This past season marked Danny Ainge's 15th full season as president of basketball operations for the Boston Celtics after being hired at the tail end of the 2002-03 season. Over the upcoming two weeks ahead of training camp, we will be taking a closer look at his tenure in Boston, reviewing some of his best and worst moves during the past 15 years and how it's brought the Celtics to this point.
We begin with a look at his top five free-agent signings over the past 15 years, a few of which are still impacting the franchise to this day.
James Posey (2 years, $7.5 million in 2007): The veteran swingman only stuck around for one season (his second year was a player option) but this signing for a portion of the mid-level exception put in place an essential sixth man for the 2008 Celtics championship. Posey and the Celtics got what they wanted out of the arrangement as the C’s won the title and Posey earned one last big contract in the summer of 2008 from the Pelicans in a four-year deal. He was out of the league three years later but the C’s certainly could have used them in a couple of deep playoff runs without him as they struggled to find consistent wing depth behind Paul Pierce and Ray Allen for the rest of their tenures. A hefty luxury tax bill and cap limitations kept them from ever replacing Posey adequately during that era.
Evan Turner (2 years, $6.2 million in 2014): The addition of Turner never will be felt in the record books (the C’s never advanced out of the first round with Turner on the roster), but in the midst of a rebuilding era, the swingman helped make Boston look like an appealing destination faster than most anticipated. He averaged 10 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists per game during his two years in Boston, giving Ainge some great bang for the buck on a cheap rehabilitation project. Turner was able to parlay the strong performances into a massive four-year, $72 million deal with the Blazers, while the C’s turned into a free agent destination that same summer of 2016.
Marcus Smart (4 years, $48 million in 2017): It’s early but this deal is already looking like a massive bargain in the wake of a breakout offensive season from Smart. If he continues to improve heading into his sixth NBA season, this will quickly turn into one of the best bargain non-rookie deals in the association.
5. Al Horford (4 years, $113 million in 2016): The big man became the biggest name signing in C’s free-