Report Card: Danny Ainge
Season highlight: Ainge's shrewdest move might have been flipping Davis to Orlando for Bass. For all of Davis' talents and chemistry with the Big Four, he was a constant headache with his mercurial behavior. Bass proved to be an offensive upgrade and was excellent once he settled into the team's help defense system. Bass kept his mouth shut, worked his way into the starting lineup, and was a key cog in Boston's second-half success. Honorable mention: Ainge resisting the urge to make a move at the trade deadline, keenly identifying that this core still had a playoff run in it.
Season lowlight: The preseason had to be a source of incredible frustration for Ainge and his staff. Working quick after the lockout lifted, the quest for CP3 came up short and relations with Rajon Rondo had to be repaired a bit. The team thought it had the likes of West and Evans, only to watch them sign with other teams. Combine it with the heart issue that ended Jeff Green's season and Boston didn't start the year on the right foot.
Final grade: B
Teacher's notes: Put in a tough spot with the lockout and all the injuries Boston endured, Ainge did a solid job putting together a competitive roster that was able to withstand all the adversity. Even after being rebuffed in his attempt to overhaul the core by adding Paul, Ainge audibled to Plan B and added enough around the veterans to make a run. His quietest moves deserve some of the biggest credit: Like flipping a Daniels trade exception to Milwaukee to land locker room leader Dooling, or plucking Stiemsma out of the D-League, and landing Pietrus off the waiver wire after Green went down.
What's next?: Ainge faces maybe his most daunting summer yet. He needs to decide whether to put the band back together for one more run with this core -- that all hinges on Kevin Garnett and his future -- or whether to blow things up a bit and start working towards the future. The Celtics have potential cap space if KG decides to hang it up, but the free-agent pool isn't as deep as once expected and Boston can't easily add an elite player (like Paul or Dwight Howard, who were supposed to be available this summer). Ainge must work his magic to keep this team competitive and start building towards the future.
Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.
Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on Ainge's 2011-12 season? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.
Play Podcast ESPN NFL analyst Tedy Bruschi weighs in on the responsibility Tom Brady shoulders for the Patriots, Rob Gronkowski's physicality and how New England will use Darrelle Revis.
Play Podcast Buster Olney talks to Alex Speier, Karl Ravech and Justin Havens about whether the Red Sox will move Jon Lester before the trade deadline, pace of play and much more.
Play Podcast NFL Films' Greg Cosell covers the Cowboys' defense, Rob Gronkowski's impact, Darrelle Revis' performance last season, the Giants' talent level and the outlook for the Cardinals.
Play Podcast Buster Olney and Keith Law talk about the Tigers' acquisition of Joakim Soria and whether it's wise to trade within the division. Plus, Matt Gelb on the Phillies' plans.