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Transcript: Danny Ainge on D&C

06.24.09 at 11:22 am ET
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Celtics G.M. Danny Ainge was interviewed on the Dennis & Callahan Show this morning and offered some detail on the team’s plans for and concerns about Rajon Rondo, Thursday night’s draft, and the possibility of acquiring a superstar such as LeBron James or Dwyane Wade following next season. Among the highlights:

–Ainge suggested that Rondo’s shortcomings as a shooter hurt the Celtics in the series against the Magic, and that he is not yet worthy of the max contract that he seeks.
–Rondo was fined for “unacceptable” failures to show up on time.
–The Celtics are not looking to trade Rondo.
–Ainge does not expect the Celtics to make a splash in this year’s draft.
–The Celtics have positioned themselves to be able to make a run at superstars in next year’s free-agent class, though the most likely route for such a move would be through a sign-and-trade.

Here is a transcript of most of the conversation:

Why does Rondo’€™s name appear in trade rumors every 10 minutes?

The media around the league kind of looks at things that make sense. They try to make up things because they think that Rondo’€™s contract is coming up, Ray Allen is an expiring contract, so they put things together and try to come up with trade rumors.

Do Rondo and Perkins help you win now, with the Big Three, and down the road?

I think they do. I think that makes a lot of sense. I think a lot of guys look at young players, as the weak link. Kendrick this year was not a weak link. He did a great job against Dwight Howard.
The way that they were defending us, it was hard for the three superstars’€¦
Rondo, as we saw in the Orlando series, they left him wide open. His presence hurt us in winning right now. His man left him and doubled Ray or Paul.
It made it difficult for us.
They’€™re young players. They help us win sometimes and they make it harder for us to win sometimes because of their youth and inexperience. They’€™re good players. They’€™re not great players. We’€™re hoping they develop into great players.

Is Rondo worthy of being a max contract guy?

Not right now, I don’€™t think that Rondo’€™s a max contract player. I think it’€™s a good goal for Rondo to have from a monetary standpoint, to be that kind of player that warrants a max-contract player. I certainly don’€™t see Rondo as a max contract player today.

What is his contract status?

You know what his situation is. He can be extended after July 31 up until October 31. We have until October 31 to decide whether to extend him. If that doesn’€™t happen by October 31, then after next season, he would become a restricted free agent where we can match any offer that he gets.

Would this be taking a chance that he could leave in two years and you’€™d get nothing for him?

It depends. I guess it depends on where we are as a team. We love Rondo. Rondo is  a player we want to have on our team and he’€™s a guy we want to move forward with. We would never want him to just go away (without compensation). Next summer is probably a summer where we’€™ll have to come to some financial decisions on Rondo, if we don’€™t come to a conclusion this summer.

Some think you should do anything to put yourself in financial position to bring Dwyane Wade or LeBron James to Boston. Is that on your radar screen?

It’€™s something we’€™ve discussed, and it’€™s something we’€™ve actually set ourselves up for, to have an opportunity to think along those lines. This year, it’€™s a tough call because we’€™re trying to win now. If we try to improve our team this summer, it could prevent us from having an opportunity to be in the stakes for a big superstar in 2010 unless it’€™s through a sign-and-trade. A sign-and-trade might be a more viable way to get him than through cap space.
You’€™re at a disadvantage with cap space because you can’€™t pay them within $30 million of what their team that they’€™re currently with can pay them, and you can’€™t pay them the length of the contract for the same amount of years. So it’€™s better and more likely to get a superstar free agent, in most cases, through sign-and-trades.

That’€™s probably our best opportunity. You also have to be an attractive team, and a team that has some value. You can’€™t just have the money. You have to have other players that will allow that player to win. With KG and Paul and the contracts that reamin going forward, that may be the attraction. We may not have enough money, but if you have some assets to trade for that superstar, that may be your best opportunity.

How do you assess the chances of acquiring LeBron or Wade?

There’€™s no way, other than try to figure out what would be in a player’€™s mind ‘€“ a 25-year-old superstar ‘€“ of what he’€™s trying to accomplish. I really believe that players do want to win. I believe their contracts will be important, and they will all demand max contracts. That’€™s a given. But I also think that they want to win. Who they play with, all those are factors.

