Jazz went all-in on Danny Ainge. Will he deliver the goods? | Opinion

With Danny Ainge in price, the Utah Jazz have begun a drastic rebuilding procedure. Ainge, who joined the entrance workplace a yr in the past, has traded away 5 of the crew’s easiest avid gamers — Bojan Bogdanovic, Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, Royce O’Neale, and, early this yr, Joe Ingles — in alternate for a couple of veteran avid gamers and a outstanding selection of draft selections — 11 first-rounders (together with 3 swaps) unfold out over seven years.

It’s a daring plan and one who stakes the Jazz’s long term on something: Ainge. The Jazz have wager the space on the draft, and that implies they’ve wager on Ainge and his skill to guage ability and craft offers.

The change of avid gamers for draft selections is in fact smart should you don’t thoughts providing fanatics a couple of deficient seasons. It is in reality the handiest solution to construct a crew in the smaller Utah marketplace. The Jazz aren’t going to draw celebrity avid gamers thru unfastened company; they will have to get them thru the draft (after which win ASAP ahead of their rookie contracts expire). The Jazz aren’t a vacation spot crew, as we had been reminded by means of Gordon Hayward’s go out after the Jazz had invested years in his construction (Ainge used to be on the different finish of that one, taking him from the Jazz to the Celtics).

This isn’t the first time Ainge has razed a roster and begun a big rebuild. In May 2003, the Celtics employed Ainge as director of basketball operations. Five months later he traded All-Star Antoine Walker and Tony Delk to the Mavericks for 3 avid gamers and a first-round draft select. A month after that, Ainge traded Tony Battie, Kedrick Brown and Eric Williams to the Cavaliers for 3 avid gamers and a second-round draft select. He additionally organized a sophisticated three-team business that landed him some other first-round select.

The Celtics completed 3 of the subsequent 4 seasons with a shedding listing. The nadir used to be Ainge’s fourth yr — in 2006-07 the Celtics completed with a 24-58 listing, the moment worst in Celtics historical past — and Paul Pierce, the crew’s famous person participant, demanded a business in the event that they couldn’t box a extra aggressive crew.

Ainge answered by means of finishing two blockbuster trades for superstars Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen — two long term Hall of Famers — to shape the so-called Big Three (with Pierce). The very subsequent season the Celtics produced the NBA’s easiest listing, 66-16 — a league-record 42-game development in 12 months — and received the NBA championship.

Over the years Ainge persevered to are living as much as his rising popularity as a fearless dealer. In 2013, he traded away the getting old Pierce, Garnett and Jason Terry to the Nets for 5 avid gamers and 3 first-round selections in 2014, 2016 and 2018, plus the proper to change selections in 2015 and 2017. The swaps proved to be golden — the Nets completed with the NBA’s worst listing in 2016-17, giving the Celtics the No. 1 general draft select in 2017.

And then the deal were given even higher. Ainge gambled and traded the No. 1 select to Philadelphia in alternate for the No. 3 general select and a long term first-round draft select. Ainge knew that the 76ers, like maximum everybody else in the league, had been enamored with guards Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball. Ainge had his eye on some other participant, and he knew he may just get him with the 0.33 select, plus some other first-round select in the long term. It used to be of venture — it used to be handiest the moment time in 25 years a crew had dared business away the best select — and he knew the drive used to be on.

“This is certainly a trade that is under the microscope more than others, but we’re not afraid of that,” mentioned Ainge.

The 76ers had been giddy with the deal. “History suggests that No. 1 has the greatest odds of producing franchise-level talent and we are confident that this year’s draft class has that very potential,” mentioned 76ers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo. “(Draft night) will see us take another significant step toward building a successful and sustainable basketball program.”

Not moderately. It grew to become out to be one in all the maximum lopsided trades ever. The Sixers selected Fultz with the first select. An harm restricted him to fourteen video games as a rookie, and he lasted simply two seasons with the Sixers ahead of they traded him. Fultz has performed in simply 26 video games the remaining two seasons. After 5 years in the league he has a scoring moderate of 10.9.

And whom did Ainge draft? Jayson Tatum, a three-time All-Star, an all-NBA first-team select in 2022 and an All-NBA third-team select in 2020. He has averaged 26 issues in line with sport in consecutive seasons.

The Celtics complicated to the NBA Finals remaining season; the Sixers proceed to be annoyed in postseason play, not able to get previous the moment around.

