Danny Ainge: The perfect example of a bad GM

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You don’t trade away a Larry Bird. I’m sorry but that’s just ludicrous. You don’t trade Larry Legend under any circumstances just like you would never trade a Michael Jordan, a Tim Duncan or a Magic Johnson.

Danny Ainge’s statement that he would have traded Larry Bird shows us why Red Auerbach was so much more successful over his career as general manager of the Boston Celtics than Ainge has been. Teams that fall off when their stars get old are teams run by executives that are devoid of vision.

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A player’s career only lasts for so long. A superstar like Jordan or Bird can probably carry a team for a little over ten years. During that time you should be trying to bring in talent that will carry the team once that superstar calls it quits.

Sure there are some superstars that you can trade but players that consistently give you championships, don’t miss games, represent your organization in an exemplary fashion and play their whole careers in your city should have the complete loyalty of the organizations they play for. Besides, winning games doesn’t just fall on the backs of the players; the organization has to be dedicated to winning.

Management and the coaches have to show not only a desire to fit talent around their star player when he is in his prime but to develop or find talent they can transition to when their superstar starts to decline.

Ainge cited the long period of losing that came after Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parrish retired but there are plenty of teams that have been able to play at a high level even after the retirement of their stars. An example would be how the Los Angeles Lakers survived after the sudden retirement of Magic Johnson.

It’s been 20 years since Magic announced that he was retiring from the NBA due to his contacting the HIV virus. You know how many times the Los Angeles Lakers have missed the playoffs since then? Three times and they have never missed the playoffs in back-to-back years.

That only happens when you have an organization that is not satisfied with the status quo; that’s not satisfied with just making a strong showing in the playoffs. Even after winning a championship, a team should not rest on its laurels but should work to come back even better the next season.

You do have to give Ainge credit for bringing the big three of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett together though. That group was able to win a championship and made it to the NBA Finals in back-to-back appearances. The problem is that all three were already pretty old by NBA standards when they were brought together.

Which means that Ainge should have already been looking for their replacements when he brought them in. Signing veterans like Jermaine O’Neal, Rasheed Wallace and Shaquille O’Neal to play alongside an already aged core shows that Ainge was more focused on the short term rather than the long term health of the franchise. Signing those players also took roster spots and minutes from younger players who the Celtics could have been grooming to take over.

And now that the roster is depleted Ainge wants to trade the big three. No member of Boston’s big three would ever be placed in the same air as Bird, Magic or Jordan so I can’t say that trading either one of them to improve the team would be a bad thing. It would have been nice if he would have traded them when they had more value though. At this point in their careers he won’t get anything for either one of them.

But of course Ainge is not going to be as forthcoming and candid about his own failings as a general manager. It’s easy to look back in hindsight and second guess a great like Red Auerbach after watching what happened to the franchise when Bird retired. Too bad Ainge hasn’t shown the foresight to make this team better in the future.

Roosevelt Hall is an NBA Featured Journalist for The Sports Blitz

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