Can you ever imagine Cleveland doing a sign-and-trade with LeBron?

At some point, you have to make that call ‘€“ let him go away, or get something in return…I don’€™t know the answer to that. Maybe you say that in no circumstance will we ever sign-and-trade him just for the fact that we never want to be the ones to traded him. That’€™s a possibility.

When would guys in that class ‘€“ LeBron, Wade, Bosh ‘€“ when would those guys be moved if they make clear they won’€™t extend with current clubs?

It would be after next year. Those would happen after next year. I’€™m sure they would explore every opportunity to keep them…A lot of those guys may sign this summer…I still believe the most likely scenario with all these superstars that they stay with their teams.

On the idea that Rondo was sitting in his car and late to practice:

There was just a couple of situations where Rajon was late. I don’€™t know if he was sitting in his car, but he showed up late and the rest of the team was there, and he was late. There are team rules in place and he said he was in traffic. That was unacceptable.

How does maturity impact whether Rondo is a max contract player?

He’€™s got to grow up in some cases. I think he is, too. Rondo has started to mature and control his emotions. He’€™s responding in a more positive way as he gets older in the league. We certainly would not trade him because of those things. We really need him as our point guard to be a leader than someone who thinks more of himself at times.

On whether Doc Rivers is involved in offseason decision-making:

I talk to Doc constantly on these things and if we both agree, it’€™s a great situation. Doc and I will talk about coaching a lot. I know hoe coaches are and the stress that they go through being in the fire. And it’€™s my job to let things go and heal up to the point where he and I agree.

Is Rivers frustrated with Rondo?

He has not been, no. He’€™s gotten frustrated here and there. Doc understands that talent wins. He [Rondo] is a very talented player. But, he’€™s got some holes in his game that he’€™s working on. If Doc might be frustrated I’€™ll throw out these hypothetical trades, like ‘€˜Would you rather have this guy?’€™ If Doc says, ‘€˜No, no, no,’€™ then I gauge it by that. Sometimes it’€™s just frustration, but we won’€™t trade a player unless he’€™s really disruptive, and Rondo is not a disruptive force on our team. He’€™s a dynamic player and we love the kid. We’€™re not looking to trade Rondo because he was late for a playoff game or because he’€™s got some growing up to do. Some of our 30-year-old players have growing up to do as well. I think that there’€™s a lot of speculation that Rondo’€™s expecting a contract. He was late for playoff games and he didn’€™t play well in the Orlando series. I think a lot of people are making something out of nothing that’€™s really there.

Is Rondo one of the top handful of point guards in the game?

I think he’€™s in the conversation. I’€™d say he’€™s in the top ten for sure. We haven’€™t really sat down and analyzed. There are so many facets to the game. Rondo’€™s a terrific player but everybody talks about his shooting. I’€™ve talked about this ever since we got him, what I need from Rondo is to compete play in, play out more often. The shooting is a factor. He will become a much greater player if he can make more shots and become more confident. I need that competitiveness in him. I know he’€™s a competitor at an unbelievable level at times. He’€™s in cruise control on too many possessions for my liking. He’€™s getting better at that and improving all the time.

On draft-night plans for the Celtics:

It looks like it’€™s going to be a very boring night for us.

Some project as many as eight point guards as lottery picks. Of those, how many will be good NBA point guards?

I think that the kid (Tyreke) Evans from Memphis has a chance to be a special player. I think he can be good next year. I don’€™t know if he can be good in November, but I think that kid, with opportunity, is going to be good.
I think Stephon Curry is a great shooter. Bobby Knight called it. He can really play. I think he has a chance to step in and be a good player in the NBA next year.
Russell Westbrook had a great rookie year last year. He never really played point guard in college. Curry, Flynn ‘€“ Johnny Flynn, physically, has the ability to be a great player.
Those are the ones, I think, that have a chance to have a great impact next year.

What about Ricky Rubio?

