Danny Ainge Rumors
Meeting with reporters in the aftermath of the draft, Ainge hinted at his team’s dogged pursuit. “Maybe we were going too hard at it,” he said. “There was a time when I thought, ‘Woah, this is getting a little out of control.’ We’re putting a lot of eggs in one young player’s basket. So I’m not frustrated. In the long run, maybe it’ll be the best.”
The Celts indeed are pushing for major moves, though according to sources around the league, yesterday’s rumors were cause for much laughter both near and far. “Hey, listen,” Ainge said, “we all want a faster turnaround, but we have to remain patient, and at the same time we have to try to make deals and get better more quickly if we can. You know, we don’t want to make any mistakes. We don’t want to give up on some of our good, young players, but for the right deals, we have to be willing to do what’s necessary and what we think is right.”
You’d think that would be an easy choice, that GMs and owners would see the long-term benefits of building the right way and would weather the storms as required. But there is occasional trade talk that involves one side saying, “We have to make a move. My owner’s on me. We can’t afford to be irrelevant.” “Sure,” Ainge said. “I’ve heard those words come out of GMs’ mouths. But I guess that’s just part of it. I think that it’s pretty easy to tell which franchises are under fire . . . and I think that sort of starts with ownership. Having an ownership that believes in their coach and their general manager and that allows them to do their jobs I think is a big benefit for the long-term health of a franchise. Our ownership is in it. They know the big decisions that are going on and they have faith in us. That makes it more fun to work and it’s more conducive to a successful franchise.”
Gary Washburn: Danny Ainge: “There should be a lot of movement on draft night, so stay tuned.” #Celtics
Danny Ainge’s opinion did not change, but the lukewarm showing ignited some concerns among others on the staff. “We were like, ‘Wow, that was bad,’ ” Austin Ainge said. So the Celtics made an unusual request: They wanted Smart to return for a second workout. “I’m going to come back better this time than I was last time,” Smart told his agents at Wasserman. “And if they want me to come back a third time, I’m gonna be even better.” In Smart’s second workout, his competitive fire was apparent. He had something to prove. “I was getting to the rim, making shots, playing defense,” he said. “I made my dominance known.” Said Danny Ainge: “Our staff was not on the same page before that. His second workout allowed us to collectively and unanimously be on the same page.”
Even for NBA decision-makers, bad cell phone service is the worst. “There’s been some times when text messages didn’t go through,” Ainge said, “and we go back and check, and it didn’t send, and we’re freaking out that they didn’t get the trade proposal.”
Robert Horry: Whenever I hear people crying about Kobe yelling at people in practice, or wondering whether or not LeBron is best friends with his teammates, I just roll my eyes. You know how many off-court conversations I had with the Zen-Master Phil Jackson in my entire time with the Lakers? One. I was sitting in the trainer’s room getting treatment and he was sitting on the table across from me. “What happened with you and Danny Ainge in Phoenix?” he asked. “I didn’t like him, so I blew up and threw a towel at him. I didn’t handle it the right way.” “Okay.”
It’s hardly a secret a slew of teams, including several lottery ones, are exploring potential trades. One team that is making a concerted effort to move into the lottery, league sources claim, is Boston. The Celtics are dangling their two No. 1 picks: Nos. 16 and 18.
“I wasn’t going to put any pressure on Brad, because Brad didn’t really know Erm,” he said. “I was doing it until we found something. It took about two or three weeks when Brad gobbled him up. But we have a full staff, and we’re not in a rush to add anyone. “He was part of our defensive staff. Brad, Micah (Shrewsberry) and Erm are our three defensive coaches. Micah was doing it all before, and Erm brought in a new taste and opinion. We may just replace him from within now. It’s not that we have to replace him. There’s only so much air in the room.”
The Celtics, already at full capacity with Brad Stevens’ on-bench staff, simply couldn’t offer Erman a bench position. That doesn’t mean his unique talent wasn’t valued. “We had a full staff before he showed up,” said Ainge. “I had enough faith in him that I brought him in (last summer) not knowing how we were going to use him. I was going to use him on my staff, or Brad could use him on his staff.
Danny Ainge: @StephenCurry30 has to be the best shooter of all time. The percentages along with the variety and the degree of difficulty separate him.
