Danny Ainge Rumors

In game 6 of 1993 nba finals, Why did you immediately kick out to paxson instead of putting it up for 2. It was absolutely the right basketball play to make, I’m just curious because it was a decision you made in an instant, so I would love to know if you had any thought process in that very brief moment or was it just off instincts. Horace Grant: It was a combination of both. It was a very instinctive play because I saw in my peripheral vision that Danny Ainge and Dan Majerle were right there. They were right there, and I knew that someone was open. And it just happened to be a great shooter like John Paxson. So it was a combination of basketball instincts, and knowing that I had two guys on me. For example, during the Bulls’ second three-peat, when John Stockton came over and double-teamed Michael Jordan, he passed it right to Steve Kerr who made the shot. So it was a combination of both.
Appearing on ESPN’s The Lowe Post podcast, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said he’s hopeful the team’s practice facility will open next week in advance of the suspended NBA season resuming in the coming months. “Massachusetts has been one of the slowest in opening things up. Our next phase is, we’ll open up our facility. We’re hoping to do it next week,” he told ESPN’s Zach Lowe. “It’s 1-on-1… one coach, one player. Coaches with masks and gloves. Players in the gym, disinfect the gym. I don’t think anybody’s afraid of that”
Storyline: Season Suspension
“So I get back to my hotel [in Phoenix], I’m about to fly back home for like two days before I go to New York [for the draft] and my agent called me and he’s like, ‘Danny Ainge called and said they’re going to trade their [No. 1] pick, they’re going to go to 3 and they want you to come to Boston the next day to work out,’” recalled Tatum. “I’m like, ‘No, I don’t want to go to Boston. I like it out here in Phoenix. It’s cool. The weather is nice. I get a big house, I get a pool, my mom is going to be out here.’ [Tatum’s agent was] like, ‘Brad Stevens is a great young coach and they have a great history.’ I’m like, ‘I’m not trying to hear that. I want to go to Phoenix.’”
Mark Bartelstein, now one of the most powerful agents in the NBA, was just beginning his career when he walked into the Hyatt in Lincolnwood, just outside Chicago, for his engagement party on April 20, 1986 — a Sunday afternoon. Bartelstein had a problem. His beloved Chicago Bulls were about to tip off Game 2 of their first-round series against the juggernaut Boston Celtics. Jordan, Chicago’s second-year star, had scored 49 points in Game 1 — a Boston win — after barely playing that season due to a broken foot. Bartelstein approached the bartender and asked if he might turn on the game. The bartender replied that he couldn’t, because a large party had booked the room. “I couldn’t leave the bar,” Bartelstein said. “It was the greatest performance I’ve ever seen. It still is.” “It’s my party,” Bartelstein said. On the game went. Jordan started on fire, torching Dennis Johnson, and then Danny Ainge, and then two and three Boston defenders at once.
At some point, Bartelstein’s future mother-in-law approached and stressed to Bartelstein the importance of attending his own engagement party. “I said, ‘OK, hold on, this is crazy, Jordan is going off,'” Bartelstein recalled, laughing. He never made it to the party. His mother-in-law did not talk to him again until the wedding months later, Bartelstein said. Other members of his new extended family held out even longer.
Ainge said he is trying to get ready for the NBA draft while still holding out hope that the season will be able to resume. If that has to happen without fans, he said: “It’s not as much fun. It’s not ideal. But it’s better than not playing,” he said, adding that he’s seen exciting games in college or high school gyms with just a few dozen fans. “I’ve been involved in practices where there are zero fans in the room, and it’s intense. It’s a battle. I think it’s not ideal, but I think it could work.”
Storyline: Season Suspension
Ainge also said that he and his family have been watching the ESPN documentary on Michael Jordan’s final season with the Chicago Bulls. Ainge made an appearance in the first episodes because he played golf with Jordan before a playoff game in which the Bulls star scored 63 points. But the former Celtics guard said it was all new to his family. “It was fun because they didn’t have too much recollection of it. When I tried to chime in and make a comment on what was happening, they gave me the hush,” Ainge said. “That was fun, to see how excited they were, and how little they knew of the era, and how little they knew about Michael. They were just intrigued by who he was.”
The Celtics weren’t able to assert themselves and play the tough, physical game they needed to neutralize the Lakers speed. Ainge recalls going to practice with Kevin McHale the next day and McHale saying the Celtics needed to get tough, and someone needed to take a hard foul. “I said ‘Kevin, I get booed in every arena because I take hard fouls,’” Ainge said. “I said ‘why don’t you foul somebody hard one time?'”
So McHale did. Down seven late in the game with the Lakers seemingly on their way to a commanding 3-1 series lead, McHale decided to stop a Lakers break by hammering Kurt Rambis with a clothesline. Benches emptied but McHale stayed in the game. The Celtics came back to win the game, and eventually, the series. The foul changed the momentum of the entire series because it lured the Lakers into a chippy final three games and away from their usual flashy style.
“The fact that it was Kevin who took Rambis down with a clothesline, in my opinion, I think was even way more exciting than if Larry had done it,” Ainge said. “And the fact that Kevin had done that, that was exciting for his teammates. That was inspirational play for us to see Kevin, like ‘wow, that’s what we’re talking about. You talked the talk now you did it.’ I loved that. That was one of my favorite Kevin plays ever.”
There was plenty about this arrangement that was odd. Danny Ainge and Michael Jordan knew each other, but had never spent time together and were hardly friends. Now, this meeting would somehow be arranged by a pair of writers. And, most stunningly, it was in the middle of a playoff series. “It was very, very rare,” Ainge said. “I don’t think I ever even met, or had dinner, or even a phone conversation with any other opponent in my whole career before a playoff game.”