I don’€™t see Rubio being that dynamic player now. I think he’€™s got a lot of potential. He’€™s a very flashy player. He has a great mind for the game, and he’€™s a terrific passer. I don’€™t see him, just physically, and because he doesn’€™t shoot the ball very well, I don’€™t see him having an impact as a rookie. I think he’€™s more of a project ‘€“ a build-around franchise point guard ‘€“ so I would put him down there below those other guys.

Is point guard the toughest position in the NBA to learn?

I think it depends on how you’€™re utilized. It’€™s nowhere near a quarterback…I don’€™t think it’€™s that complicated. It’€™s basketball.
Point guards are not, in my opinion, I think that’€™s much, much too talked about. Some guys are natural at it, some guys aren’€™t.

Can you win without a good point guard?

I know we won two championships without a point guard. I know the Lakers…Derek Fisher‘€™s no point guard in the traditional sense.
The Bulls when they won their championships didn’€™t have a point guard. You need good basketball players.

Have you thought about offering Kevin McHale a job?

Kevin and I are very close. We keep in contact all the time. I think Kevin’€™s probably going to end up on TV. We don’€™t have jobs to offer him. I like my staff and all that. But for the last 10 or 15 years, Kevin and I have talked about working together at some point. Right now is not the time. But I’€™m a big fan of Kevin’€™s as a person. High character guy. I value his basketball insight.

I don’€™t think Kevin left Minnesota in a bad position at all’€¦The bottom line is that the last two years they had Kevin they were in the lottery, and they had a high payroll. So I think they were in a position where they needed to do something. At least they didn’€™t do a Pau Gasol trade where they got nothing in return. Did you guys see that Richard Jefferson trade yesterday? Holy cow. San Antonio, they send all the bad contracts away and they get an All-Star caliber player. The Lakers are sweating. That’€™s a great acquisition for San Antonio.

Will draft parties in Boston be incredibly lame?

The draft party is going to be fun if you’€™re an NBA fan. If you’€™re a Celtics fan alone, there’€™s not going to be a lot of excitement.

Read More: Chris Bosh, Danny Ainge, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James

Wiz make a move

06.24.09 at 10:01 am ET
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Ever since the Draft Lottery was held the word was that the Washington Wizards would try to move the fifth pick in Thursday’s draft for veteran help and they pulled the trigger last night getting Randy Foye and Mike Miller from Minnesota for Etan Thomas, Darius Songalia, Oleksiy Pecherov and the pick. (ESPN is reporting that there are some procedural things to work out regarding Thomas and his early-termination option for the deal to be official).

The trade accomplishes two things. First, it makes the Timberwolves a major player in the draft now that they have the fifth and sixth picks in the lottery and two more –18 and 28–later in the first round. Already talk is that the T-Wolves will try to leverage all those picks to move up and get Ricky Rubio.

More importantly from the Celtics perspective and the rest of the Eastern Conference, the trade makes the Wizards a playoff contender again. Shooting has long been Washington’s problem and Miller and Foye will go a long way toward curing the issue. Foye also gives the Wizards some protection if Gilbert Arenas is not 100 percent. Foye isn’t really a point guard but he’s a lot better than what Washington had last year when Agent Zero was on the shelf.

While this doesn’t put the Wizards into the Celtics/Magic/Cavs tier of top contenders it does put them right in the mix of teams just below that range and if everyone stays healthy (a big if) maybe even a little better than that.

Ainge: Celtics fined Rondo

06.24.09 at 9:56 am ET
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The Celtics may ‘€œlove’€ Rajon Rondo, but that does not mean he is immune from being held accountable. On Wednesday, Celtics General Manager Danny Ainge revealed on WEEI’€™s Dennis & Callahan Show Rondo had been fined for being late to games last season. Ainge deemed the tardiness ‘€œunacceptable.’€

Rondo showed up an hour before gametime during the playoffs this season. He explained his late arrival last week on WEEI and chalked it up to a pregame routine.

‘€œPeople are going to make assumptions, everyone has opinions. I actually do try to come to games as late as possible because I don’€™t like to go in the locker room and talk and waste time…Different guys have different opinions on why they like to get to the game so early,’€ he said. ‘€œSome people may look at it as late but I look at it as just coming to play.’€

Regardless of his explanation, Ainge insists that team rules are rules.

