CLEVELAND – Danny Ainge is always on the prowl for talent.
But when it comes to getting deals done, the other ‘T’ word – trust – is in some ways just as important to identify when it comes to getting a deal done.
And that trust comes over time and in many different forms such as previous dealings in the front office, or in some instances working with a former teammate.
Ainge, the Celtics’ president of basketball operations, spoke about the importance of trust in what was the biggest trade he has pulled off to date – landing Kevin Garnett from Minnesota in 2007.
“The biggest trade we made was with my best friend in the business, Kevin McHale,” Ainge said on 98.5 the Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich Show.
At the time, McHale was the General Manager of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
“It wouldn’t have gotten done if not for Kevin and I, because there had to be so much trust going back and forth,” Ainge said.
But when it comes to evaluating players and their potential fit with the Celtics, Ainge leans on himself and his staff.
“The relationship is important but I don’t necessarily listen to their evaluation,” Ainge said.
That becomes quite topical now with the Celtics having had some discussions with the Houston Rockets about Dwight Howard who played for McHale in Houston prior to McHale being fired earlier this season.
While Ainge did not speak specifically about Howard and Boston’s level of interest in the former eight-time all-star and three-time Defensive Player of the Year, there’s not a team in the NBA that Ainge hasn’t had a conversation with recently.
But does that means he’s close to making a major deal.
“Most of the time, ninety-nine percent of the things talked about and discussed, don’t happen,” Ainge said. “This time of year there’s a lot of discussions. It’s really hard to predict if there’s any deals there. Usually they happen at the very end, the very last day.”
And for the Celtics, any deal would shake up a roster that’s currently playing its best basketball of the season. The Celtics (29-22) are currently tied with Atlanta for the third-best record in the Eastern Conference with wins in seven of their last eight games, and 10 of the last 13.
“I feel like our team is playing well,” Ainge said. “We let some games get away as the season has gone along, but our team plays hard. Our team is in on almost every game this whole year with the exception of one game.”
But don’t get it twisted.
Ainge won’t hesitate to make a deal if he believes it can significantly improve the team’s standing in the short or long-term.
“I do feel like we need to make improvements on our team, but not necessarily at the trade deadline,” Ainge said. “We can’t force anything. Right now, there’s nothing on the table, there’s nothing imminent. We’ve just had a lot of discussions and hope that next week come trade deadline (Feb. 18, 3 p.m. EST) we’re prepared to make the right decisions.”