As he followed the troubling tango between the Celtics and Clippers, Jan Volk had a reaction that was both intellectual and visceral. He’d seen this move before. He’d lived this movie.
“It gives me flashbacks to the negotiation style, flashbacks to a frustrating time,” said Volk, who worked 26 years for the Celts, much of that as general manager.
The time to which he speaks is the summer of 1985 when it took some three months for the Celtics to negotiate and execute a trade with Donald T. Sterling’s team that would net them Bill Walton for Cedric Maxwell and a No. 1 draft pick.

“The process started in June after the Finals, within a week after we lost (on June 9, falling to the Lakers in six games), and it went through Labor Day or a day or two after that,” said Volk of the deal that was announced on the Friday after the holiday.
So while Danny Ainge has had difficulty dealing with a process that has taken something less than two weeks to this point — although it finally produced an agreement in principle yesterday with coach Doc Rivers going to the Clippers for a first-round pick — it can be fair to assume the Celtics president of basketball operations will not have to go through the endurance test Volk and team president Red Auerbach did 28 years ago.
But the way the earlier saga ended might be instructive.
First the details of the marathon that got Walton to Boston, where he won the 1985-86 Sixth Man Award.