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Danny Ainge reveals great tactic he used in 2007 Kevin Garnett trade

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Danny Ainge reveals great tactic he used in 2007 Kevin Garnett trade

How did Danny Ainge become "Trader Danny," a sharp-minded executive willing to do whatever it takes to pull off a blockbuster deal?

You could argue his legend was born in 2007, when Ainge completed one of the biggest trades in Celtics history: Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Sebastian Telfair, Gerald Green, Theo Ratliff and draft picks to the Minnesota Timberwolves for All-Star big man Kevin Garnett. 

Ainge negotiated directly with one of his ex-Celtics teammates in Kevin McHale, then the Timberwolves' vice president of basketball operations. On the latest episode of "The Michael Holley Podcast," Ainge took listeners inside those negotiations -- and shared a great tactic he and the Celtics used to get the deal done.

It was a no-brainer for me, and I know it was a no-brainer for (Celtics managing partners) Steve (Pagliuca) and Wyc (Grousbeck). But there were those on our staff that were bringing a lot of data that were saying we shouldn't do the deal. Because we're trading Al Jefferson, who's trending up, and Kevin Garnett's age is (making him trend) down.

And when that information was brought to me, I said, 'Perfect. Fax that to Kevin McHale right away.' So they could see why they should do the deal to send him to us. And we actually did that."

According to Ainge, the Celtics played coy by trying to convince Minnesota it was getting the sweet end of the deal. Jefferson was entering his prime as a 23-year-old, while the 31-year-old Garnett was coming off his 12th NBA season. Why not sell high on KG while you still can and land your big man of the future in the process?

Ainge went the extra mile by literally faxing the evidence to the Wolves, and apparently it worked: The deal went down on July 31, 2007, and less than a year later, the Celtics were NBA champions.

Now can you see why opposing general managers are hesitant to deal with Ainge?

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Load management works for Kawhi Leonard, so what about Celtics' Kemba Walker

Load management works for Kawhi Leonard, so what about Celtics' Kemba Walker

BOSTON — When it comes to NBA players, the more you're around them, the more you learn. 

Take Kemba Walker for example. 

Before becoming a Celtic, I knew all about his killer step-back shot and the cross-over. I knew he was far more competitive than most folks outside of Charlotte realized. And how he was a pesky defender; not Marcus Smart pesky but definitely part of irritante family of NBA players at that end of the floor. 

But what I didn’t anticipate was how often he gets knocked around on a night-to-night basis. 

And how from time to time, he’ll linger on the floor a little longer than most Celtics fans feel comfortable with, fearful that this will be the hit that he can’t bounce back from quickly. 

But as each hit passes he eventually rises to his feet, displaying an unflinching level of durability few players in the NBA possess in this era of self-preservation cloaked in the verbage known as “load management.”

And the Celtics are doing their part to keep Walker upright by giving him something in games he didn’t get nearly as much of while in Charlotte. Rest. 

The Celtics aren’t in full-blown load management mode when it comes to Walker, but there’s no mistaking how they have gone about finding a balance between him playing superstar-like minutes while still getting proper in-game rest along the way. 

The results thus far have been impressive. 

Walker is still putting up All-Star level numbers (23.4 points, 5.0 assists, 4.5 rebounds) for a Celtics team that at 11-2 has the best record in the Eastern Conference. 

And here’s the kicker. 

He’s doing it in 33.5 minutes per game, the fewest he has averaged since his rookie season. 

Walker is following the path blazed by Isaiah Thomas and Kyrie Irving as far as being a more efficient All-Star, both in terms of his play and how his playing time is being utilized with the Celtcs. 

And while his durability is unquestioned (he has missed six games total in the last four years), we know at some point all those minutes logged will catch up to him and make playing at the elite level that he’s at now, far more difficult than it is currently. 

No one is giving too much thought to how many minutes Walker is playing and its impact down the road. 

But as the wins keep piling up and the confidence of this team keeps growing, at some point sooner rather than later, the Celtics have to do all they can to best ensure that Walker is as close to being 100 percent health-wise going into the postseason. 

We see teams across the league resting their top players from time to time for no other reason than to give them a night off, with the intent being to keep them as fresh as possible for when the games matter most. 

The success that the Toronto Raptors had last season while resting Kawhi Leonard spoke to the best-case-scenario for using “load management” to benefit your top players. 

Now with the Los Angeles Clippers, we see that Leonard continues to be on load-management restrictions. 

The Clippers will host the Celtics on Wednesday, with no indication whether Leonard will play for the first time with his new running mate Paul George, who recently returned to the lineup following offseason surgery on both shoulders. 

And while the Clippers (8-5) haven’t been nearly as successful in the regular season than the Leonard-less Raptors were a year ago, that doesn’t matter. 

The Clippers are playing for an NBA title this year, and are confident that a healthy Leonard — regardless of their playoff seeding — can make that happen. 

Meanwhile, Boston didn’t come into the season with a roster built to compete for and potentially win an NBA title. 

But with their fast start to the season, along with the growth of Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum among others, and Walker’s play, the calculus for the expectations of this team has been modified. 

While it’ll be difficult for them to come out of the East and get to the NBA Finals, there’s a brighter flicker of hope at the end of the tunnel of self-doubt that maybe — just maybe — this Celtics team can shock the world and be one of the last teams standing. 

In order to do that, they will need Kemba Walker to continue playing at an upper-echelon level as far as impacting the game, a process that becomes more doable if his minutes continue on a load management-like schedule. 

C's Director of Player Development Allison Feaster joins The MichaeI Holley Podcast:

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Clippers, which tips off Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 10 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.  

 

Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Clippers live stream: How to watch online

Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Clippers live stream: How to watch online

The Boston Celtics (11-2) look to keep it rolling on Wednesday night when they take on the Los Angeles Clippers.

The C's had their 10-game win streak snapped by the Sacramento Kings on Sunday, but bounced back with a dominant 99-85 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Monday night. Jayson Tatum was outstanding, dropping 26 points and adding 11 rebounds in the win.

Boston will look to carry its momentum into L.A., but it won't be easy. The Clippers could have Kawhi Leonard back just in time for the matchup according to head coach Doc Rivers, meaning it may be their first time having the feared Leonard/Paul George pairing this season.

Be sure to tune into NBC Sports Boston for Celtics Pregame Live at 9 p.m. ET, followed by the game at 10 p.m. or stream it via the MyTeams app. 

HOW TO WATCH

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ANALYSIS AND REACTION

BEFORE THE GAME: At 9 p.m., Celtics Pregame Live presented by TD Bank gets you ready for the game with reports from Kyle Draper, Chris MannixMike Gorman, Brian Scalabrine, A. Sherrod Blakely, Chris Forsberg, and Abby Chin. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream.

AT HALFTIME: Tune in to watch a breakdown of the first two quarters on Halftime Live presented by Ace Ticket. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream.

AFTER THE GAME: As soon as the game ends, tune to Celtics Postgame Live presented by New England Ford for analysis, commentary and player reaction. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream

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Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Clippers, which tips off Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 10 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.