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Robb: Patience Pays Off For Danny Ainge In Isaiah Thomas Trade

BOSTON (CBS) - Danny Ainge is a patient man when it comes to trading.

Over the past couple years, the Celtics' president of basketball operations has steadily collected assets via draft picks and trade exceptions, calmly waiting for the right opportunity to pounce on a promising upgrade to the Celtics roster. On Thursday afternoon, he finally got that chance by acquiring Suns point guard Isaiah Thomas.

Boston was rumored to be interested in the 26-year-old guard all week and it's easy to see why. He's on an affordable contract. He's both started and come off the bench during his four seasons with the Suns and Kings, averaging at least 15 points per game in limited minutes.

Luckily for the Celtics, Thomas was also reportedly frustrated playing behind Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe in Phoenix. Suns GM Ryan McDonough, who also served as an assistant GM under Ainge in Boston, brought Thomas to the desert this summer, thinking he would be an asset to the team's already deep backcourt. Instead, the three-guard rotation frustrated Dragic and Thomas enough that McDonough elected to send both packing on Thursday in separate trades.

Robb Talks Thomas Trade On 98.5 The Sports Hub: Part 1

Ainge was reportedly in the mix for both Suns guards this week, but settled for the lesser player in Thomas. That's not a bad thing though when you compare the trade packages for both players.

The Miami Heat sent two future first-round picks (one unprotected), along with Danny Granger and Justin Hamilton to the Suns in exchange for Dragic and his brother Zoran in a three-team trade. That's a high price for a player who will likely be seeking a five-year deal from Miami this summer worth somewhere around $100 million.

The Celtics likely did not want to pay that hefty cost for Dragic, whether it was satisfying Phoenix's asking price for the point guard or Dragic's future salary demands. There was also no guarantee that Boston could keep Dragic away from other appealing free agent destinations this summer, since Boston was not on Dragic's list of "preferred" cities.

Instead, Ainge went with the more cost-controlled option in Thomas. The former second-round pick is only making $27 million over his four-year contract, and has the same kind of scoring ability that Dragic provides. He's got more flaws than Dragic as a player, but not enough to offset the salary disparity.

More importantly, the Celtics paid far less of a price to acquire Thomas, compared to Dragic. The first-round pick the Celtics gave up is a 2016 top-10 protected first-round selection from the Cleveland Cavaliers. With Kevin Love, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving firmly in place for the Cavs for the foreseeable future, that draft pick is likely to fall in the 20's next year. A pick that late in a weak 2016 draft class is not one Celtics fans should be worried about missing.

Robb Talks Thomas Trade On 98.5 The Sports Hub: Part 2

All in all, Ainge added to his team's future outlook without doing much damage to his asset stockpile. That's a win-win for any team in the midst of the rebuild.

Thomas may not be the All-Star Dragic is, but he makes more sense as a piece for the Celtics to build with moving forward.

Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @CelticsHub.

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