Danny Ainge's Celtics/Nets trade could rival Red Auerbach's maneuverings

Red Auerbach was a wheeler-dealer extraordinaire. But his protege, Danny Ainge, made one bold move that may end up rivaling Red's dealings. If the Jay Team of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum (both products of Ainge's deal with the Nets) continue to improve, the acquisitions of Bill Russell, JoJo White, Larry Bird, Dennis Johnson, Kevin McHale, Danny Ainge and Robert Parish may soon have competition.


Admittedly, Red's maneuvering to draft Russell in 1956 was brave and masterful. Eleven Championships later, the deal of Ed Macauley, Cliff Hagan and the Ice Capades for Russ looks borderline-brilliant. How about JoJo? Auerbach took him with the 9th pick in the 1969 NBA draft as other NBA GM's passed because of White's 2-year military commitment. Red somehow got that stint shortened, and that is a story in itself. JoJo helped bring two more Titles to Boston.


Auerbach drafted Bird as a junior-eligible out of Indiana State. Fans got to see Larry's final college season, knowing that he was coming to Boston. Red was smart as a whip and sly. Larry was not viewed as a "sure thing" at the NBA level, but he turned out to be one of the most-skilled players ever to take to the hardwood. Red knew the rules of the NBA draft and went after Larry before everyone else thought of it.


DJ, Kevin and Robert came to the Celtics with more wheeling and dealing by Auerbach. Danny Ainge, who became the fifth starter in that group, lasted until the second round in the 1981 draft, when he was taken by Boston. The concern was that Ainge had plans to continue his baseball career, but Red took a shot, and it paid off.

No one yet knows the ceiling of Brown and Tatum because they haven't reached it yet. They are in their fourth and third years, respectively, but they have rocketed into stardom this season. Ironically, Danny went against his mentor's mode of operation. Red shied away from trading his veterans as their skills deteriorated, but Ainge went right ahead and sent Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets. There was some luck involved, as the picks turned out better than anticipated, and both Jay Team members were taken with the 3rd overall picks in the respective drafts. Both players seemed locked into long-term stints with Boston - and hopefully that will yield one or more Titles. Looks like a bright future.

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