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Ainge on The Big Show: ‘We Value Rondo More Than Anybody Else in the League’

06.26.09 at 3:32 pm ET
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Celtics Executive Director of Basketball Operations and General Manager Danny Ainge, in an interview on WEEI’s Big Show on Friday afternoon, clarified some of his recent comments about point guard Rajon Rondo earlier in the week. While Ainge has been portrayed as having been critical of Rondo during an interview on the Dennis & Callahan Show — in which the G.M. acknowledged that Rondo had been fined for the “unacceptable” act of having been late for practice during the playoff series against the Magic — he insisted that any concerns about the point guard’s behavior were isolated, and that the team has moved on from them.

“I think we value Rondo more than anybody else in the league values him and we know everything about him — all the good and the bad that comes with a 23-year-old kid who’s been put in a pressure kicker,” said Ainge. ” I don’t know if we said he had a bad attitude. I think he needs to mature, like we talked about. But I like Rondo’s attitude. I like Rondo’s competitive spirit. I think the kid, he’s late for a playoff game — we’re not going to condemn him for the rest of his life. We took care of it and it’s over…I’m amazed at how people want to take the little things and blow them out of proportion.”

Ainge also said once again that he does not plan — or want — to trade the 23-year-old.

“We never had any intention of trading Rondo — or Paul Pierce, or Kevin Garnett, or any of our core players, Ray Allen — unless something absolutely blows you away. It is my responsibility to listen and take calls and have discussions to see what those conversations may be,” added Ainge. “He’s going to get better. He’s going to get older, and get more experience. And he’s going to be a terrific point guard for the Celtics in the NBA for a long time.”

Below are some excerpts from the rest of the Ainge interview:

ON TRADE RUMORS

“I think we value Rondo more than anybody else in the league values him and we know everything about him — all the good and the bad that comes with a 23-year-old kid who’s been put in a pressure kicker in Boston. The kid has 40 playoff games under his belt, he’s got four Game 7s under his belt as a 23-year-old point guard. Rondo is not perfect. It seemed like the subject of the day a couple days ago was Rondo – it was not Paul Pierce or Ray Allen or Kendrick Perkins or anyone else – because of all the trade speculation, most of which was bogus.

It’s my job to listen and inquire as you get ready to possibly sign a player to a long-term contract or develop strategies within the organization, to really understand and know what the value is out there for a player…

We plan on having this core together, and we plan on adding a couple pieces through free agency, and maybe making smaller deals to make our bench stronger this year. That’s always been our main intention.

ON RONDO’S ATTITUDE

I was asked a question about him being late for a playoff game and I said, yeah, that kind of behavior is unacceptable. That just means you levee the fine and you move on. That has nothing to do with what we think of Rondo as a player.

He’s a very likable guy. He’s liked by his teammates. He gets moody sometimes, but so what?

Can I imagine trying to replace something that’s worked so well? Last year I thought that things were well in spite of some of the injuries we had and we won the championship the year before. Every team that wins and every team that loses, there’s always holes, there’s always things that aren’t perfect, and sometimes we let the Big Three get away with things because they’re such talented players, but they have weaknesses too. It seems like because of the trade rumors and because of the upcoming contract situation possibility, [Rondo] just seems to be the topic, and I should have known that. I don’t really think that I ripped Rondo by any stretch of the imagination, but I do think I should have known that maybe saying anything might have just fueled so much more fire. It seems like the things I said that were good about Rondo, those things just get ignored.

ON WHETHER HE HAS SPOKEN TO RONDO’S AGENT, BILL DUFFY:

Oh, no. I really don’t have any intention to, I’ve never even read the quote. I don’t really care. That’s an agent’s job, is to do everything they can to protect the image and player so I’m not even worried about any of that. That stuff bothers me not at all. Typically what happens is sometimes something is taken out of context and somebody reports looking for a response anyone, so I’m sure the whole story wasn’t, ‘should I rip Bill,’ but anyway, that stuff doesn’t mean anything to me.

ON WHETHER THE SPECULATION WAS DRIVEN BY THE MEDIA RUMOR MILL

I can never say to any player that ‘I will never trade you under any circumstance,’ and that might be a dangerous thing to say because then it’s ‘oh, he left an opening.’ But there’s a big difference, I mean, logically, with the age of our team, with the lack of athleticism you get as guys get older, if there’s one thing we need, it’s a young, vibrant, energetic, rebounding, loose-ball-getting, tempo-changing 23-year-old point guard with experience. So if there’s going to be a trade it better be soemthing unbelievably special and that’s where some of these rumors are silly and ludicrous, and I wish that people would just use their heads, use their mind and give us a little more credit when they consider trade rumors.

ON DEALING WITH PLAYERS WHOSE NAMES ARE IN THE RUMOR MILL

I’m honest with them. I tell them when things are real, I tell them when things are not. I tell them what are plans are and what our intentions and goals are and Itell them just like it is. If I did have intention of trading them, if there was something that were true in a rumor and they asked, I would tell them. I’m as honest with these players as I can [be]. I don’t tell them every single conversation I have because conversation means nothing adnso I’m jsut as honest as I can [be] with these players.

