There’s been a really big misconception about the Danny Ainge tenure with the Celtics. He’s known as trader Danny and is willing to trade anyone but that really isn’t true. Ainge’s true calling card is that he tries to win every trade. That statement epitomizes the Celtics negotiation tactic in the Kawhi Leonard sweepstakes. Ainge isn’t willing to part with any of his five starters (Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward, or Al Horford) to land the Spurs superstar.
“Boston’s really got their top-five players off limits,” Wojnarowski said on ESPN’s SportsCenter. “Boston is more willing to do a deal that’s pick-heavy. The Spurs want good players back. They don’t want to rebuild. They want picks and they want guys who can help them stay in the playoffs.”
I’ve said from the beginning that I agree with Ainge’s strategy. There is no reason to part with any of those guys to land Kawhi. A: The Spurs have zero leverage. B: Kawhi already requested a trade and cited the Lakers as his preferred destination. Meaning there’s a massive risk that he will not re-sign with Boston where the city is located on the opposite coast of Los Angeles. C: The Spurs don’t want to trade him to the Lakers or the Western Conference in that mater. All Boston has to do is become the most attractive offer out East. D: Kawhi has threatened to sit out the season if he is not traded. They have no choice but to move him. E: He has one year remaining on his contract so if they don’t trade him, Leonard will leave for nothing. F: He is coming off an injury and played 9 games this past year. We have no idea where he stands medically. Therefore, why would Ainge part with anything of significant value on the current roster?
Here’s my offer, San Antonio. Marcus Smart, Marcus Morris, Guershon Yabusele, Terry Rozier, plus the Clippers and Celtics 2019 first round pick. Take it or leave it.