Kevin McHale, who knows Celtics boss Danny Ainge better than just about anyone on this planet, has said in recent years that Ainge’s patience at roster building has been the key to his success.
“Danny is doing it the right way,” McHale told NBC Sports Boston in 2016. “He’s not panicking … which is the opposite of the guy I know. Danny is one of the most impulsive people I know and I’m shocked he doesn’t make a trade every week. He is a disciplined general manager, which is funny because he is a very undisciplined person.”
Despite sheer chaos last off-season, in trading away Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley and acquiring Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward – among others – expect Ainge to stand pat with this current group for this coming season at least.
A trade for rental superstar Kawhi Leonard is not happening. It didn’t seem likely two weeks ago, and it certainly doesn’t seem likely now that Golden State landed DeMarcus Cousins in free agency.
In addition to being patient, Ainge is a realist. He knows that the Warriors would have been tough to beat in a potential NBA Finals matchup even if they didn’t add the second or third best free agent on the market.
Kyrie Celtics NBA Anthony Davis
The Celtics, who I fully expect to win the East in 2018-19, will take their best shot at Kevin Durant and Co. in the Finals. They might even be able to steal a game or two based on Brad Stevens’ success against the Dubs in recent years.
But we are talking about trying to take down the greatest roster ever assembled, here. We are talking about taking down the 96 Bulls or the 86 Celtics.
The 2018-19 Celtics will have an outstanding roster, but I don’t think it will be one of the best ever assembled. They’re just not on THAT level.
So, expect Ainge to take a Patriots approach to this thing moving forward. Be in title contention every single year. Some years you will break through and win it all. Some years you will not. Just keep taking your shots for the next decade.
Even if this nightmare scenario of Kyrie Irving leaving in free agency next summer happens, the Celtics will be set up perfectly to simply insert a different superstar-level player immediately either via free agency or trade. You can bet there will be plenty of superstar-level talents banging at the door to join the best team in the Eastern Conference – a team that features rising stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Perhaps even the biggest fish of all – Anthony Davis – becomes available in the next few years.
Now is the time for Patient Danny. And it’s the Danny I think we’re going to get.