What Will Danny Ainge Do During Offseason?

BOSTON – What will Danny Ainge do?

That’s the question that is on the minds of many Bostonians and every member of the NBA fraternity.

Ainge has set the Boston Celtics up for success. He has set them up for right now.

He has hired Brad Stevens, who in only three years’ time has ascended into the top echelon of NBA coaches.

He has accumulated loads of draft picks, some of which have already turned into young and valuable NBA prospects.

He has signed high-level, impact players to exceptionally valuable contracts.

He has perfectly managed the team’s salary cap environment.

The set-up has finally reached a crescendo; Ainge is ready to burst the bubble.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that he will. It takes two to tango.

The summer of 2016 has long been on the minds of Ainge and his staff, far before he green-lighted the trade that sent Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to Brooklyn. His group, which refers to itself as the Basketball Intelligence Agency (BIA), doesn’t plan for next year or the year after; it plans five, six and seven years in advance, and for nearly every possible scenario during that time frame.

Shrewd moves over the past three years have positioned Ainge to be ultra aggressive this offseason and beyond. He can and will pursue the best of the best via free agency and trade. That process began leading up to last week’s NBA Draft, and it will continue through the free agency period, which begins at 12:01 a.m. Friday morning.

Many on the outside – those who have heard only rumors about Draft-related trade scenarios – have questioned Ainge’s thought process over the last week. But Ainge has made it clear that the offers that were on the table leading up to Boston’s third overall selection just didn’t make sense – not for the Celtics, at least.

“I’m a firm believer that if [media members] were sitting in my office and listening to our conversations,” he said Friday afternoon, “there might be 5 or 10 percent disagreement if this deal is good or not. But 90 percent, I’m pretty confident, would say, ‘No, you can’t do that.’”

This is the dance general managers must navigate on the trade front. It really does take two to tango. Trades don’t just happen.

Ainge’s conversations are not akin to the ESPN Trade Machine, where dreams are oftentimes deemed to be “successful” transactions. In the real world, Ainge needs to be comfortable with a swap, and the general manager on the other end of the phone must also be comfortable with the transaction. It’s not a simple task to reach that point.

The very same can be said for free agency. There is no doubt that Ainge will be in the ear of every high-profile free agent this offseason and beyond. Ainge, a former pro baseball player with the Toronto Blue Jays who has two career home runs under his belt, will be looking to knock a couple more out of the park.

A Celtics contingency that will be headlined by Ainge and Stevens will present themselves and their historic organization to such free agents. But in the end, those players must deem the Celtics to be their workplace of choice, and they must choose Boston to be their city.

There is stiff competition out there, not only in free agency, but also in the trade market. With an exploding salary cap, more teams than ever are armed with cap space and attractive situations to lure free agents. Likewise, with the NBA growing deeper and deeper with talent, many teams are positioned to make attractive trade offers.

Boston, however, is one of the few teams in position to do both, starting first thing Friday morning.

So what will Danny Ainge do with so many options on the table? He’ll try to do it all, and he’ll try to turn the Celtics into a contender if he can find one or more dance partners.

But what he won’t do is put a stamp on a bad deal.

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