Larry Bird told a story, with we think some resentment, of a conversation Danny Ainge had with Boston Celtics legendary GM and president Red Auerbach near the end of Bird’s career in which Ainge urged Auerbach to trade Larry Legend.
Auerbach didn’t hesitate to trade people but he was also keenly loyal to great players and wouldn’t have traded Bird anymore than he would have traded Bill Russell or John Havlicek. So Bird retired a Celtic even as the team declined along with him (on the other hand, as always, Auerbach had a plan and expected the late Len Bias to succeed Bird and carry the team for a decade or more, plans that died in 1986 with Bias and a large draft night pile of cocaine).
Ainge has Auerbach’s old job now of course and though his philosophy is quite different has gradually put Boston into an amazing situation. Auerbach said once that one of Ainge’s qualities is that he tends to be lucky, but he also is really smart about arranging trades and stacking up future draft picks.
With (mostly) young talent like former Duke stars Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum, along with Gordon Hayward, Al Horford, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier, Boston is loaded now and for the foreseeable future.
So perhaps it’s no surprise that Irving recognized this team’s immense potential and announced – in October – that he would re-up with the Celtics next summer.
That’s huge news for Boston even though it implies other problems like perhaps too much talent and expensive talent that will eventually lead to the league’s luxury tax.
On the other hand, Ainge, as we have already seen, has no problem making moves when necessary and can probably stack up high draft picks for the next several years – which means that the Celtics are well positioned for a decade or more.