This is why some say that no basic supervisor must solution the telephone if he sees Ainge’s identify on caller ID.

In the summer season of 2017, Ainge organized some other blockbuster deal. He traded All-Star level guard Isaiah Thomas plus two different veterans and a type of first-round selections he had amassed from the Nets in 2013, to the Cavaliers for All-Star guard Kyrie Irving. It used to be some other shrewd transfer. Thomas used to be tough a max deal north of $200 million, however Ainge didn’t wish to jeopardize the crew’s wage cap or his skill to business Thomas if he had to in the long term. As Forbes mag put it, “The Celtics solved their Isaiah Thomas problem in the best way possible: They traded for a younger, bigger and better player in Kyrie Irving to replace Thomas.”

Not all of Ainge’s offers have panned out. The Thomas-for-Irving business produced blended effects. Because of a prior hip harm to Thomas, the Celtics had so as to add a second-round draft option to the deal per week after the business used to be made, and Thomas performed handiest 15 video games that yr. He hasn’t ever been the similar participant and has been out and in of the league. So perhaps Ainge have shyed away from bother there, however he were given bother from the irascible, grumpy Irving, too. 

Jazz forward Ochai Agbaji talks to CEO Danny Ainge during a Utah Jazz practice at the Zions Bank Basketball Campus.

Jazz ahead Ochai Agbaji talks to CEO Danny Ainge all through a Utah Jazz observe at the Zions Bank Basketball Campus in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Irving ignored the remaining 13 video games of his first season in Boston, plus 19 playoff video games, with an harm. He lasted handiest two seasons in Boston. After incomes All-NBA second-team honors the following season, he signed with New Jersey. He had a toxic dating with Boston fanatics.

Some of Ainge’s strikes in his remaining years with the Celtics were criticized and he changed into the scapegoat in some quarters for the crew’s 2020-21 season. But the Celtics did advance to the NBA Finals a yr later, and Ainge’s function in it’s been debated (he drafted 4 of the crew’s starters in the Finals and advisable the hiring of head trainer Brad Stevens).

Now Ainge has put himself on the scorching seat once more along with his unexpected housecleaning of the Jazz. As prior to now said, he will have to draft correctly, and, as the 76ers realized in 2017, the draft could be a crapshoot.

How will Ainge fare with all the ones draft selections? Let’s test his historical past. The following is an inventory of Ainge’s first-round draft selections from 2003 to 2020 (with the quantity in parentheses noting the place the participant used to be selected in the first around and the yr). In instances the place draft alternatives had been instantly traded for some other crew’s draft select(s), handiest the latter are counted towards Ainge’s listing since this is the finish results of his draft technique (famous with # and the draft selection the different crew used to choose the participant).

Excellent selections

Kendrick Perkins (27, 2003) — 14-year occupation, 8 with Boston. Career: 565 begins, 5.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg, one NBA identify. An excellent select that deep into the draft.

Al Jefferson (15, 2004) — 14-year occupation, 3 with Boston, one NBA identify. Career: 15.7 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 2014 All-NBA 0.33 crew.

Tony Allen (25, 2004) — 14-year occupation, six with Boston, six-time NBA all-defensive crew, one NBA identify. Career: 8.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.4 steals. Another superb late-round select.

Rajon Rondo (21#, 2006) — 17-year occupation, 9 with Boston, four-time All-Star, two NBA titles, three-time season assists chief, four-time NBA all-defensive crew, 2012 all-NBA 0.33 crew. Career stats: 9.8 ppg, 7.9 apg.

Avery Bradley (19, 2010) — 15-year occupation, seven with Boston, two-time all-NBA defensive crew. During one five-year stretch, he averaged 14-16 issues in line with season. A super result for a No. 19 select. Career: 11 ppg.

Marcus Smart (6, 2014) — Heading into 9th season with Boston. 2022 NBA Defensive Player of the Year. Three-time NBA all-defensive crew. Career: 10.5 ppg, 4.5 apg.

Terry Rozier (16, 2015) — Started handiest 30 video games in 4 years with Boston — none in his first two years — and didn’t in reality take off till he used to be traded to the Hornets in 2019. Averaged 18, 19 and 20 issues, respectively, the remaining 3 seasons, plus greater than 4 assists. Career: 12.7 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 3.2 apg.

Jaylen Brown (3, 2016) — 2021 NBA All-Star. Career: 16.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2 apg.