Workouts are expected to continue Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, before Ainge departs for a player showcase in Europe. Expect bigger names — players more likely to be taken with the 16th pick — to come in as the draft draws closer. Thus far, with the exception of Arkansas power forward Bobby Portis, the Celtics have spent a lot of time looking at second round and free agent possibilities. “We joke every year that there’s 60 guys going in the top 30 picks,” Ainge said of players who envision themselves as a higher pick than the team asking them for a workout. “But players . . . believe in themselves. Outside of the top 10 picks it gets really hard. We see every year a guy who is projected 45 goes 15, and a guy who’s projected 15 goes 45. There isn’t a ton of separation. There’s a lot of players between pick 20 and pick 40 who aren’t that different. It’s hard to distinguish.”
“Teams are switching more,” says Danny Ainge, the Celtics GM. “And that means the post-up is still relevant.” Brutalize the switch, and a team may ditch the idea — unshackling the pick-and-roll again. Posting up against mismatches isn’t just for big guys, either. The Rockets know Terry can’t stick with Curry, but they can’t slide him over to Thompson or Harrison Barnes, either. Those guys aren’t high-volume post-up killers, but they’ve shown they’re just polished enough to do back-to-the-basket damage against shrimps. You don’t have to be great. You just have to be competent. That competence has been a crucial ingredient for Golden State in this series against Terry, and in past playoff series against Tony Parker and Ty Lawson.
Thomas did not name specific players on his wish list during an interview with the Globe, but he said a rim-protecting big man would be at the top of it. “A defensive-minded player,” he said. “It’d be nice to get one of those in the draft. A lot of the big men out there could definitely help us out. But I know Danny is always up to something.”
Thomas lived in a hotel after being acquired in a February trade with the Suns, and he has still yet to purchase or even lease a home in Boston, so it has been difficult to get past a feeling of temporariness. But a recent conversation with Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge was both comforting and compelling. “Danny said if there’s any free agent out there I’m interested in, to let him know,” Thomas said by telephone. “That has me excited. For him to ask for my input means a lot, because it means I’m definitely, right now, a part of the future, and they also value your word and what you think about the game of basketball. It means a lot, and it’s a mutual respect we have. Now, hopefully, we can get a few guys.”
Ainge wound up in the Celts’ front office, of course, and Pierce has talked about staying in the game and working toward a similar job. “He definitely has an acumen and understands the game and understands players. Absolutely,” Ainge said, scouting Pierce’s personnel abilities. “It’s a different world. You’ve got to learn to work. It’s not a job you do for two hours a day. But I think he’ll be very good at it.”
Danny Ainge can also understand the decision facing Pierce, who will likely play an 18th NBA season in 2015-16. The Celtics president of basketball operations retired as a player at 36 after 15 years in the league. “I’ve always said that Paul loves the game,” Ainge said. “Paul loves basketball. I felt like I was the same way. I had more basketball left in me when I walked away, but Paul definitely has basketball left in him, no question about it. I walked away because I had six kids and I would have had to pack them up and move them again, and I had a great opportunity that doesn’t come along often with TNT. But I was considering going to Greece for big money. I was considering going to New York to play. But ultimately I just walked away and went into television.”
“Usually teams do one or the other. You try to compete, and that involves getting rid of young players, maybe bringing in some more veteran players, trading draft picks for vets. Or you rebuild, and that means trading away veteran players, really only focusing on picks and young players. The challenge is to do both. I think the really good organizations can do it, but it’s tricky. I think when you’re with an organization like the Celtics or the Suns that have great history and tradition, it’s not really acceptable or certainly not desirable to bottom out. You don’t want to bottom out and hope for luck in the lottery. “I admire the way the Celtics have done it,” he said. “They’ve done a tremendous job. They’ve got all the future picks in the queue that are coming down the line. They have some good young players. Obviously they have excellent management and coaching. The fans will see over time how things will work out.”
Another local guy now running an NBA team, Hingham’s Ryan McDonough, GM of the Suns, mentioned the Celts’ ability to avoid going deep into the tank while rebuilding. “I think they’ve done a terrific job of not only gathering assets but also remaining competitive while they do it,” said McDonough, formerly the assistant GM under Ainge. “It’s not an easy thing to do. We’ve tried to do a similar thing in Phoenix.
A Chicago-Boston deal involving Gibson and Avery Bradley would probably at least spark some initial talks. The Celtics need a little more force on defense from someone in their big-man rotation, and they’ll have a glut of perimeter players once James Young earns playing time. But Gibson’s age and Danny Ainge’s well-known love for Bradley — he turned down a first-round pick for Bradley at the trade deadline, per league sources — would likely scuttle any such deal.