NBA Rumor: Celtics Front Office

177 rumors in this storyline

“I think that, by moving Kemba,” Ainge told Heavy, “it allowed Marcus (Smart), Jaylen (Brown) and Jayson (Tatum) and Robert Williams to really thrive in positional size, with Horford taking up a big responsibility in the front line for Robert and moving Jaylen, Jayson and Marcus to their positions where they can have size advantages. “It’s just a better fit. I think that is really clear.”

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Danny Ainge still keeping in regular touch with Celtics top brass

Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck still exchanges text messages with Ainge about once a week. President of basketball operations Brad Stevens, who was hired by Ainge as the Celtics’ coach in 2013 before replacing him as lead executive last spring, said he and Ainge remain in frequent contact. Assistant general manager Austin Ainge speaks to his father every day. “I was telling him what I think they should be doing against the Mavericks, and he was telling me what he saw against the Nets,” Austin Ainge said. “We even talk about playoff series neither of our teams are involved in. But he’s been rooting very hard for us and is very invested. He obviously cares for us in the front office. He worked with us for so many years. He’s super-invested in the players. He spent hours and hours with these guys, and of course he’s pulling for them.”

What are you looking for in the buyout market as you look to fill out the roster? Brad Stevens: I think the No. 1 thing when you look at our team is we have pretty good depth down the line with ballhandlers. We have pretty good depth with the addition of Kornet and Theis with our bigs. We want to make sure we are as fortified in the wing area and specifically in versatile wings that can guard a number of positions and can be 3-and-D type plug-in players. I think that’s really important. I’m excited to learn more about Malik (Fitts) and Kenan (Martin). There’s a natural connection that could be made to Kenan but I never coached him (at Butler). I followed him closely and his improvement has been really good and I thought he had a good stint with the Pacers. Both of those guys are big, strong guys that can guard a number of positions and that are hungry.

The Celtics now have five potential core pieces — White, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Robert Williams, and Marcus Smart — under contract through at least the 2023-24 season. Smart and Williams are locked up through 2025-26 and Tatum has a player option that year. Part of the reason Stevens jumped at the chance to add White was the three years remaining on his deal after this season. “This is good for three months,” said Stevens. “But this is really good for three and a half years.”

“I think it’s our hope of being special,” Stevens said when asked about his team’s emerging defensive identity. “And maybe that comes in the next three or four months, maybe it takes longer to get there. “But I think the baseline, the identity of a team — the reality is, if you truly want to measure a team and how it functions together, just watch them guard together, watch them talk, watch them cover for each other, see how much they care on that end, see how much effort they’re giving for each other, let alone individually. And that can tell you the story of what a team feels like.

How do you think Brad Stevens has performed in the infancy of taking over as president of basketball operations? Danny Ainge: “I think Brad’s done a great job. I think that getting Dennis Schroder in here this summer was huge. And Josh Richardson is really playing well for the team right now, especially lately after a little bit of a slow start, but he’s playing really well. I think that the team — we have seen what Aaron Nesmith and Payton [Pritchard] could do, they showed us what they could do last year. But there’s just so much depth on the team, especially in those wing and outside-shooter positions, that it’s tough.”

Celtics interested in Hawks assistant GM Landry Fields

Any team’s march into later playoff rounds also prompts rivals searching to brain drain from a successful front office, and the rumors linking Hawks assistant general manager Landry Fields have not quieted either, sources said. Amid ongoing questions about the future structure of Boston’s basketball operations, Fields very much remains a top choice of Stevens and Celtics ownership to join Boston as the team’s general manager, sources told B/R.

Atlanta could simply block the Celtics’ pursuit by elevating Fields to the same post underneath Hawks president Travis Schlenk, who currently holds the title of general manager. In that scenario, it’s believed Boston’s vice president of player development and former WNBA veteran Allison Feaster would be the leading candidate to be named general manager under Stevens. The 45-year-old was the only Celtics figure aside from ownership and Stevens who partook in Ime Udoka’s final interview, sources said. “It seems like she’s getting some serious traction,” said one assistant general manager.

Members of the Celtics' front office and coaching staff in the dark about their futures

Members of the front office who spoke to The Athletic under the condition of anonymity said they have not had definitive conversations on their future as of yet as they continue to fulfill their roles. Stevens has stated publicly he will continue to consider making additions to the front office, which does not have anyone with top-flight playing experience besides Feaster, who spent a decade in the WNBA.

News of Stevens’ abrupt change in title did, however, surprise many figures around the NBA. It is rare for such an esteemed young coach to leave the sidelines so soon and so suddenly. The fact that Stevens, 44, is signed to a lucrative deal through 2025-2026, further perplexed several league executives contacted by B/R. “One of the best coaches in the NBA deciding to join a front office and leave the sidelines doesn’t just happen overnight,” said a team capologist. “It doesn’t happen over a few days. It happens over a few months.”