ON THE DRAFT IN GENERAL

First of all, nobody would draft the number five pick and let him stay over in Europe for two more years. I tihnk they would have gone a different direction had they known that.

ON KEVIN GARNETT

Kevin, it was amazing. His entire countenance over the last six weeks of the season, he was just kind of down and grumpy and uncomfortable. I think he felt pressure to try to come back and he had all this pain in his knee.

Right after the surgery – I mean three days after the surgery – a smile on his face, he can bend his knee all the way. He can straighten it out all the way. He just went back to the West Coast the other day. Before he left, I saw him doing full weight workouts. He was doing squats – one-legged squats, two-legged squats – he was doing most of his whole routine again. His spirit is returned: his enthusiasm for the upcoming season, his hope.

All of a sudden, he’s back to being the real Kevin Garnett. His personality has returned. You could just see that once he had that bone spur on the back of his knee, that that was really bothering him.

ON QUESTIONS ABOUT WHETHER GARNETT COULD HAVE RETURNED DURING THE PLAYOFFS

It’s just all talk. Everybody thinks they know, everybody hasa different view, and then everybody starts speculating on all sorts of conspiracy theories. You should have heard all the media trying to contact me. ‘What was going on?’ and ‘he’s got these secret ACL tears.’ One thing I would always say to the media is ‘think about the situation before you respond. I mean, if he had an ACL tear, why in the world would you ever not give surgery immediately? There’s so many things out there that people don’t think before they report.

He was not going to come back and play, most likely. The pain management– I mean, the fact that he came back and played before and played OK even though he wasn’t the real Kevin Garnett, he played OK. I think as an organization we were holding out hope that that might be the case, the he can give us 15 or 20 minutes, and, you know, maybe a Willis Reed-type surge for a couple of works and really that was just KG and the doctors, if he could do it. We were never putting pressure on him and he never anticipated or expected that to happen, but there was a tiny bit of hope that that might happen. In hindsight maybe we should have relieved Kevin of that pressure, but I do not think he was going to play against Cleveland or in the NBA Finals, not unless he just felt this surege and this adrenneline rush that was going to get him out there, but after the surgery he was so much better. He wasn’t healthy after the surgery, it’s going to take another couple months for him to be healthy enough to play basketball, but we’re very encouraged by the range of motion and strength that’s returned to his knee. On top of that, before the surgery he was really able to get strong– really, really strong– and I think that’s always helpful in your rehab from the surgery.

ON SHAQ TO THE CAVS:

I think that that’s a good pickup for Cleveland, especially since they didn’t really give up anything to get Shaq there, so how it all works will be everybody’s guess, if it’s going to make them that much better, but it doesn’t change our plans. We’ve had some plans on what we intend to do this summer for the last month or two, as we see weaknesses in our team and what we can do to improve from our core and build around them and improve our bench, and our plans have not changed any.

ON VINCE CARTER TO ORLANDO AND THE IMPROVING EAST:

It will be interestng to see, I mean they still don’t have Turkoglu signed, there’s speculation that he may go somewhere, so Vince Carter may have been insurance for Turkoglu. So we’ll see what the final product is. Vince Carter’s a very good player, it’s a good aquisiton. For the price they gave up to get Vince Carter it’s a good risk. Even though Courtney Lee was really becomming a good player, he had a fantastic rookie year, and usually guys come back after a fantastic rookie year with a teriffic second year. So it’s not like theydidn’t give anything up, but Courtney Lee still probably isn’t Vince Carter. Courtney is a much better defender than Vince but Vince is more of a dynamic scorer. So I think it’s a good trade for Orlando.

Washington is the team I think that’s probably improved themselves the most with Mike Miller, Randy Foye, and of course Gilbert Arenas and Brendan Haywood coming back healthy. They’ll be a real force in the East as well.

D.J. Bean contributed to this report.

Read More: Danny Ainge, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo,

A temporary sigh of relief for Ainge

06.26.09 at 2:09 am ET
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If it were up to Danny Ainge, he would have spent the past month quietly preparing for the NBA Draft. Instead, the Celtics GM has been battling questions, trade rumors and speculations.

After midnight on Friday morning, a weary Ainge addressed the media. It was more than just the end of Draft Night. For Ainge, it was a temporary sigh of relief.

“I think there’s so much competition in the media for any new story and something exciting, and so it does get old from my perspective of having to answer so many [questions],” he said via teleconference following the draft. “We’re just sitting in there doing very boring work, watching videotape all day, and everyone else is out there making up stories and making up rumors. We’re just trying to get ready to draft the 58th pick and get ready for all of the options that may come our way.”

Without a first-round pick in this year’s draft, talks had been centered around the possibility of trading up. Starters Ray Allen, Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo had all been mentioned in rumors to snag a lottery pick. Many left Ainge baffled.

