After trading away anyone of substance from their roster at the deadline and firing their coach shortly after, the Portland Trail Blazers have reopened their search for a general manager.
I know what you're thinking. Big whoop. Good for them. They're 3,000 miles away. What does that have to do with the Celtics?
According to The Oregonian, one person that Portland may be looking to bring in is Celtics general manager Danny Ainge.
Is Danny Ainge going to stay in Boston? If not, the Eugene native has a track record of executing the exact move the Blazers need this summer: taking good draft picks and turning them into gold, like he did when he traded the No. 5 overall pick (Jeff Green) to Seattle for Ray Allen, then trading Al Jefferson and expiring contracts for Kevin Garnett. In one season, the Celtics went from the cellar to NBA champions.
Where the Blazers' target is, I don't know. But I get the sense their list is very short and their aim is big. I told Miller on Tuesday that Allen has a history of making a big splash: luring Nate McMillan away from Seattle. Landing Mike Holmgren, then Pete Carroll for his Seahawks.
I'll admit that I have no idea how much substance this rumor has. It appears that the only things connecting Ainge to Portland is that he's from Oregon and that Blazers owner Paul Allen is good at convincing people to work for him. Ainge has made no public inclination that he is considering leaving his position with the Celtics.
I know that there really isn't much middle ground when it comes to opinions on Ainge's time in Boston. You either love or hate what he's done. His supporters love him because he made the deals to bring the Celtics a championship, has done pretty well finding value in the draft — particularly in the second round, and he isn't afraid to listen to all offers if they could end up helping the team. His detractors tend to spend more time talking about the fact that he hasn't prepared for a future after the Big Three, his seemingly lack of loyalty and the Perk trade.
Like all GMs, you take the good with the bad. Personally, I'm a huge supporter of Ainge. He does what he thinks is best for the team. Sometimes he's right (see Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett in 2007) and sometimes, not so much (see the above trade of Kendrick Perkins). While the Perk trade is, and will always be, indefensible, there's another banner in the rafters because of the moves he made five years ago and the drafts that he conducted prior to then that gave Boston the ammunition it needed to pull the triggers on those deals. In the end, it's all about wins and losses. Danny Ainge has helped the Celtics win more games than they've lost.
This could be a case of "you don't know what you have 'til it's gone" for the Danny haters. Remember life before Ainge, when Rick Pitino, Chris Wallace and others were running the show and the Celtics were the habitual bottom-feeders of the Atlantic Division? It was a time when thoughts of championship banners were nowhere near the fronts of the minds of Celtics fans. Ainge had as much to do with the team's turnaround as KG, Ray or Doc Rivers did. Even in the depleted stage that they're in now, Ainge's team is a team that no Eastern Conference club is looking forward to playing in a seven-game series.
If Ainge were to leave, it would be a crushing blow for the Celtics. He has built one winner and he can build another. Hopefully, he builds that winner in Boston.