By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — As Celtics fans know throughout his nearly 20 years as Boston’s president of basketball ops., Danny Ainge would trade anyone. Anyone.READ MORE: CVS Lists Teachers As Eligible For COVID Vaccine Appointments In Massachusetts
He’s made it clear that if he were in charge back in the ’90s, he would have traded an aging Larry Bird and Kevin McHale. He traded Isaiah Thomas after the guard put his career on the line for the Celtics, not to mention after IT played in the immediate aftermath of his younger sister’s death.
Ainge does not let emotions get in the way of a good trade, and he isn’t afraid to deal away anyone. Or discuss dealing away anyone, for that matter. Even if that player may be a tad bit dinged up.
That is angering some opposing general managers, according to Ric Bucher. The NBA insider appeared on Colin Cowherd’s podcast on Monday, and said that a lot of general managers around the league are upset at Ainge over his attempts to deal an injured Kemba Walker over the offseason.
“A lot of GMs are ticked off at Danny because Danny tried like hell to move Kemba at the beginning of the year, knowing that his knee wasn’t right. He was trying to get rid of damaged goods,” said Bucher. “And that’s the issue that Kemba is dealing with, and at his size, it’s a little bit like Isaiah Thomas. This is the second little point guard in a row he’s run into that has a physical issue and it changes everything. In the regular season, you can kind of get away with it and disguise it, but when you play the best teams, they’re going to exploit that he’s undersized and can’t move the same way that he once could.”READ MORE: Watch Live @ 9 AM: Baker Announcement On COVID Vaccinations In Massachusetts
These other GMs apparently forget about Ainge trading away IT, who was shelved due to a bad hip when he was sent to Cleveland as part of the Kyrie Irving trade. The Cavaliers raised a stink about Thomas’ health after the deal was agreed upon, and got an extra second-round pick out of the transaction.
Ainge was reportedly looking to deal away Walker this offseason in an effort to clear room for a potential Jrue Holliday trade. But Holliday ended up in Milwaukee, and the Celtics were left with the hobbled Walker.
Kemba made his season debut on Jan. 17 and has eased his way back into the lineup, averaging 17 points off a career-worst 37 percent shooting. His game has been extremely up and down since his return, and he will not be playing both ends of back-to-backs this season. It’s created a bit of a juggling act for Brad Stevens and the Celtics.
That the Celtics were looking to shed Walker and his max contract last offseason — just one year after giving the point guard that max pact — isn’t too surprising given the Ainge factor. Nor is opposing GMs being upset about that, since they tend to get upset about anything Ainge does or tries to do. But are we really expected to believe that these other GMs had no idea that Walker was injured? The same Walker who barely made it through last postseason and Boston’s opposition made a point in targeting when he was on the floor?
There are a handful of other teams that seem OK with Ainge’s methods. He gave the Hornets a big assist after prying Walker away two summers ago, working out a sign-and-trade that sent Terry Rozier to Charlotte. The Hornets in turn helped Ainge out this offseason by sending a massive Traded Player Exception to Boston after Gordon Hayward signed with Charlotte.MORE NEWS: Boston May Transition Away From Fenway Park As Mass COVID Vaccination Site
We’ll see if these angry GMs hold Ainge’s attempts to trade Walker against him as he tries to add an impact player ahead of the March 25 trade deadline.