Colleagues believe Brad Stevens will succeed in front-office role

Brian Scalabrine, who was an NBA player and assistant coach before becoming the color commentator on Celtics broadcasts, said he was unsure what qualities make a general manager successful. Roster construction, he said, can be a jigsaw puzzle. And luck is involved. “But I think that Brad grasps and understands the big picture better than most,” Scalabrine said. “Sports are emotional, from fans to players to family members to front offices, it’s an emotional thing. I think he controls his emotions and makes calculated, measured decisions based on what he feels like matters, and he pushes aside things that don’t.”

One man who has had a bit of success as both a coach and an executive and still fills both roles believes that Stevens’s background should help. “There’s a lot of lines that run together there,” said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. “You can’t be the head coach and not be aware of contracts and acquisitions and things like that. I don’t know exactly how they’re set up, and each situation is a little bit different, but Brad has enough experience in basketball and with the Celtics and with the NBA to handle all the things that he’ll need to be handling.”

Celtics considered pursuing Sam Presti

Before hiring Stevens, league sources say Celtics ownership considered other internal candidates and even pondered pursuing Sam Presti, a Massachusetts native who has run the Thunder since they were still the Sonics. Presti is a proven front-office boss who steered a small-market team to great success through savvy acquisitions and wise draft picks. Stevens has no front-office experience, and has been in the NBA since only 2013, when the Celtics plucked him from Butler.

Ainge will have more time for golf now. He has not ruled out resurfacing in another front-office position elsewhere. Though the world learned of his decision to step down from his role with the Celtics on Wednesday, he has been plotting the move for some time now. He said he trusted his instincts to tell him when he needed to leave. “And my instincts told me a couple months ago that it was time for me to move on,” Ainge said. “And that’s what’s best for us. That’s what’s best for the Celtics.”

Repeat for every player picked since 2010, and this method allows us to approximate performance above or below average for every team in the past decade or so. (For players technically picked by one team but traded to another before playing a game, we included them for the second team; Kawhi Leonard is a Spurs selection, not a Pacers pick, for these purposes.) All together, Celtics draft picks since 2010 have had an expected value of 84.7 wins. And they’ve had an actual value of 83.3 wins—nearly a perfect match for expectation.

Despite developing two All-Stars in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, Boston’s momentum has cratered. A series of free agent defections, misspent draft picks and cuts in payroll has resulted in a team that finds itself far off from the stated goal of hanging an 18th championship banner to the TD Garden rafters. Their weaknesses have been exposed, and they’re lacking in good options to fix them. So, with two games left before the All-Star Break and less than four weeks until the trade deadline, the Celtics are still searching for their identity. “I feel like our group is pretty together,” Celtics GM Danny Ainge told ESPN. “Guys are working hard still, and I feel like we don’t really know who this team is yet.”

The Boston Globe has an interesting interview with Danny Ainge this morning. In it he tries to deflect the blame game from falling on Brad Stevens and the coaching staff. Instead he takes the full weight of responsibility upon his own shoulders. What about you, Danny? Is it time to start ripping the president of basketball operations? “Sure!” he said. “We’re not playing with the passion that we need. I think that’s on the players. And the players on the team are on me.

BSJ: Danny has talked openly about the fact that he does not plan to make any big moves ahead of the trade deadline and wants to make a run at it with this core group. When he provides that vote of confidence publicly, does that provide any kind of a boost or help make you feel better about the situation? Jaylen Brown: It kind of feels the same. It doesn’t make a difference. We just have to come out and play basketball. We know this game is a business. We understand that. We’ll see what happens after the All-Star break. Like Danny said, this group is the group that we have. That’s great. Let’s continue to move forward and try to build towards a championship.

Q. What’s the next step? Wyc Grousbeck. What we’ll do over the next month is determine if there’s anything we can do in February [prior to the trade deadline] to advance the team to a new level. But when I look at the team right now, I feel really good about their character, really good about their skill, really good about the upside over the next 5-6 years, with young players and the draft. I feel overall confident and excited we can make some noise over the next 5-6 years with this core group, adding on when we can. But this season still does feel like a work in progress, and it feels like we’ve got a long way to go if we want to make some noise in May again, or even in June.

Q. You mentioned spending the next month looking at possible moves. What is your role in that? Wyc Grousbeck. We’ll just leave that in the mystery category. But what happens with trades is that they’re proposed by the basketball side and I’m kept up to date all along as the phone calls develop and as we think about what assets we might include and what the team might look like after a trade. And so I approve them or disapprove them, or try to change them, and that’s gone on for 16 years.

