Tuesday, August 22, 2017

All In Off a Guess on the Other Guy's Hole Card

Danny Ainge likes to gamble. An NBA GM who doesn't should be in another line of work. As a veteran gambler, Ainge knows the time to bet big is with a big stack. But big stacks are not always the professional gambler's best friend. More often than not, they do their best work when the stack's low and the rent is due.

Thing is, gamblers like to gamble. And by trading Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder AND the Nets' unprotected draft pick next year to get Kyrie Irving, Ainge has bet close to his whole stack without really knowing what hole card his opponent might have.

Might be a great bet with a huge reward, and if that happens I wouldn't be too surprised. But that outcome rests on the hole card Ainge can't see. He can suspect, but that's all.

Obviously, the hole card is LeBron James. If James is intent on heading to LA or Golden State or anywhere else at the end of next season, Ainge rakes in the chips. Cleveland becomes Boston with a draft pick who I'm going to say right now will not be as good as LeBron. He will also have Irving, who's better than Thomas (not by all that much) and doesn't have a health issue that got him shut down in the Conference Finals. That's Ainge's hole card and the Cavs can't see that either until physicals roll around.

But if LeBron is happy in his home town and doesn't leave, then Ainge has swapped equal parts of his not as good team for those of the better team and then let it have a draft pick which even if it's not an all-time will make it better still. Let's not forget Jae Crowder. Is he great? God no. Is he the kind of player who winds up on title teams? Let's ask Robert Horry.

Don't interpret this post as a knock on Ainge. No big bets, no rings.  But there's no such thing as a worthwhile big bet without an equally large risk