The 2020-2021 Boston Celtics: One Failed Move After Another

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On Monday evening, Evan Fournier signed with the New York Knicks and with that came an exclamation point on the failure that was the Boston Celtics 2020-2021 season.  It was really just a fitting end to Danny Ainge's last season as President of Basketball Operations, one where every personnel move he made seemed to be the wrong one.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Let's leave the draft out of it for the time being.  I know people feel strongly about the Aaron Nesmith selection, but it's still too early to truly evaluate those selections.  I'll stick strictly to free agency and trades.

It started with the free agent signings of veterans Jeff Teague and Tristan Thompson.  I'll admit I felt good about both of these signings at the time.  Solid veterans who could provide value both on and off the court. 

A veteran point guard to back up Kemba Walker was a great area of need heading into last season, especially given Walker's health concerns.  Teague seemed like a great fit and had a previous relationship with Brad Stevens.  Unfortunately, that move never panned out.

Outside of a few good spurts, Teague gave Boston next to nothing.  He found himself playing during mop up time, or not playing at all in more than a third of games.  Boston cut their losses and dumped Teague at the trade deadline, acquiring Fournier in the process.  Luckily enough for Teague, Orlando released him and he found himself in Milwaukee where he became an NBA champion.

Thompson managed to last the entire season in Boston, and contributed more than Teague did, but still was not the player the Celtics needed him to be; at least not consistently enough.  He posted a career low in points per game, and averaged less than nine rebounds per game for only the fourth time in his 10-year career. 

Boston hoped Thompson could bring some championship pedigree and leadership into a young, Celtics locker room.  Unfortunately, that never materialized.  In fact, Thompson was pretty open about his thoughts on the regular season and its importance.  A point of view that was in pretty stark contrast to Brad Stevens led teams in the past; ones that typically gave maximum effort night in and night out. 

Thompson showed his value on the court at times last year, but not consistently enough, and now appears to be headed to Sacramento.  Reports of a three-team trade that would send the big man to the Kings have yet to be confirmed.  Some think that another team could end up being added to this deal before it's finalized, but regardless of what the final trade looks like, it appears Thompson's tenure is over.

Now, the in-season moves.  The big one, the acquisition of Fournier.  Another move with high hopes, that never panned out.  It's hard to hold Fournier's performance in his short time in Boston against him.  It's always hard to join a team halfway through the season and fit in.  Add in the fact that he battled through COVID-19, and missed a bunch of time, it's no surprise he never quite gave the Celtics what they were hoping for.  

It was a gamble to acquire a player on an expiring contract.  Though there was no guarantee he would stick around at the end of the year, Boston felt confident in being able to re-sign him.  Well, we all know that didn't happen.


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However, to me, the move that burned the Celtics the most last year was trading Daniel Theis.  Theis was a casualty of needing to create enough cap space for Fournier.  I don't think anybody expected Boston to miss Theis as much as they did. 

Ainge elected to put all of his faith in Robert Williams.  When he was on the floor, it paid dividends.  The problem was he couldn't stay on the floor - something that has plagued him his entire career.  The trade of Theis depleted Boston's frontcourt depth and really hampered them down the stretch as they jostled for playoff positioning.

Boston went 15-13 over the final 28 games without Theis, but Williams missed almost half of those games (13).  In those 13 games, the Celtics were left with a frontcourt of Thompson, Luke Kornet and the occasional Tacko Fall.  No surprise, they went 4-9 in those games.  Feels like Theis certainly could have helped.

Ainge's tenure as President of Basketball Operations ended on a sour note, with one failed move after another.


Follow Derek on Twitter @mcvay34.

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Boston Sports Syndicate: The 2020-2021 Boston Celtics: One Failed Move After Another
The 2020-2021 Boston Celtics: One Failed Move After Another
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