The results of this series thus far have me wondering if it's even worth it for Danny to have a plan. After all, the best-laid plans of mice and men tend to crap out, and a lot of what we would call "success" in pro sports has quite a bit to do with being in the right place at the right time.
The Spurs lose their best player, David Robinson, for an entire season, then beat the lottery odds to land the No. 1 pick and get Tim Duncan. I realize that a lot of other things had to go right, but that was really the key. Pop's a great coach, but he's not winning all those titles without Duncan.
Pau Gasol turning out to be way better than anyone thought he'd be was key to the Lakers' last two titles.
Miami's last two titles were only because the Superfriends decided to go there instead of Cleveland or Toronto.
And so on and so forth.
I'm not saying there shouldn't be any planning or direction, but it also seems, a lot of times, that there has to be some very fortunate occurrence that sets everything in motion. Again using the Spurs as an example, they have a great owner, great GM, great coach, and great scouts, and quite a few players want to be there now—but it's possible that none of that translates to titles and sustained success without Robinson getting severely injured and the pingpong balls falling San Antonio's way.
All of which is to say, Danny striking gold with KG and Ray was probably a once-in-a-lifetime situation that can never be replicated, yet he seems to be trying to replicate that, waiting, waiting, waiting for that star or two to become available.
That star might've been available in Cousins, but if so, Danny obviously didn't want to take that risk.
That's his choice, but I don't see any situation where a transcendent player like KG is going to become available anytime soon.
Even if available, Jimmy Butler and Paul George are not on that level. Neither is Kevin Love. LeBron isn't going to be available in his prime. Probably the same for Durant, and we already struck out with him anyway.
Plus, who wants to trade with Ainge now? As much as he struggles at drafting, he succeeds in trading, but everyone knows that now and doesn't want to deal with him. And not only do other GMs mistrust Danny, they know that his leverage lessens as various deadlines approach, because at some point he has to actually use those assets—trade exceptions expire, cap room does no good if it's not used, and he has way too many draft picks. So other teams just won't bite, preferring to watch Danny and his assets wither on the vine than take the risk of inadvertently helping him.
So I guess things are mostly riding on the draft? But what if Boston gets the third, or even fourth, pick instead of first or second? What if Ainge gets the first pick and drafts Sam Bowie instead of Michael Jordan, Darko Mlicic instead of Dwyane Wade?
The Thunder had great draft success but reached only one Finals (and lost). They had Durant, Westbrook, and Harden and still couldn't win it all; can we expect to have anywhere close to that drafting success?
The Bucks aren't known for sound management but they landed Giannis, and the current Bucks team has more raw talent (and more poise under pressure) than this Celtics team.
Many have speculated that Danny is keeping his options open, trying to compete as much as possible now while still retaining enough assets to make a big move should the right opportunity present itself.
But is that really his plan?
If so, does it even matter?