We may now have greater insight into why Danny Ainge departed from the Celtics.
Players didn’t trust him.
Buried inside Bleacher Report’s story about Kemba Walker’s desire to leave Boston is an anecdote about how players viewed Ainge, who served as Celtics general manager for 18 years. Walker was blindsided when the Celtics tried to shop him last offseason, reports Farbod Esnaashari, causing the point guard’s relationship with Ainge to sour.
“One executive in the NBA said Walker isn't the only player to have those negative feelings toward Ainge, as players around the league have not trusted Celtics management during the Ainge era,” Esnaashari writes.
Memorably, Anthony Davis’ father called out Ainge two years ago for trading Isaiah Thomas after his hip surgery. Perhaps Mr. Davis was speaking for more people than himself.
Ainge gained the reputation as a wheeler-and-dealer, largely thanks to the championship-winning coup of acquiring Kevin Garnett. Acquiring Kyrie Irving for Thomas cemented Ainge’s unpredictable image.
Still, the perception around Ainge often superseded the reality. The Celtics didn’t make a deadline deal for five years.
But facts and nuance seldom get in the way of a good rumor. One week later, there still seems like there’s more to story about Ainge’s exit.
He says he wants to step down and spend more time with his family, bcuriously, left his future plans vague. Ainge didn’t deny he would be interested in working in an NBA front office again.
It’s apparent the Celtics’ players didn’t feel a kinship with the organization, given none of them pushed back against Kyrie Irving. After Game 5, it was all love.
Marcus Smart, meanwhile, is the only member of the Celtics who publicly showed love to Ainge on his way out the door.
Brad Stevens may not only have to try and reshape the roster. The organization’s reputation may need an overhaul, too.