Danny Ainge says he could’ve dealt draft picks that became Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown in trade for Jimmy Butler

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About a decade ago, the Boston Celtics were becoming aged and rusty when then-executive Danny Ainge made a shrewd move by trading Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in a big move with the Brooklyn Nets.

The trade gave Boston the draft picks that later turned into Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Yet, Ainge admitted that he may have had the opportunity to give up those picks for Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler.

“There was a situation where I could’ve given away both of those picks to get Jimmy Butler, and so that criticism is fair, like hoarding your picks to get rid of Jimmy Butler,” said Ainge.

Ainge said this when addressing the rumors that the Celtics were thinking of trading for Anthony Davis, but he claimed that was never an option for them.

Throughout their storied history, the Celtics have often seemed to make sneaky moves such as that 2013 trade with Brooklyn in order to receive players or draft picks that replenished their roster and set up a new championship run or era.

After receiving first-round draft picks in 2016 and 2017 in that deal, Boston traded the 2017 pick, which turned out to be No. 1 overall, for the third pick in that year’s draft, which it then used to select Tatum.

As a result of those two deals, the team has reached the Eastern Conference Finals four times in the previous six seasons. In two of those trips to the conference finals, it faced Butler and the Heat.

Last season, the Heat narrowly fell to the Celtics in Game 7 as they were forced to field a somewhat depleted roster due to injury.

This time around, the Celtics are looking like the best team in the league, while the Heat are struggling to remain in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Miami has a 32-27 record and is in seventh place in the East, and they rank last in points per game.

If the two squads meet again in this spring’s postseason, it will likely be in the first round of the playoffs.

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Robert is a native of Santa Monica, Calif. and a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has been an avid NBA fan since he was a little kid in the mid '90s, and during that time he has lived through the Alonzo Mourning, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James era of Heat basketball. He feels strongly that the NBA and sports aren't just entertainment, but also a means for learning life lessons.