Danny took his share of abuse for the Celtics fortunes over his first 3 years on the job. When he became the Celtics GM he said that he had a 5 year plan to rebuild the Celtics and get them back to contention. His plan was to gather "chips" and then trade them for established stars. Many fans were disillusioned with the "youth movement" and felt that the Celtics were years away from contending, if ever. But what most of us forgot was Danny's initial vision of gathering trading chips. Some of his moves were lateral but others were trading one chip for another just slightly more valuable financially or on the court or that would give us a draft pick he could parlay into a player or use as a chip. Here is a look at Danny's road to building the team that won Banner 17.
Danny traded Darius Songaila to Sacramento and received 2 second round pics in return. These picks were used to draft Brandon Hunter in 2003 and Orien Greene in 2005. This move didn't really amount to much as Hunter was taken in the expansion draft and Greene was placed on waivers so it was more or less a dead end move.
In Danny's first draft, he picked Troy Bell at #16 and Dahntay Jones at #20. He then traded these two players for Marcus Banks, who was picked 13th and Kendrick Perkins, who was picked 27th. Obviously, Banks was a mistake because he didn't work out in Boston and bounced around the league, never quite showing any sign of realizing his potential. Perk, on the other hand, became one of the top defensive centers in the NBA and was a starter on the team that won Banner 17. Perk's interior defense was key to controlling the Lakers' inside attack and limiting their effectiveness inside.
In 2003, Danny signed Mike James as a free agent to a one year contact worth $640,000. James averaged 10.7 points and 4.4 assists while he was with the Celtics.
Danny traded J.R. Bremer, who had been with the Celtics for 2 seasons, and Bruno Sundov, who had played 23 games with the Celtics, to Cavs for Jumaine Jones and a second round pick. This pick was later traded back to the Cavs as part of the Ricky Davis deal and was used to take Ryan Gomes. Jones was injured and only played in 42 games for the Celtics in the 2003-04 season.
Before the 2003-04 season, Danny made the biggest move of his tenure to that time when he traded Antoine Walker and Tony Delk to the Mavericks for Raef LaFrentz, Jiri Welsch, Chris Mills and a first round pick that Danny would use to take Delonte West. Raef's knees gave out and he played in only 17 games that season before having knee surgery but he would go on to be the only Celtic who played in all 82 games the next season. Jiri Welsh didn't work out as Danny had hoped and would later be traded for a draft pick which Danny would trade to Phoenix for Rajon Rondo.
In the middle of the 2003-04 season Danny once again made a major trade when he sent Tony Battie, Eric Williams and Kedrick Brown to the Cavs for Ricky Davis, Chris Mihm, Michael Stewart, and that second round pick that I mentioned earlier. Ricky played some solid basketball for the Celtics and although there were rumors that he caused some problems in the locker room, he always played all out, giving 110% out on the court. Also in the 2003-04 season, Danny traded Chris Mills and Mike James to Detroit for Chucky Atkins and a first round pick that would be used to draft Tony Allen. Chucky was a key to the Celtics making the playoffs that season.
After the 2003-04 season, Danny traded Chucky Atkins, Chris Mihm, and Jumaine Jones for Gary Payton, Rick Fox (who chose to retire rather than play that season with the Celtics), a first round pick and cash considerations. Payton at first didn't want to come to the Celtics, but when he finally reported, he gave the Celtics a very good year and helped to mentor the team's young point guards.
Mark Blount had a great season in his contract year and at the end of the season, Danny signed him to a six year deal at over 6 million a year. At the time, this looked like a good deal because Blount had a great season previous to the signing and looked like he was going to continue to be a very good offensively minded center. No one could envision the cancerous malcontent that Blount would become. This was one of Danny's missteps in the plan.
In the 2004 draft, Danny hit the jackpot when he picked Al Jefferson with the 15th pick, Delonte West with the 24th pick and Tony Allen with the 25th pick along with Justin Reed in the second round. Delonte was key in bringing Ray Allen to Boston and Al Jefferson was the key to the Garnett trade. Tony Allen was a crucial player in bringing Banner 17 to Boston. He chose to leave and sign with Memphis in order to get more minutes and become a starter, which he knew wouldn't happen in Boston.
During the 2004-05 season, Danny traded Walter McCarty to Phoenix for a second round pick. This pick would later be traded to Denver for the rights to Leon Powe who also was key during the Championship run. Leon's 21 points in game 2 of the Finals were crucial to getting that win. Leon suffered an ACL tear and a meniscus tear in his left knee during Game 2 against the Chicago Bulls in the First Round of the 2009 NBA Playoffs. Danny failed to re-sign him after the season. Most fans were disappointed because Leon gave his all to the Celtics and most felt he deserved better than just to be cut because he was injured.
During the 2004-05 season, Danny traded Gary Payton, Tom Gugliotta, Michael Stewart, and a first round pick to bring Antoine Walker back to Boston for a second run. In an ironic twist, this pick was traded by Atlanta to Phoenix and would be used to take Rondo for whom we would trade the Cleveland pick. Payton was waived by Atlanta and resigned with Boston and the Celtics made the playoffs but the Celtics didn't make it out of the first round.
