Friday , Jul , 06 , 2007 Oly Sandor

Danny Ainge Wrong To Blame Paul Pierce If Boston Celtics Fail

Celts’ GM Danny Ainge recently put Boston’s fate on superstar Paul Pierce … What about Ainge’s run at the top of the green-and-white? … Isn’t he accountable, too? … Click here for news and analysis ….

Dan Shaughnessy reports on Boston GM Danny Ainge putting the pressure on superstar Paul Pierce:

 So, who assumes all the pressure now?

Danny Ainge or Paul Pierce?

We know it won’t be Doc Rivers. It never is. But Ainge has a bull’s-eye on his back after last week’s moves and he’s throwing everything at the size-15 feet of Pierce. He’s telling us that he got Ray Allen for Paul. And now it’s up to Paul to deliver the goods.

Ainge has overhauled the entire roster (except for Pierce) since taking over the Celtics. He has talked about a "vision," while appearing to be blind a good deal of the time. He has enjoyed a good relationship with the media and been spared the torchings that singed the likes of Lou Gorman, Rick Pitino, and Dan Duquette. He has presided over a train wreck of a team that won only 24 games last season.

When he made the deal for Allen on draft night, the Celtics were graded as big losers by many pundits and a significant portion of the dwindling Celtic constituency.

Reached in Utah via telephone this week, Ainge defended his professional life. And put everything on Pierce.

"The gist of the criticism has been that we’re wishy-washy in our plans and not consistent with our public message," Ainge acknowledged. "I don’t think that’s right. From the very beginning, we’ve tried to accumulate assets. We decided two years ago we weren’t trading Paul Pierce. We were going to try to surround Paul Pierce with at least another significant player — hopefully two — to give him the best opportunity to win. That has been our public statement pretty consistently. I don’t want just any veteran player. The fact that we were making a run at Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen is exactly what has been in our plan. So, it’s very consistent with what we’ve been trying to do.

"My owners are very happy. My players are excited. Al Jefferson. Paul Pierce. And Ray Allen. They feel rejuvenated, optimistic, and confident in the team. And my coach is thrilled about it. I can see the opposing views of the deal. We discussed all these different views, although we never did discuss the fact that Ray Allen was Dominique. The vision now is to try to surround Paul and Ray and Al with the best chance to win."

There you go, Paul Pierce. You told your agent you wanted the Celtics to make a deal for an established star. They fulfilled your request. Now it’s up to you to deliver the goods. If the Celtics aren’t good now, it’ll be your fault. Not Danny’s fault or Doc’s fault. Paul Pierce’s fault. 

My Quick Take: Pierce won’t be happy reading this column. Danny Ainge has run the Boston Celtics without a plan. True, he’s accumulated assets. But last time I checked assets were things accountants balanced or fantasy GMs collected.

Ainge, as an NBA GM, must do more than collect parts and pieces. He needs to have a vision for how these parts and pieces will fit together. Until now, Ainge has had little vision, throwing players together like a pot of gumbo soup. The results haven’t been tasty.

But Ainge, finally, formulated a plan. He decided, after much flip-flopping, to build around Pierce and acquired All-Star Ray Allen from Seattle in a draft day trade. Ainge deserves credit for bringing in a talented player.

‘The Truth’ and ‘Jesus Shuttleworth’ together. It sounds great. Literally. Pierce and Allen should produce on-the-court, too.

However, Ainge was too quick to shift the pressure towards Pierce. One trade won’t make up for his disappointing tenure in Boston. And one injury-prone season won’t make Pierce the scapegoat in Boston.

Ainge is on the hook if the Pierce-Allen experiment fails. It sounds like he knows it, too.

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