Wyc Grousbeck. I know both February and June will be very active. Because we have all these draft picks and young players, we get a lot of calls. And so Danny, Mike Zarren, Austin Ainge, they get a ton of calls and try to figure out if there’s anything to recommend to me to make the team better. My view of this draft right now is it’s going to be as many phone calls as we’ve ever had. I don’t worry much about what players we end up drafting, because that’s completely on the basketball side.

The 2019 NBA trade deadline is just over a month away. Should fans expect the Boston Celtics to make some moves? It’s a fair question, as the Celtics haven’t quite met their lofty expectations to date and have dealt with some depth-thinning injuries. But while C’s president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will do his due diligence, he seems to like the roster he has right now. “We’re always looking to upgrade our team if those opportunities present themselves. But I think that’s going to be tough,” Ainge said Thursday on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher & Rich.”

Ainge scrunches his face as he ponders a future he rarely tries to picture. “No, I don’t really look forward to being retired,” he says. “I don’t think I will leave this job ever and, like, retire. At least not in the near future. I don’t see doing that, no. I need to be doing something. I’m too hyper. My wife and I have had 40 years of a great marriage. I think that if I was home too much, it might not last much longer. I think she needs me out of the house at least six or eight hours a day.”

The grandkids get their playing time because, hey, Danny Ainge is the one who makes out Danny Ainge’s schedule. “That’s the best part of my job,” he says. “I work more than I ever have, but because I don’t have to be with the team every single day, there are more times when I can be at important things. Like, I’ve been to a few weddings this year. Unfortunately, I’ve been to a few funerals. I have time for life things, and I can schedule my work around some of them.”

Fair to say you didn’t trade any of your treasure trove of assets at the deadline the last couple seasons because LeBron was standing in your way? Ainge: “Absolutely. I think that’s very fair. I’m not big on draft assets at the trade deadline. Most of the time those trades don’t work out. Occasionally they do. We were never faced with anything that was tempting enough to trade our assets that would get us over the hump or would guarantee us that we were going to beat LeBron or Golden State.”

Smart’s feelings were admittedly hurt when the Celtics didn’t immediately reach out to him at the start of free agency on July 1, after offering him only a qualifying offer to retain matching rights once he entered the restricted free agent market place. That all apparently changed the day Smart signed his new contract. “There’s no bad feeling between me and the organization,” said Smart. “I knew coming in this was a business. You have to overlook the business side to build a relationship personally with certain people, certain organizations, certain teams.
4 years ago via ESPN

Boston’s front office inner circle — Ainge, Zarren, director of player personnel Austin Ainge and director of scouting Dave Lewin, with heavy input from coach Brad Stevens — was in agreement that Irving was the sort of player the team absolutely had to pursue. “I feel like there’s opportunities that you have to look at and explore, and Kyrie was one of those opportunities that, unanimously, internally it was something that we all felt like we should do,” Danny Ainge said. “Everybody, unanimously, wanted to do it.”
4 years ago via ESPN

The deal, exciting as it was, still left Boston brass with mixed emotions, particularly because of what Thomas had given to the team during a mesmerizing 2016-17 season in which he finished fifth in MVP voting and gave up his body to help Boston get to the conference finals, all while dealing with the tragic loss of his younger sister. As the Celtics and Cavaliers prepped for a trade call on Aug. 22, Ainge made the heart-wrenching call to alert Thomas of the impending deal. Zarren said he isn’t sure he could have made that call; neither is Stevens. “The range of emotions were really wild because you would have no thought that Isaiah Thomas would ever be a part of a trade,” Stevens said. “I thought, with Isaiah, that was really hard. I’ve talked about the emotional investment that you have as a coach and a player, and working together every day, and that’s why I’ve said that I don’t think I could do the front office because those hard decisions — I do not envy those. The only way you would even consider doing that is for a person of Kyrie’s caliber. But that doesn’t make it any easier.”
4 years ago via ESPN

The addition of Irving, during a summer when the team added Hayward and drafted Tatum, also morphed Boston from spunky overachiever to legitimate title contender. It’s why the Celtics couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pursue Irving last summer — no matter the obstacles it took to get him. “I thought Kyrie was going to be a great fit and obviously I still feel that way,” Danny Ainge said. “At the same time, [the trade] was a challenge, as was moving Isaiah and Jae, and there’s always a part of that when you’re in the middle of acquiring a player. That’s the hard part of it. “The price and the timing, it was all critical. I think there’s risk in every deal we do, but with a player like Kyrie, I think we were all willing to take that risk. And we’re glad we did.”

The Celtics selected Tatum with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. But he could have gone No. 1. Boston originally had the first pick and famously made a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers to move down to No. 3, where it knew it could still land its top choice. Celtics president Danny Ainge has openly spoken since about how the team would have taken Tatum first had it kept the pick. “I joke with Danny all the time, he should’ve just took me No. 1,” Tatum said while guesting on The Bill Simmons Podcast at The Ringer. “I could’ve kept a few dollars of my paycheck. Tell (Ainge), ‘You owe me some money.'”

