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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