At the end of that season, Walker was looking for a long term contract that Boston didn't want to give him so they arranged a sign and trade with Miami that brought back a trade exception, a 2006 second round draft pick, a future second round draft pick, cash considerations, forward Qyntel Woods, the draft rights to Albert Miralles and center Curtis Borchardt. Danny waived Woods and Borchardt, Miralles is still in Spain somewhere and will probably stay there and he used the trade exception to sign free agent Dan Dickau
In the 2005 draft, Danny picked Gerald Green with the 18th pick and nabbed Ryan Gomes with the 50th pick along with Orien Greene at 51. Ryan Gomes played very well for the Celtics and was a great pick at 50. Gerald didn't develop as expected. His work ethic was questionable and although he won the Dunk Contest and was a very good offensive player, he couldn't seem to get the defense. He was another key to bringing Kevin Garnett to Boston. He played in Russia and in the D-League and was picked up last season by the Nets. He finally seems to be realizing his potential and in the offseason was given a 3 year contract by the Pacers.
Before the 2005-06 season, Danny signed Brian Scalabrine to a 5 year 15 million dollar contract. Scal was never an impact player, but he was a great locker room guy and played hard whenever he got minutes. He also drove Tony Allen to the hospital after his knee injury. Scal was a knowledgeable player and often helped to work with the younger players in practice. After Scal's tenure in Boston was up, Tom Thibodeau signed him to be a veteran presence and help to work with the younger players in Chicago.
During the 2005-06 season, Danny pulled off his first blockbuster trade with Minnesota. Danny traded Ricky Davis, Mark Blount, Marcus Banks, Justin Reed and two second round draft picks for Wally Szczerbiak, Michael Olowokandi, Dwayne Jones, and a conditional first round pick (which returned to Minny in the Garnett trade). The biggest bonus in this trade was getting rid of Blount who had become a cancer and a malcontent on this team. Blount went on to do the same in Minnesota and just kind of went away, as all malcontents should do.
On draft night in 2006, Danny traded Raef LaFrentz, Dan Dickau, and the 7th pick in the draft for Theo Ratliff and Sebastian Telfair. This may have been the key to the trade for Garnett because without Ratliff's expiring contract, the Wolves may not have gone for the trade. Danny gave up the opportunity to draft Brandon Roy, who was the rookie of the year, but financially, this was a very good move for the Celtics and in the end was a brilliant move in that it netted us Garnett. Also, Brandon was plagued with knee problems and retired in 2011 because of it. He signed with the Wolves this season to try to make a comeback.
In the offseason, Danny traded Dwayne Jones for Luke Jackson and cash considerations. Jackson was waived after training camp but the Celtics did make a little money on the deal. Danny also got the deal done to re-sign Paul Pierce to a three-year extension at max money and signed Perk to an extension at approximately 4 million per year, which is an absolute bargain considering what bigs in the league were demanding at the time.
On draft night in 2007, the Celtics had the 5th pick, the highest they had picked since 1997 when they lost out on Duncan. Everyone in the Celtics nation was hoping for the first or second pick with Kevin Durant and Greg Oden on the board, and when the lottery balls bounced the wrong way, fans were prepared for several more years of mediocrity while the young players grew and learned and blossomed. But Danny decided it was time to trade in his chips and first, he traded Delonte West, Wally Szczerbiak and the #5 pick for Ray Allen and the draft pick that he used to pick Big Baby Davis. This move was crucial, because it was the key to getting Garnett to agree to come to Boston.
The biggest move came when Danny used most of his other "chips" to trade for Kevin Garnett. He had been trying to get Garnett for a couple of years and finally had enough chips that Minnesota GM Kevin McHale (and Celtic at heart) wanted to get the deal done. With those 2 moves, the Celtics went from the second to last team in the league to a contender overnight. He then proceeded to sign quality veterans like PJ Brown, James Posey, and Eddie House to fill in the bench. The result was Banner 17 being raised to the rafters. Danny was in his 5th season as GM and had worked his plan to perfection.
One other move that has to be discussed is Danny's decision to hire Doc Rivers as his coach. In Doc's first couple of years, he took a lot of criticism from the Celtics' faithful. There were many calls to fire both Doc and Danny. But Wyc had faith in Danny and Danny had faith in Doc. Now, approaching his 9th season as coach of the Celtics, he has been hailed as one of the best coaches in the league and is one of the top candidates for coach of the 2016 Olympic team. Danny's faith in Doc was well founded and it took courage to stick with him when fans were calling for his head.
Danny came to the job as GM of the Celtics with a five year plan. He worked that play to perfection and in his fifth season at the helm, the Celtics won the championship that he promised when he began the job. It has been 4 years since that magical championship season. If not for injuries, the Celtics may have won a couple more titles in those years. Much has happened since that title and Danny has been at work trying to keep the team competitive through those years. The Celtics are once again loaded for another run for the championship. Other GM's made flashy moves, bringing in big stars, but Danny worked to keep chemistry intact and to build a deep team, rather than one with a starry starting line and a weak bench. Hopefully his plan will work once again.
Yes, I do think Danny's a good GM. I think if there's a deal to be made between now and the deadline, he'll make it. That Courtney Lee deal proves that. I want to see how the guys we have play first, though. We could be surprised by some of them. (both good and bad)
Sorry cus I couldn't provide a link, but I heard the decision to resign Blount was called more by the owners. Not Ainge. And the missed on brandon roy and rudy gay could be fairly replaced by the rondo move. Great job Sir. But couldn't we try to sign another athletic big such as javale mc gee? I like jason collins, but I'd prefer a younger shotblocker 7 footer that would EAT the rim if his man trying to double up on KG.
I hadn't heard that it was owners rather than Ainge behind the Blount re-signing. Thanks for the info.
I agree that I'd like to see another athletic big signed. Maybe Danny knows of one that may be available closer to the season or the trade deadline and is holding out. But I'd like to see another big as well.