Doc Rivers didn’t want to rebuild, so he left Boston for the Clippers. Now he’s watching summer league games and facing a reconstruction project in Los Angeles as the Celtics seek to clear the final hurdle with new faces. The Celts had hopes of making The Finals this past season, but injuries to Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward got in the way — though it still took a Game 7 stinker against Cleveland to knock them off the flight to the title series. Most teams have five-year plans, but rarely does one make it from tear-down to contendership in that frame. “That’s Danny (Ainge) and Brad (Stevens) and those guys — and, I mean, obviously the players, too,” Rivers told the Herald. “But they’ve done it as well as it’s ever been done, because all these other teams, including us now, everybody has a plan, but the plan has to work. And if it doesn’t work, then you have to start over again with another plan. And Danny and them have been able to run their plan.
4 years ago via ESPN

This is one kind of scenario the Houston Rockets envisioned in April, when they proposed before the NBA’s competition committee that the league should start free agency at least a week — and likely more — before the draft. The Rockets are not the first team to contemplate that notion; Mike Zarren, Boston’s assistant general manager, used his very first tweet as a plea to flip the order of the draft and free agency. (The concept is popular across Boston’s brain trust; Zarren noted in his tweet that Austin Ainge, Boston’s director of player personnel, sold him on the idea.) Other leagues, including the National Football League, schedule free agency first.

The Celtics didn’t get Durant, but they got the next best prizes available in successive years. And Ainge’s biggest, boldest acquisition, of course, was getting Brad Stevens out of Butler and watching him blossom into one of the NBA’s top three or four coaches seemingly overnight. “Boston having lottery picks without bottoming out and selecting the right players and having a high performing culture driving veteran with Horford has been critical to their success,” the Western Conference executive said. “The Brooklyn trade is the gift that keeps giving. The fact that Boston is winning with such young players in high pressure situations gives young teams hope.”

Pagliuca said Stevens voiced his love for the team and its extensive basketball history, as well as his confidence that he could make a difference for the organization. But there was also a specific stipulation should he accept the job. “The one thing he wouldn’t do going forward was try to lose a game, or you know, ‘tank,’” Pagliuca said. “So if we were going to have a strategy, maybe like ‘The Process,’ he was not going to participate in that.”

“You know what? Sometimes I talk too much,” said Ainge. “‘Setback’ wasn’t the right word, so let me rephrase that because it’s not exactly true to say it — or say it that way. What happened is he went on the AlterG [anti-gravity treadmill] the first day and he felt some soreness. It was the first day he tried the AlterG, a long time ago. He just wasn’t ready for it at that point. That’s all it was. So I think ‘setback’ is the wrong way to put it. I mis-phrased that.”

“I’m not sure what the right word is, but he wasn’t ready for that. So we waited a couple of weeks before we started that again, and since we started that again it’s been great and he’s progressed along on the AlterG. That’s all. It wasn’t like he had an accident or anything like that. I used the word ‘setback,’ and it became a headline. Like, ‘Oh, setback.’ It got blown out of proportion. It’s my fault. I’m not blaming anybody. ‘Setback’ was probably too strong of a word.”
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August 8, 2022 | 3:18 am EDT Update

Dejounte Murray to Paolo Banchero: 'You tried to flex that #1 pick shit on me'

“You Tried To Flex That #1 Pick Shit On Me When I Been Rooting For You When You Was A Kid Asking To Rebound For Me @paolo5 Don’t Get On This Internet Saying Nothing… You Changed From The Humble Kid You Always Was And I Stand On Real Shit Boy And YOU KNOW!!!!!!!! You Made It And Changed And I Lost All Respect!!” “ Stay Humble. This Life You In Now Is REAL And Ain’t No Joke!!! I STILL WANNA SEE YOU WIN Cause That’s WHO I AM!!!”
ClutchPoints: “It’s a man’s league. He a little boy, he’s too soft.” Dejounte Murray calls Paolo a “little boy” and “soft”  (via @HomeTeamHoops )

Storyline: NBA Beefs
To recall back in 2019, Holmgren became the talk of social media after he crossed Curry and dunked the ball on him. The then-high school big man basically used Steph’s own move on him. Now, he just made it to the NBA, with the Oklahoma City Thunder using their second overall pick on him. Curry couldn’t be any prouder of what several of his camp’s alumni have accomplished, including Holmgren. While he will never forget how Chet embarrassed him, he said it’s “dope” that they are now going to face each other in the big boys’ league. “Chet hit me with my own move, little double behind the back … he finished it differently than I would though, I would have just pulled up from 3, he went to the basket and dunked on another dude. It’s pretty dope that he’s now in the league as the No. 2 pick,” Curry explained, per Bleacher Report.