Less than a month away from this season's trade deadline, we're already getting little signals about Danny's plans moving forward. He's already traded away Jordan Crawford, Courtney Lee, and MarShon Brooks and yesterday, he mentioned offering an extension to Rajon Rondo that would cement him as a cornerstone for the franchise. Boston has some nice young pieces in Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, and Vitor Faverani and affordable vets in Jeff Green, Gerald Wallace, Jerryd Bayless, and Brandon Bass, but the biggest curiosity among Celtics fans surrounds the plethora of draft picks Ainge has amassed for the next five years. It's enough to warrant an episode of Hoarders, but he's more investment banker than out of control collector. The man has a plan:
"I've always believed that you build through the draft," he said. "And whether those drafted players are Al Jefferson, who you love, and Delonte West, who we developed and loved, and then move them for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen - or whether those draft picks turn into Rajon Rondo or Paul Pierce and they're with you forever.
"So the draft is really important, and now we have a lot of assets. Draft picks are always tradable. Sometimes players aren't always tradable, once they expose themselves on the court. Draft picks almost always are tradable. But development is really important for us, and I'm happy with the development of Kelly Olynyk and Phil Pressey and Jared Sullinger and Vitor (Faverani). Vitor has been a little inconsistent, which you'd expect with inconsistent minutes and a guy coming from playing European ball his whole life. It's a whole different life."
Seems simple enough. Odds are, Danny won't use all the picks. There's only so much playing time even for a rebuilding team and we've seen teams like OKC having to trade away players that they've development and have even blossomed (James Harden) because of the limitations of the salary cap. Generally, GM math is simple. If you draft smart, you can have a bright young player under a rookie contract for 4-5 years. However, if you have the opportunity to trade for a franchise player (Garnett in 2007), you'll probably have to give up a promising stud plus an expiring deal plus the sweetener of a first rounder to get him. Thankfully, Ainge has all these weapons available. We can lament the contracts of Wallace and Bass (and to some extent, Green and Anthony), but they'll be useful later if the team needs to make the numbers work on a blockbuster.