. But I doubt the Celts' 2018 and 2019 draft choices will figure in their thought processes.