There have been rumors that Chris Paul doesn't want to play in Boston, worried that the Celtics are "old" on the verge of collapse. However, there's one thing that separates Boston from a lot of other franchises in our situation: Danny Ainge.
Now, Danny isn't infallible. He's going to make outright mistakes at times, and other times he'll make sound decisions that don't work out. However, on balance, Danny is an excellent GM who isn't afraid to pull the trigger on deals if it means getting his team into contention. Fortune favors the bold, and Danny Ainge, if nothing else, isn't afraid of being bold.
The off-season of 2007, of course, is the best example. People forget, but the decision to try to build a championship contender wasn't a clear cut one. Danny had two choices: try to cash in young players to build around the team's existing superstar, or go into a full-fledged rebuilding movement. Danny, of course, chose to surround Paul Pierce with aging but elite talent, and the next season the Celtics were hanging a banner. However, many fans were upset by the decision; a lot of fans and pundits wanted to build around a core of Al Jefferson, Gerald Green, and the #5 pick in the draft. While it's easy to think that any franchise could have pulled off what Danny did if they had our assets, that's not the case. For instance, that season the Warriors were engaged in KG discussions, but wouldn't part with their young talent: Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins. Ask Warriors fans how that worked out. Or better, ask the team's existing superstar -- Baron Davis -- how that trade worked out. The Warriors had a moment of opportunity, and they blinked. Danny didn't.
This off-season, you're seeing history repeat itself. While the Warriors and Clippers (among other franchises) are hesitant to make big deals because they're paralyzed by the fear of dealing young talent (Stephen Curry, Eric Gordon), Danny is aggressively doing everything he possibly can to position the Celtics for both another title and a bright future. Let's recap where we were at the start of free agency: the team was coming off a second round playoff exit, the core was getting older, and a number of key pieces were up for free agency. The team found itself handicapped by only having the new "mini mid level exception" to use on a free agent. For a lot of pundits -- myself included -- the prospects for this season weren't promising. Fans lamented the ability of the team to field a competitive squad, as many eyes turned toward next year and the tens of millions of dollars in cap space we'll have.
Once again, though, Danny didn't settle for conventional wisdom. To date, he's creatively done what many didn't think possible: he's upgraded the team, while preserving our cap space. He's added Brandon Bass, Chris Wilcox, and Keyon Dooling, and he got Jeff Green to re-up on a one year deal. He's addressed a lot of the team's deficiencies, adding athleticism, hustle, and talent. It's been a strong off-season, but these deals only show a GM with a good eye for talent. What sets Danny apart is, again, his boldness. There are, of course, the CP3 discussions, where Danny has shown that he's unafraid to move a young star in a risky move to potentially upgrade the team. Even moreso, though, it's the potential David West bombshell. Danny has creatively attempted to enhance the team, targeting a player that nobody had any right to think the Celtics could add. While we still don't know how that will turn out, the fact that Danny has wedged his way into the discussion is a credit to his GMing prowess.
If I'm Chris Paul and I'm deciding where I want to spend my future, I'm spending a great deal of time looking at the management structure of the team I'm joining. Do I want to be on a team, like the Clippers or the Warriors, that has shown itself to be incompetent year after year? Or instead, do I want to be on the team that has proven, on multiple occasions, that it will do whatever possible to upgrade? If I'm Chris Paul, I'm choosing the latter. While some other teams might have younger rosters that seemingly have brighter futures, very few of those franchises have excellent GMs who are going to take full advantage of the assets at their disposal.
Seriously, Chris, keep it in mind.