“There was just a couple of situations where Rajon was late,” Ainge said. “I don’€™t know if he was sitting in his car, but he showed up late and the rest of the team was there, and he was late. There are team rules in place and he said he was in traffic. That was unacceptable.”

This offseason Rondo has been linked in nearly every Celtics trade rumor. The Celtics have until October to decide whether or not to extend his contract.

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

Celtics Impact: Bucks-Spurs Trade

06.23.09 at 8:15 pm ET
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On Tuesday ESPN reported the Milwaukee Bucks agreed to trade Richard Jefferson to the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for Bruce Bowen, Fabricio Oberto, and Kurt Thomas.

So what does this mean for the Boston Celtics?

The Spurs are back as a threat in the West.

After owning the Celtics for the majority of the Tim Duncan era, the Spurs have been susceptible to the Cs over the past three seasons. Now they have re-established themselves as legitimate title contenders in the Western Conference.

The acquisition of Jefferson gives the Spurs an offensive weapon on the perimeter to compliment the frontcourt/backcourt tandem of Duncan and Tony Parker. Last season Michael Finley started at the small forward position in two games against the Celtics, in which he averaged just seven points (23% FG). Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Bruce Bowen, Richard Jefferson,

What Ainge Said

06.23.09 at 2:50 pm ET
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WALTHAM – From the future of his starting point guard to the depth of Thursday night’s NBA Draft to his hopes for another title run in 2010, Celtics GM Danny Ainge hit on a number of topics on Tuesday in a pre-draft briefing with reporters at the team’s training facility at the Sports Authority complex in Waltham.

Here are the highlights: (click on the green for the audio)

First on the future of Rajon Rondo: “He showed up late for a playoff game so we’re going to trade him. None of those things is true. We love the kid and we think he’s got a very bright future. I don’t anticipate any trades happening this offseason involving any of our core players.”

“The notion that we might be trading him for some reason other than we think that we could be better or trading any player because of some reason (like) his contract,” Ainge said. “I’ve heard speculation of we’re dissatisfied with him or his attitude. That stuff is so false.”

This is still a championship caliber team: “We’ve won 128 games in the last two years. We won 66 games the year before and the championship and then this year we won 62 and had major injuries. So, I think we’re crazy (n0t to think we can’t win). We’re a championship contender for sure the last two years and we feel like we’ll be better this year. We’ll have a better team on the court.

On Kevin Garnett, who is currently in California and how his progress is going following surgery to remove bone spurs: Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Danny Ainge, Rajon Rondo Celtics,

Ainge: We’ve had discussions

06.23.09 at 10:20 am ET
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WALTHAM – Danny Ainge has heard all the same rumors that everyone else has about the future of Rajon Rondo.

Only he, as Vice President of Basketball Operations for the Celtics is actually in a position of authority to comment on it and take action.

Ainge will gladly do the first part but as for the second part, don’t expect Rondo to be headed out the door anytime soon.

“The notion that we might be trading him because of some reason other than we think we could be better, or trading any other player of some reason, his contract situation,” Ainge said Tuesday morning at Healthpoint in Waltham. “I’ve heard speculation that we’re dissatisfied with him or his attitude. That stuff is so false.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Celtics, Danny Ainge, Rajon Rondo,

Report: Celtics offered Allen, Rondo to Pistons

06.23.09 at 12:51 am ET
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Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports has reported the Boston Celtics offered Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo to the Detroit Pistons in a package deal that included Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, and Rodney Stuckey. According to Wojnarowski, the deal was proposed by a lower-level Celtics executive last weekend and was rejected by the Pistons before the conversations escalated to a discussion between general managers Danny Ainge and Joe Dumars.

“This isn’€™t an uncommon occurrence for a GM like Ainge to dispatch an underling to make that kind of a call, if for no other reason to give the top executive some level of deniability that he’€™s shopping his stars,” Wojnarowski wrote.

Both Allen and Rondo have been mentioned in nearly every Celtics trade rumor this offseason, largely because of their contracts. Allen is entering the final season of his deal while the Cs have to decide whether or not to extend Rondo’s contract by this October. Rondo recently told WEEI he does not expect to be traded this summer.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen,
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