Danny Ainge was on a real radiator.
It started with Brooklyn nets trading. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett may have been at the back of their career when they were displaced, but the Nets thought they were at hole 10 or 11, so they accepted the outrageous demands to try to win immediately.
They did not do it, but Ainge did it. He won again when he acquired Marcus Thornton of the Nets and Tyler Zeller, as well as a first round pick of the Cleveland Cavaliers, under a three-team contract allowing the Cavs to sign again LeBron James.
This gesture engendered Isaiah Thomas and in the meantime, Rajon Rondo was overthrown for Jae Crowder. Jeff Green has been turned into a first-round pick of Memphis Grizzlies that Boston currently has. Semi Ojeleye and Guerschon Yabusele also have direct origins in the initial trade of the Nets.
The last piece of the deal was to overthrow Thomas, Crowder and Brooklyn's last choice in Cleveland for Kyrie Irving.
At the time, we did not know it was the end of Ainge's magic.
Gordon Hayward, Boston's second major free agent, signed in less than a year. He broke his leg in his first match with his new teammate. Ainge had exchanged his chance against Paul George, who at the time was powerless to join the Los Angeles Lakers, to sign Hayward. He was always ready to trade, but the Indiana Pacers were impatient or finding a better deal until Boston got back on track.
It's hard to imagine worse luck than that. The catastrophic injuries come from nowhere, the teams blinding and leaving them struggling.
However, luck deteriorated when Kyrie Irving had a knee pain that required surgery that cost her the end of the season. This time it was not luck that was as bad as the timing. Everyone knew the device that held his knee against his patella after removing his fractured patella, they had just hoped to delay the inevitable until the aftermath of the season.
Boston ended up without his two superstars, which, in retrospect, may have been a bit of a misfortune as well. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier who helped Boston qualify for the quarter-finals of the NBA may have done more harm than good.
Brown's was revealed to be a potential All-Star. He was a defensive threat attacking the rim and shooting better than anyone expecting depth. He was, at the time, a kind of Kawhi light.
So, when Kawhi Leonard was available in the summer of 2018, Ainge was reluctant to add his future Kawhi to an exchange against the current one. He was not alone at the time, of course. Everyone had questions about Leonard's health and his desire to play. We can now say that the Toronto Raptors are lucky to have been embarrassed by LeBron James in the playoffs.
This led them to do what Ainge would not do. They gave up good players and had an excellent one. They became champions. It's impossible to know if Boston would have it as well, but the fantasy gives the impression that it could become more real at the moment.
However, nothing counted for Ainge, because he had his heart all the time fixed on a different target.
Anthony Davis has always been the apple of Ainge's eye. Every big name that he forwarded was because he knew Davis was there to take it. The magic Ainge, which had allowed his Boston Celtics to win now and later, was about to work again.
Irving and his young protégés, whom he considered young, did not quite agree. The young, well-thought-out Celtics were not in the mood to adjust to Irving's leadership tactics or Hayward's need for re-education disguised as playing time.
It did not work.
He did not work for Anthony Davis in New Orleans either. But instead of letting things quietly unfold, Davis hired Rich Paul as his agent and he demanded an immediate exchange with the Los Angeles Lakers.
In exchanging for Irving, Ainge pulled out of Davis' trade deadline. Instead of being able to correct chemistry problems on the fly by adding a mega-star to the trading deadline, a quirk in the collective bargaining agreement prevented Ainge from making the obvious move.
Instead of adding a 26-year-old superstar to a team that clearly needed a change, Ainge was forced to ask New Orleans to resist the urge to end their circus, while Ainge persevered wisely. The pelicans did it, but it did not have a major effect on Ainge's luck.
Irving and the Celtics have never understood that and Irving has moved from part of Boston's future to a very likely part of his past. When the time came for Ainge to finally hunt his white whale, his spear gun was loaded with blank cartridges.
Ainge has been wildly outbid on Anthony Davis, which, at first glance, is not his fault. He can not help thinking that Rob Pelinka, a novice general manager, was under such pressure that he gave up control of his project for a period of six years. He can not help but realize that LeBron James, Rich Paul and Klutch Sports are striving to succeed every turn of the book for this to happen. He can not help but add that it was not logical at all to propose to Jayson Tatum a package corresponding to what he thought was a one-year lease.
Retrospect could just as easily have been one of George Carlin's dirty seven words, because what it reveals may seem obscene. Even if the decisions, at the time, seem judicious, we now return to the history of Ainge's decisions and we do not see George, not Leonard and not Davis.
He only has Tatum, Brown and a hope for the future.
It's almost like one of those cartoon gags where someone is hanging on a rim and something is sliding his hand, finger by finger. At this point, he only has one or two left before falling.
The Boston youth movement, derided by Irving and transformed by Ainge himself, is now the future of Boston. It does not matter if it is Ainge who beats big or who misses or who has the greatest patience.
What matters now is that it is that.
Ainge hit the Powerball with the Brooklyn trade, but like most winners in the lottery, he has only a few dollars left. He now has one last investment. It's a last chance to change your luck, otherwise all that capital will be gone.
Ainge should know how that feels. Few people shoot the ball as he did when he was playing, but every shooter gets cold from time to time.
It's Ainge's shooting crisis. What Tatum and Brown represent now is the hope that he will be able to get hot again.