Danny Ainge has spent years accumulating and hoarding assets as the Boston Celtics’ president of basketball operations, seemingly with an eye toward striking while the iron’s hot.
Is it possible he undid all of his hard work and patience with one off-hand comment?
Ainge already struck once, acquiring Kyrie Irving from the Cleveland Cavaliers in the summer of 2017 after the All-Star point guard requested a trade. Anthony Davis long has been considered Boston’s next big target amid the New Orleans Pelicans’ inability to build a contender around the 2012 No. 1 overall pick, but some folks, including FS1’s Nick Wright, wondered Monday whether Ainge shot himself in the foot earlier this month by comparing LeBron James to President Donald Trump.
“His career’s not over,” Ainge said of James, who recently called himself the greatest of all-time. “I’d just like to … why he’s saying that, I don’t know. Maybe he thinks that that sells. Maybe he’s taking the Donald Trump approach and trying to sell himself. I don’t know. Obviously LeBron is in every conversation with who is the greatest player of all-time. But time will tell. I don’t know if anyone knows who the greatest of all-time is, because the years are so different.”
You see, Davis, like James, is represented by Rich Paul of the Klutch Sports Group. If James took a dim view of Ainge’s comparison, it’s fair to ask whether the comment had a trickle-down effect, making its way to Paul and ultimately impacting Davis’ NBA future by steering him away from Boston.
The Los Angeles Lakers, led by James, reportedly are eyeing a trade for Davis, and the Celtics are viewed as their biggest competition thanks to the enticing package Boston can offer New Orleans. Paul recently informed the Pelicans that Davis won’t sign a contract extension and wants to be traded, though, and this midseason development might be the New Orleans star’s attempt to force his way to Los Angeles — since Boston can’t trade for Davis until this summer, per NBA rules (explained here).
If Davis wanted to land in Boston, rather than LA, he could’ve waited until the offseason to make his trade demand. By making the demand now, when the Celtics can’t be serious players in the Davis sweepstakes in the lead up to the Feb. 7 NBA trade deadline, it’s quite clear that Boston isn’t a priority. And so the question becomes: Is this in any way related to Ainge’s LeBron-Trump comment?
Probably not. After all, Ainge’s comment was rather casual, albeit careless, and addressed James’ approach to making a bold claim regarding his legacy. It wasn’t exactly a scathing jab at James’ character. Plus, one could argue Davis began laying the groundwork for joining the Lakers way back in September — well before Ainge’s comment — by signing with the group that represents James.
But hey, it’s an interesting theory. And it sure would be a gut punch to the Celtics if Ainge’s master plan crumbled to the ground and Davis took his talents to Hollywood, all because of a momentary lapse in judgment in an otherwise spectacular tenure in Boston’s front office.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images