The Boston Celtics were unable to come out on top in the James Harden sweepstakes. With Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Kemba Walker, the Celtics certainly had the pieces to make a move -- but were apparently unwilling to give up what they needed.
According to league executives, that sort of thing is normal for the Celtics, who seem to always drive a hard bargain in trade talks.
A Western Conference Assistant GM on if Ainge drives as hard a bargain as is often portrayed in the media: “(laughs) Yes! In my experience yes. I don’t think it’s the whole thing that he has to win the deal, but he wants everything he can get. One time our GM hung up the phone and said ‘I think I just gave Ainge the right to pick our next jerseys and the right to swap first-born children of future draft picks’. (laughs) It’s a little unnerving.”
An Eastern Conference Executive: “Absolutely. We’ve walked away from deals with Boston because they push too hard for an extra piece. Sometimes it’s a player, sometimes it’s a pick. Once, it was draft rights for a guy we didn’t think would amount to anything, but we stuck to our principles. Damn sure if that player didn’t end up coming over and having a nice career. Sadly, we traded him for less than Ainge was willing to give for him.”
Needless to say, Ainge has a bit of a reputation around the NBA community.
And while it has clearly cost them at least a number of players/picks, it's fair to say that Ainge has put his team in a pretty good position. With some of the best young talent in the league, and an 8-4 record in the East, Boston is on track to make some serious noise this season.
Looks like all those "hard bargains" have paid off for the club...