Storyline: Michael Jordan Documentary
The golf outing was mentioned during Sunday’s broadcast of “The Last Dance,” ESPN’s 10-part documentary on Jordan’s Bulls. The golfing was mostly notable because Jordan followed it up by scoring 63 points in Chicago’s double-overtime Game 2 loss to the Celtics. In a phone interview Monday, Ainge recounted those secretive 36 holes at Framingham Country Club. “Michael was like me in that he didn’t want to really do other stuff that a lot of players did in those days,” Ainge said. “He just wanted to play golf. And you had so much time on your hands.”
Ainge said they played each hole for money, and that he won more than he lost. It was clear that Jordan, ever the competitor, was not thrilled about it. When the rounds ended, Ainge said, Jordan made it clear that he wanted to play again for a chance at redemption. He might even have wanted to keep playing that day. “I did beat him, and I did talk a little trash,” Ainge said. “I just remember it was a good time. He did say when I got dropped off, ‘Tell your boy D.J. I’ve got something for him tomorrow.’ Michael was so competitive. He really, really wanted to win.”
“I played 36 holes that day with Michael and it was a hot, sunny day,” Ainge said. “I dropped him off at the hotel and then I went home, showered, got dressed and went to this game. And I couldn’t believe how much energy he had after 36 holes in the hot sun. He was full-court pressuring and just dogging everybody. It was really impressive. His competitive drive is well documented, but his stamina was just insane.”
Storyline: Michael Jordan Documentary
Ainge recently was interviewed on ESPN’s “Hoop Streams” about acquiring Garnett and building that championship squad, and the Celtics president of basketball operations discussed what exactly led to KG joining Boston. “Well, KG was very polite letting me in his home,” Ainge said. “We talked about the possibility. I got permission from Minnesota to go talk to KG and see if we could talk him into doing the trade. He was very respectful and I think he was very interested. He had some friends that he counted on. Chauncey (Billups) and (Tyronn Lue) I think were two of those friends that he relied heavily on at that time. At first, before we made the trade for KG or before Ray, KG wasn’t sure we were good enough to win.
“And so I think he was waffling between us and I think the (Los Angeles) Lakers might’ve been involved and tried to get KG. So it wasn’t until we made that draft-day trade (for Allen). We actually made a trade for KG before, but because KG would not sign a contract extension, I wasn’t going to give up a lot of our young assets just to have KG for one year. So we went on and made a trade for Ray, and then we went back to Minnesota and back to KG, and we were able to work something out. And as the say, the rest is history.”
Ainge and the Celts have no choice but to put one foot in front of the other and move forward. “I try to get outside,” he said over the phone as he took in the fresh air. “The weather’s been pretty good. But I’ve been going into the office. I’ve been the only one that’s at the facility, and mostly just watching film and walking inclines on the treadmill and walking the back stairway and doing some exercise.”
Storyline: Season Suspension
Ainge, who was out scouting college tournaments in Las Vegas when the NCAA and NBA games were stopped, hasn’t been tested for the coronavirus. Actually, around the Celtics, just the players and a few support people have. But only Marcus Smart has tested positive, and all others are doing well and are practicing proper social distancing. “I feel great,” said Ainge, whose medical history includes two mild heart attacks — one in 2009 and another during last year’s playoffs. “I feel fine. There’s been no symptoms at all, so that’s good. And I haven’t had contact with anybody from our team since, like, March 1st or 2nd.”
“I’m in communication with people in the organization, including players, every day,” he said. “I think they’re doing really well. I mean, guys have their workouts. They’ve requested stationary bikes and weight and weight vests and bands so they can do all sorts of their workouts that our trainers are giving them. So, yeah, I think everybody’s following all of the rules, staying quarantined, and just keeping to themselves. It feels like, in my conversations with everybody, that they’re all doing well. They all seem pretty upbeat. I’m just trying to keep them motivated.”
“We just felt that Jayson had a chance to be a very, very good player that would fit well into our culture,” Ainge said. He wouldn’t comment on Fultz, but went on to praise Tatum. “What I love about Jayson is he is driven to become great. You can work on all sorts of technical things, but if a player doesn’t have that mental edge to become great—to have that determination of figuring out the things that you aren’t doing well—it’s not going to happen. And you know, Jayson has really high expectations of himself and really high goals for his life in basketball, and that’s what I appreciate the most.”
Ainge, appearing on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher and Rich” on Wednesday, said that he is still friendly with Allen, but while he “no longer holds any grudge against Allen […] that’s not the exact same feeling of everybody in the organization.” “We get along great,” Ainge said. “I’m a big, big fan of Ray. I’ll always be grateful to Ray for the championship that he gave us.”
After five seasons with the Celtics from 2007-12, Allen entered free agency and rejected a reported two-year, $12 million deal from the Celtics, instead accepting a three-year contract with the rival Miami Heat, where he won a championship in 2013. “These are not my decisions,” Ainge said. “So if someone asks my opinion on this, I’ll weigh in at the appropriate time. But this is [Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck]’s team and he gets to make those decisions.”
In the meantime, the Celtics made their pitch. “Danny Ainge flew in. He just got right to it, showed the vision,” Garnett said. “And the vision he was saying — you ever have somebody talking to you, and as they’re talking to you, you can see what they’re saying so much that you’re not even looking at him no more? Painting a picture, and that’s how he was painting it. This is Danny Ainge’s greatness, him being able to lure you in with his charming ass. Next thing you know he was finessing me.”
At the end of the day, Ainge didn’t want to make a deal just for the sake of it. He stood pat because no potential trade was strong enough for the Celtics to pull the trigger. “It’s very simple, there were no good deals to be made,” said Ainge. “You have to find a partner when you’re making a deal. You cant just say ‘I need to make this deal and do whatever it possibly takes to make it.’ That’s not how it works.