“There was many rumors that had my head scratching a little bit,” he said. “Most of them are either made up or completely distorted or three weeks late.”

As it turns out, the Celtics did not come close to trading up to the first round. While they had conversations about moving up in the second round, Ainge said he is “grateful” Lester Hudson was still available at the 58th spot.

While tired of dispelling rumors, Ainge did address a hot topic of conversation — his recent interview on WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan Show in which he revealed the Celtics had fined Rondo for tardiness and said he did not believe the point guard is a max contract player right now. Those comments sparked further trade speculation.

“We’re not trading Rondo,” Ainge attested. “We love Rondo. We always have. We love him more today than the day we drafted him. He’s not perfect and he’s a young player that needs to get better. And we don’t like it when you’re late.”

Now that the draft is over and lottery pick rumors have been put to rest, Ainge can get back to business. Next up is free agency and building a team for the Orlando Summer League in July.

“It’s good to be over and now I’m sure we’ll get questions and answers about all of the trades possibilities and free agents and all those kinds of rumors,” Ainge said. “So that’s not a fun part of the job, but it’s part of the job.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, Rajon Rondo,

Danny: We’re not trading Rondo

06.26.09 at 12:43 am ET
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Danny Ainge just spoke to the press on a post-draft conference call and reaffirmed his affection for point guard Rajon Rondo.

“We’re not trading Rondo,” Ainge said. “We love Rondo. We always have. He’s not perfect. He’s a young player that has to get better. We just don’t like it when you’re late.”

Read More: Danny Ainge, Rajon Rondo,

With the 58th pick

06.25.09 at 11:58 pm ET
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The Celtics have made their selection and they have chosen Lester Hudson a guard from Tennessee-Martin. Hudson has an intriguing backstory. A scoring machine at UTM, Hudson is 24 years old, which dropped his draft stock. More on the pick coming later this evening.

Read More: NBA Draft. Celtics,

Rubio to stay in Spain?

06.25.09 at 11:50 pm ET
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Leading up the Draft Night there was chatter of Ricky Rubio’s preference to play in a big market. Minnesota certainly isn’t one, and now the flashy point guard may return to Spain.

Rubio’s father, Esteve, told the MARCA.com in Spanish, “With this pick, it is possible that Ricky will play a year or two more in Europe.”

He added, “He can still go, he can stay a year … and until two. Everything is open, although the most probable is continuing in Europe for some time. We have to talk with the people in Minnesota … and to see what happens, because, at this time, we can be in Minnesota or in another place.”

The Timberwolves selected Rubio with the fifth overall pick in Thursday’s draft. They took another point guard, Jonny Flynn, with the following pick.

Rubio noted on his Twitter page, “Ser el #5 del draft es increíble. ¡Estoy muy contento! Be the 5th pick in the NBA draft is incredible. ¡I’m very happy!”

Read More: Minnesota Timberwolves, NBA, Ricky Rubio,

Blogging the draft: DeJuan Blair (finally)

06.25.09 at 11:01 pm ET
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Leave it to the Spurs to take the most productive college player this side of top pick Blake Griffin (and in the second round, no less). With the 37th pick, San Antonio selected Pitt’s DeJuan Blair who was merely the best player in the Big East and who dominated No. 2 overall pick Hasheem Thabeet in their matchups.

Blair’s knees gave teams cause for concern, but he never should have fallen this far.

Two other Big East players–DaJuan Summers from Georgetown (Detroit) and Sam Young from Pitt (Memphis)–went just ahead of Blair. Summers also seems like a steal, while Young is one of the oldest players in the draft.

The Celtics pick is No. 58 and we’ll have more when they make their selection.

Read More: NBA Draft,

Blogging the draft: Rest of the first round

06.25.09 at 10:24 pm ET
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– Jrue Holiday was the highest-rated player left in the Green Room, but the UCLA product may have found a perfect fit with Philly, who took him at No. 17. Holiday isn’t ready to step in and start, but Andre Miller is an unrestricted free agent and Holliday may get a chance to be in the rotation and eventually take over if he develops.

– Speaking of great fits, Ty Lawson couldn’t have asked for a better spot then Denver where he will get a chance to learn from Chauncey Billups and run the second team with JR Smith.

– Austin Daye, son of ex-Celtic Darren Daye, could have been a top five pick if he had gone back to Gonzaga and developed his game. The Pistons did well to get him at 15.

– DeJuan Blair will make a lot of teams look silly for passing on him. The kid was a dominant force at Pitt. Yes, he’s undersized from a height standpoint, but he’s incredibly strong and his production was off the charts. The Bulls went with two bigs–James Johnson and Taj Gibson and I’d be surprised if either wind up as good as Blair.

– Wayne Ellington at No. 28? Sorry, Jay Bilas. Too high. (By the way, is there any pick the ESPN panel doesn’t like?)

– Free Darko? Mr. Millic might have actually found a home in New York.

– Did Stu Scott really call Shaq the best passing big man in the league? Oy.

Read More: NBA Draft,
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