Danny Ainge made attempts to recover from another difficult offseason where the Celtics lost a key contributor in Gordon Hayward and entered the season with a roster exception to replace him. The team eventually added Evan Fournier, a good fit whose entrance got derailed by COVID, then replaced a struggling Moe Wagner with Jabari Parker in hope of a resurgence.
Those moves may pay dividends next year, but neither came close to saving the Celtics this season and in some ways exacerbated the groups demise once Robert Williams III ran into injuries following Daniel Theis’ departure. Boston’s young depth couldn’t step up and the season appears headed for a prompt finish next week.
Gary Washburn took aim at Danny Ainge and Boston’s front office while most look to Brad Stevens following a disappointing regular season that landed the Celtics in in the play-in tournament. Washburn joined Celtics Beat Podcast on CLNS Media to advocate to shake up Boston’s coaching and front office staffs.
“I’m not part of the fire Brad contingent, because I think he’s bringing knives to a gun fight ... (but) the Celtics have to start changing their philosophy,” Washburn said. “They have to pad their roster with veterans, they have to get rid of guys they cannot use ... Danny has to add some people to his staff, no more Austin and Zarren. You got to break up the band. It was a good run, it can’t be the family affair anymore.”
Washburn pointed out recent Celtics draft misses, including Mattisse Thybulle and Desmond Bane, who Boston selected and traded away. Brandon Clarke went after Grant Williams, with Ainge navigating into position to pick and guarantee money to Carsen Edwards.
Worse, Washburn argued, Boston held onto those players instead of finding veterans and other young players to replace them. Washburn sees rival teams like the Nets and Heat finding unsung talent like Mike James and Duncan Robinson, while investing in veterans like Trevor Ariza and Dewayne Dedmon.
“Get some guys in your organization who know the league, better talent evaluators, and guys who can assess and draft better,” Washburn said. “Stop having this Celtics way thing where you turn your nose up at guys like Ariza and guys who can really help you ... the Lakers brought in Ben McLemore ... last year they got Markieff Morris ... meanwhile the Celtics have Semi Ojeleye, Carsen Edwards, Romeo Langford.”
Washburn noted that the entire 2019 draft class is still here and relied upon with minimal contributions in return. Ainge used the most picks in the NBA between 2016-2020, with various opportunities to consolidate them, to the point where the Celtics had to start trading them away for little return because they don’t have enough roster spots.
Paul Pierce, he argued, is among various names that could enter Boston’s front office and offer different ideas once the dust settles on his departure from ESPN. On both the sideline and in the front office, Washburn wants to see NBA veterans who won that Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown can have confidence in and connect with.
“You need good decision makers,” he said. “Some young decisions makers in the front office that don’t have that ‘we only do it this way’ kind of mentality, so you can draft better.”