Now in his third decade as a general manager or team president, Danny Ainge is in the next stage of what has been a blessed NBA existence. As a support player on two Celtics championship teams, he was one of the league’s first 3-pointers. specialists, reached the NBA finals with Portland, then Phoenix, losing twice against the Jordan’s Bulls.
As an executive, he builds a Hall-of-Fame CV from the front office. His latest outlet from Kevin McHale brought K.G. and a title in Boston. In 2013, he crossed paths with Nets GM Billy King in half court offloading an aging KD and Paul Pierce in Brooklyn, a deal that prepared Boston for the next two decades. He led the 76ers to sign Markelle Fultz by negotiating in the 2017 draft, earning a second first-round pick., and even still has his man, and the best player in the writes in Jayson Tatum. With Utah, hWe changed the gravity of the market again by removing Rudy Gobert’s trade from the logo lineup, pissing off his peers in the process. Aand now he to the Knicks the front office deals with him like the poor Drew League defender stuck defending LeBron.
NBA2K could put Ainge on the cover if he continues like this. He’s so wrapped up in his bag as an executive, I’m surprised he’s not dating a Kardashian. Ainge has turned Utah into the League Pass offseason team everyone is watching.
Utah Jazz fans haven’t complained about how this offseason has rocked when most fans probably would have. They replaced their menacing bogeyman Quin Snyder with a neophyte coach who looks like Buzz Lightyear. Their hiring of Will Hardy signaled that they were ready to change course. Trade Gobert to Minnesota for a cargo of prime-round picks, pick swaps, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Pat Beverley and Leandro Bolmaro were a clarion call for suitors interested in their only remaining star, Donovan Mitchell.
Whatever on-the-fly rebuild they try this time around, Mitchell is unlikely to involve. Mitchell has left a trail of clues all summer that lead to Miami or New York. Back in June Mitchell and Jimmy Butler kick NBA coach Chris Brickley’s birthday party kicked off the first round of rumors. Dwyane Wade would be charged with tampering by the league for approving Mitchell’s transfer to Miami — if he wasn’t meminority owner in Jazz. Considering Riley’s machiavellian ways, Wade’s mentorship for years on the property of Mitchell and Jazz may just be a clandestine sector of Riley’s player development program.
However, on the trade front, Miami has remained silent. New York stomps on its Timbs, apparently too eager to engage with Ainge for Mitchell. Ainge is set to make New York his personal showcase as Mr.JReggie Miller, and Trae Young have over the years. According to numerous reports, Ainge is putting a double-nickel on the Knicks. Ainge reportedly asked for four players and six first-round peaks. Jhe Knicks refused. But if there’s anything we know about Ainge, it’s that he’s a virtuoso negotiator. He recognizes a desperate adversary when he sees one, and the Knicks smell like a shark’s pal. Even if he gets half of what he asked for, Ainge will limp the Knicks, thinking they’ve gotten a narrow victory.
The Heat was lukewarm. Maybe Pat Riley is weighing his options of an all-out negotiation battle with Ainge or a less trying deal for Kevin Durant. The Knicks are concerned about building a CAA Mid-Stars team led by Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle and possibly Mitchell. Ainge can dangle Mitchell.
Leon Rose and Scott Perry see his moves coming, but Ainge’s misdirection and ball skills are so refined that rival leaders are calling where he’s going to go, but it might as well be Zion Williamson coming down the slope. The Knicks won’t be able to help but bite off Mitchell’s good offer prematurely as if it were a vintage Kobe header fake.
As high as Utah has gone in the past four regular seasons, it quickly reached its peak in the second round of the Western Conference pdismissals. Who knows what Ainge’s picks will pay them in the long run. However, he gets the benefit of the doubt because we’ve seen him do that before in Boston.
By the time he escaped through the Celtics’ back door last summer, the team he left behind was a bunch of TNT waiting for the right spark. Even after Gordon Heyward’s injury and Kyrie Irving’s comments…face after trading Terry Rozier, Ainge’s core overcame the Eastern Conference bump. He drafted Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum, Jaylin Brown, Grant Williams and Robert Williams.
And it’s obvious from his assessment that moving Mitchell is better than trying to salvage a 41-win team from the rubble. Mitchell may not be the best option on a championship team. It is probably more oriented to be a Paul George-caliber talent than Kawhi Leonard. The Jazz weren’t going to lure an All-NBA talent to partner Mitchell in free agency, and a superstar with any leverage would run into free agency unless Utah was a threat in the West. Ainge’s methodology is realistic while creating growing expectations for this reconstruction.
Ainge could just tank for Victor Wembanyama or Scoot Henderson. Wembanyama is Gobert with a more diverse skill set. In a few years, the top prospect of the NBA 2023 The draft can be the ultimate NBA unicorns. Henderson is another potential franchise mainstay available in next year’s draft.
Salt Lake City’s courtside seats will never attract celebrities unless it’s for next year’s All-Star Game, but Ainge has the streets buzzing. The product on the floor could stink in 2022-23, but all is not gloomy. Ainge did for Salt Lake City this watchmen made for Oklahoma and breaking Bad for New Mexico. He puts them back on the map.