Danny Ainge on Big Show: ‘I like this team much better’
|12.23.10 at 5:11 pm ET|
Celtics president Danny Ainge joined The Big Show for his weekly Thursday appearance and noted that he doesn’t think this season’s Celtics team will have the same kind of letdown as last season’s squad.
“I think this just a better team,” Ainge said. “I like this team much better. I like the depth better. I feel more more confident in this team and what we’re capable of doing. Last year we came very close. I feel like us at all positions. We’re playing now without Delonte [West] and Rajon [Rondo], which makes it very difficult, and we’re still finding ways to win.”
The key for Ainge is that injuries haven’t affected Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett as they did last season.
“I think last year’s regular season, we didn’t play with a lot of resolve, but we also had more injuries to more key players,” Ainge said. “Paul and KG weren’t near the same and both of those guys are having great years.”
Here are more highlights from the interview:
On the team’s 14-game winning streak:
I think it’s been very impressive. Our schedule hasn’t been crazy tough, but because of the injuries it’s been difficult. From day to day we’re not sure who we have playing at the center position and then Rondo’s been banged up for quite a while. He played some games at far less than 100 percent. The good news is Paul, KG, Ray [Allen]and Glen Davis have all been healthy and they’re all having fantastic years.
On Rajon Rondo’s development:
The credit almost always goes to the player. The first time I ever saw Rajon play, he was spectacular. He’s had a lot to learn about becoming more of a leader, a teammate, and learning the system that Doc [Rivers] is implimenting and learning to co-exist with other players and maturing, all those kinds of things. Rondo is a terrific talent and he’s a very, very gifted athlete as we all know.
On the first time he saw Rondo play:
The first time I saw him was in high school. I actually went to watch Josh Smith play, who was a hotshot at Oak Hill Academy. My eyes got on Rondo and it was pretty tough to take them off. Josh was pretty spectacular in his own right. Rajon was what he is today, spectacular passer, rebounder, huge hands, long arms, great instincts stealing the ball doing a lot of the things that we see today.
On why Rondo didn’t make the U.S. National team last summer:
I think Rajon really didn’t want to do it. He was pretty tired after the end of the NBA finals and he needed some rest. He’s not a real attention seeker and I don’t think he wanted to play for the US team. They came back to him again and he said he really didn’t want to do it, and they came back again and he finally relented. They got it down to 13 players, I think he sort of volunteered to be the guy to not do it. I just don’t think it’s a dream, a passion of his to play on the US team. I don’t think there was any more to it than that.
On Kendrick Perkins, and his possible return:
I don’t like to put timetable on injury returns. He’s doing great. We’ve been saying at the end of the All-Star break. I think Perk’s mind is determined to come back sooner. We’ll just see how it goes. He’s been approved to get back on the court., run through our offensive sets. he does a lot of shooting. He’s in the gym twice a day. He wanted to beat Wes Welker’s return. He’s just such a great kid and he’s working really hard to come back.
On Orlando’s trades:
They have had great success in the playoffs and they had some failures in the playoffs, but they were a great team before the trade In my opinion they were a great team that was struggling. It’s up to them, the coach and the general manager to determine if they have what it takes.
Rashard Lewis has given us a lot of problems in the past, as had Vince Carter at times. [Marcin] Gortat was a guy that gave us problems and [Mickael] Pietrus, all four of those guys that they got rid of have given us problems in the past. We certainly have a great deal of respect for the old Orlando team. I don’t know what’s going to happen with this new Orlando team. On paper they’re still a great basketball team. I just don’t know what to expect as nobody does yet. I know that they were a great team before the trade and let’s hope that they’re not as good after the trade.
On the Miami Heat:
Miami is getting better all the time and they’re going to be better as the season goes along. They’re not going to be a team that gets worn down. They’re best players are in the prime of their careers. They’re going to have some ups and downs like all teams do during the regular season. I think we had an advantage earlier in the year. I just hope that we continue to get healthier and we’re going to need all forces to deal with them in the playoffs.