A lot has been made about players not wanting to come to Boston in recent years. A lot of it has to do with the fact that in his 18 seasons as Boston GM, Danny Ainge has made 63 trades. The Celtics are brutal when it comes to reshuffling their roster, and some perceive it as a lack of loyalty.
In a story on Celtics Blog, Keith Smith talked to opposing front office people to find out how they feel about Ainge, and the overall conclusion is - a lot of respect. Some think Ainge sometimes pushes for small additions, such as pick protections and extra second-round picks, too often. But the most revealing moment in the piece for me was this.
“First, you have to understand that we talk trades every single day. Someone is texting someone with a question like ‘How do you guys feel about…?’ or sometimes it’s a more straight-forward ‘Are you willing to move…?’ almost all day, every day.”
An Eastern Conference Assistant GM, Celtics Blog
Not a single person interviewed, and Smith talked to 16 people, said Ainge calls or deals more than anyone else. The perception the Celtics are heartless and treat players like assets and not people more than others is false. Ainge and his first officer Mike Zarin are just good at what they do, so there's a track record there. Almost everyone said the same thing - the Celtics don't fu** around.
They are honest, to the point, and drive a hard bargain. Sometimes it's frustrating, but everyone respects them. The Celtics get that reputation because compared to other front offices, they get a lot of trades done. That's because they are short and to the point, so they get a lot of calls.
“I’m not exaggerating to say that maybe 1% of the trades we talk actually happen. And I mean trades that are real, not just asking about someone. Trades that are actually legal and could be done.”
A Western Conference Assistant GM, Celtics Blog
Everyone calls and texts about almost anyone; it's not just the Celtics. The difference is, Ainge won most of the important trades, so he got to keep his job for 18 years and build a track record. Front offices truly are paranoid when Ainge calls about something, and it leads to funny situations.
“I hate talking trades with Danny because I feel like I’m gonna lose on something. One time, he called me about a guy who wasn’t in our rotation. This guy had played like five games in two months. I immediately panicked and called my team and our scouts and asked them ‘What are we missing? Why does Boston want him?’. That’s the sort of stuff you second-guess when talking trades with Danny.”
An Eastern Conference GM, Celtics Blog
The fact Ainge has that reputation, and despite everyone making the joke you should just not pick up when he calls, he still gets trades done says a lot about doing business with the Celtics. From a players' perspective, being in Boston means you are more likely to get traded than in most places.
I get that would be scary for your mid-range players. But if you're a star, don't you want a front office that can get trades done and shuffle the roster around you until they find the right fit?