Thursday, August 05, 2010

Ainge Goes Against Instincts to Build Celtics

Danny Ainge was a key member of the Celtics the last time the team was trying to balance their hopes of winning a championship against a roster of aging stars.

At one point in the 1988 season, Ainge instructed Red Auerbach to trade all of the Celtics superstars who were on the wrong side of 30. That included Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson, and Ainge.

Auerbach refused to part with Bird, McHale, Parish, or Johnson but he did move Ainge. By allowing his team to get old without reinforcing the roster with young talent, the Celtics lost their grip on the Eastern Conference to the Pistons and Bulls.

As the man currently in charge of making roster decisions for the Celtics, it is interesting that Ainge has not taken his own advice. When presented with the opportunity to begin a long rebuilding process this summer when Paul Pierce and Ray Allen (two of his best players) became free agents, Ainge instead made the commitment to staying the course with his aging team and added depth with additional aging stars.

Ainge added 38-year-old Shaquille O'Neal and 32-year-old Jermain O'Neal, who bring a combined 31 years of experience to the Celtics, to a team built on a foundation of Kevin Garnett (age 34), Pierce (33), and Allen (35).

There is some young blood on the team that will take pressure of the AARP crowd. Point guard Rajon Rondo is just 24-years-old and he is joined in the rotation by Glen Davis (24), Nate Robinson (26), Kendrick Perkins (26), and Von Wafer (25). The roster will be rounded out by promising rookies Avery Bradley (20), Luke Harangody (22), and Semih Erden (24).

That group of young players is probably the way that Ainge justified his decision to keep Pierce and Allen in Boston while adding the O'Neals. The Celtics are built to be a force in the playoffs and the experience of contending for a championship will hasten the development of the younger players.

Ainge has given Doc Rivers a team long on experience that should win between 50-60 regular season games and in the end should be celebrating and holding the Larry O'Brien trophy on the Garden floor. The young legs will get them through the October-April stretch and then the future Hall of Fame inductees will take over in May and June.

Let's be happy that Ainge the general manager did not listen to the advice of Danny Ainge the player.

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