Boston Celtics ahead Jayson Tatum all through an NBA preseason basketball sport, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022, in Boston.

Charles Krupa, Associated Press

Jayson Tatum (3, 2017) — Three-time All-Star, 2022 All-NBA first crew, 2020 All-NBA 0.33 crew, Eastern Conference Finals MVP. Career: 21 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 3 apg.

Robert Williams (27, 2018) — Heading into 5th season with Boston. Made 2022 NBA all-defensive crew. Became full-time starter in 2022, averaging 10 issues and 9.6 rebounds. Yet some other superb late-round to find. Career: 7.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg.

Solid selections

Delonte West (24, 2004) — Eight-year occupation, 3 with Boston. A skilled however participant whose habits most definitely shortened his keep in the NBA. Still some other excellent late-round select. Career: 9.7 ppg, 3.6 apg.

Gerald Green (18, 2005) — Played 12 years, however handiest two with Boston, and averaged 10.4 issues in his moment season. He used to be out of the league for 3 years taking part in in a foreign country and in the D League ahead of resuming his occupation in the NBA. He has performed for 9 groups (together with a one-year go back to the Celtics). Anyone who performs 658 video games can’t be thought to be a failed select, however he didn’t lend a hand Boston a lot. Career: 9.7 ppg, 2.5 rpg.


Houston Rockets’ Gerald Green (14) and Marcus Smart (36) stand in place for a free-throw all through sport in Boston, Sunday, March 3, 2019.

Michael Dwyer, Associated Press

Kelly Olynyk (13, 2013) — Averaged 20 mins and 8-10 issues each and every of his 4 seasons in Boston. Spent the remaining six seasons with 3 groups. This offseason he used to be traded to the Jazz, reuniting him with Ainge. Career: 10 ppg.

Grant Williams (22, 2019) — Good bench participant in 3 seasons with Boston. Career: 19.4 min, 5.4 ppg, 3 rpg.

Payton Pritchard (26, 2020) — Another cast late-round select, to this point. Heading into 0.33 season with the Celtics. Career: 16.6 min, 6.9 ppg.


Marcus Banks (13, 2003) — Eight seasons in the NBA, 3 with Boston. Played handiest 47 video games in the remaining 4 years in the league. More is anticipated from the thirteenth select. Career: 5.9 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 2.1 apg.

J.R. Giddens (30, 2008) — Played in 38 video games in two NBA seasons, then in a foreign country and the D League. Career: 1.9 ppg, 1.4 rpg.

JaJuan Johnson (27#, 2011) — Played in 36 video games. Career: 3.2 ppg.

Jared Sullinger (21, 2012) — Played 4 of his 5 NBA seasons in Boston. Signed with Toronto, traded to Phoenix and waived. Plays in a foreign country. Career: 10.8 ppg, 7.5 rpg.

Fab Melo (22, 2012) — NBA occupation consisted of six video games.

James Young (17, 2014) — NBA occupation consisted of a bit of greater than 3 seasons and 95 sport appearances. Career: 8 min., 2.3 ppg.


Boston Celtics guard R.J. Hunter reacts after he made a 3-point basket all through sport in opposition to the Washington Wizards, Tuesday, April 9, 2019, in Washington.

Nick Wass, Associated Press

R.J. Hunter (28, 2015) — NBA occupation totaled 45 video games in 4 seasons. Career: 3 ppg.

Guerschon Yabusele (16, 2016) — Signed with a Chinese crew after taking part in in the NBA Summer League in 2016. Spent two years with the Celtics and has performed in a foreign country in the 3 years since then.

Romeo Langford (14, 2019) — Has made 98 sport appearances in 4 NBA seasons. Traded to Spurs remaining season. Career: 14.5 min, 3.6 ppg, 1.9 rpg.

Aaron Nesmith (14, 2020) — Played two seasons for Boston. Traded to Pacers this summer season. Career: 12.7 min., 4.2 ppg., 2.2 rpg.

That provides as much as 11 hits, 10 misses and 5 “solid” first-round selections for Ainge. The Jazz have wager the entirety that he can to find a couple of Marcus Smarts and Jayson Tatums for his new crew.


Utah Jazz basic supervisor Justin Zanik and Jazz CEO Danny Ainge giggle all through a press convention at the Zions Bank Basketball Campus in Salt Lake City on Monday, Sept. 12, 2022.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Leave a Comment