Danny Ainge on the 1989 trade to Sacramento: “I was excited about it”

Danny Ainge Boston Celtics
Photo: NBA.com

The Sacramento Kings are considered one of the most dysfunctional NBA franchises in the last 15 years, but as Danny Ainge claimed, there was a time that it was excited to play for the franchise.

In a move that was consummated by Bill Russell, Ainge was traded to the Kings on Feb. 23, 1989. The Boston Celtics president of basketball operations described his excitement about playing in Sacramento at that time.

“I think it made a lot of sense and I was excited about it,” Ainge said on Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn. “Bill Russell was my general manager and he had talked with his good friend K.C. Jones about me. I was excited to go to Sacramento and after that first year, there was a lot to look forward to in that franchise.”

The late-1980s Sacramento Kings were a very promising team with 1989 NBA draft no. 1 pick Pervis Elisson as their main star, the late Rick Berry, and several other players, which made their impact during the 90s like Kenny Smith.

Ainge was the first to leave the legendary Boston Celtics 80s team led by Larry Bird, as the team decided to go on a rebuild the next couple of seasons.

“I just felt our team after the ’87 season was just not the same,” Ainge said to Gary Washburn. “The health of Larry [Bird] and the health of Kevin [McHale], those are guys who were two of the top five guys in the NBA and they weren’t the same players. And the team, when they lost Len Bias, they needed to try to find a way to replace those guys.

I just thought it was a logical time because we had DJ [Dennis Johnson] and [Jim] Paxson and Brian Shaw and Reggie Lewis, there were just a lot of guards and they needed bigs. And I didn’t feel like the Celtics were going to be contender any time soon.”