Danny Ainge might be one of the most open general managers in the NBA. Some, like Sam Hinkie or RC Buford, would prefer not to speak to the media at all, because giving away even the slightest bit of information leaves them at a disadvantage in future trade negotiations. Ainge, on the other hand, had no qualms about talking to the media about potential deals that fell by the wayside during the NBA trade deadline.
Ainge told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher and Rich Show that the Celtics almost pulled off a massive deal, one that would have seen them deal away several of their valuable stockpiled assets.
“We were very close,” Ainge said. “I can’t tell you the team or the name, but it was very close. It’s something that we had been deliberating on for two days straight. The other team was doing that. And we were wrapping ourselves around a big package to do a deal. And at the very last minute, they just said they did not want to do it. They just backed out. It was a deal that was talked about, thought about, and that was probably the closest that we came.”
Ainge later said, on a different show, that the Nets pick, by far the most valuable of their assets (yes, even their players) was involved in the deal.
As open as Ainge is, he’s not going to to name the team or the player, obviously, but it’s clear that, by involving the Nets’ first-round pick, the deal would have been for a significant piece.
It’s hard to see the Celtics dealing that pick for a rental, so it probably wasn’t centered around Al Horford or Dwight Howard. This means it would have to be for a relatively young player signed through probably the next two seasons, at least (or a player they knew would re-sign this summer). From a purely speculative standpoint, the names that come to mind are Danilo Gallinari, Harrison Barnes, or maybe one of the young players on the Jazz or Magic.
It’s possible we see this deal, or some iteration of it, come to fruition this summer, so the mystery may not remain a mystery for long.