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Danny Ainge on all things Celtics, including trades

Posted By Ben Rohrbach On April 16, 2014 @ 9:13 pm In General | No Comments

Celtics [1] president of basketball operations Danny Ainge addressed the media before the final game of the regular season. Here’s a transcript of his press conference (with a few notes sprinkled in between).

On the season: “It was a long season — I guess not that long — but it was a tough, tough year, and I saw a lot of positive things from individuals. I thought our team gave good effort most nights. I think consistency was our biggest challenge, and I don’t think the team was a great fit, great mix, but individually I like what I saw in almost every player. I just feel like we didn’t have the size inside to protect the rim. I thought that was a big factor that cost us a lot of games. And we didn’t finish a lot of games down the stretch.”

(Notice Ainge liked what he saw from “almost every player.” One comes to mind. His name rhymes with Ref Mean.)

On the personnel: “I think we started the season out very concerned with the personnel. I thought Vitor [Faverani] gave us some size at times; his injury hurt us some there. He was a rookie and playing inconsistent, but showing signs of being a presence inside. I think all the way up the trade deadline we looked at opportunities to make our team better, but we wouldn’t sacrifice draft picks to make us better for just this year. But we look for opportunities to make our team better in the longterm.”

(Take note that Ainge offered the caveat of “just this year” in regard to trading draft picks.)

On Brad Stevens [2]: “I think Brad did a great job this year. He’s a special person and a great coach, and the players see it. The players see his work ethic, they see his integrity, and they see his intelligence, so I think he’s earned the respect of the team in a really difficult situation this year. And I know he’s going to get better. He’ll be better next year, and he’ll be better the next year. He’s a sponge, and he’s very intelligent with a great work ethic, and I couldn’t be happier. … I have no worries about Brad. Brad is maybe the only thing in this whole organization I’m not concerned about.”

(As for those “rumblings” that were reported recently, it doesn’t sound like the coach is going anywhere.)

On the future: “I don’t know. How does anybody know that? What do you want me to like make a prediction or something? I don’t know anything about what we can do. I’m hopeful. I’ll work my tail off to duplicate what we’ve done in the past, but there are no guarantees.”

(That “I don’t know anything about what we can do” is a little reality check, huh?)

On Kelly Olynyk: “I think Kelly had a really good second half. I think he gained some confidence when he went to the All-Star break and represented the rookie team. I think I’ve been really happy with how he’s improved. The coaches did a good job of getting him stronger, a good job of teaching him the game, and I think he’s a great, great player. It’s just like all young players. We say this every year. Consistency is the challenge, and Kelly has gotten more consistent as the year’s gone on. And if you get three really good games out of 10, that’s not bad for rookies. You hope he gets seven out of 10 good games as they progress, and I feel that Kelly will get more consistent just with experience.”

(“A great, great player” might be excessive, but you have to like what you’ve seen from Olynyk down the stretch.)

On Rajon Rondo [3]: “I think that Rajon will have the best year of his career next year. I think he’s sort of in a phase of his life where he’s matured. He’s just smarter, the game has slowed for him. I think he’ll be really healthy and fresher with a summer of strength. You sort of bypass the mental anguish from coming back from the knee surgery and the ACL, and that’s been sort of the pattern for guys in the past. The first 20-30 games is an adjustment period, so I’m confident he’ll have the best year of his career.”

(One key takeaway other than the obvious: Ainge made it a point to note Rondo’s maturation this year.)

On Jared Sullinger: “Sully had a good year this year. I think that he wants to be in better shape, and we talked about that all year. And I think that he can [be a totally different player next year]. … I think that Jared is still very young, and I don’t think he understands, yet, how good he is. He’s heard it. He’s heard it from a lot of people — his father, from his anent to his coaches — how good he can be. But until he believes how good he can be and really puts in the time — and I really do believe that Jared will this summer and is going to be in better shape next year.”

(Not holding any punches there. Sullinger’s minutes have suffered this season as a result of his conditioning.)

On free agents: “I’m not talking about free agents right now. I don’t know the answer to that. There’s not very many difference-makers in the free agent class right now. We also don’t know — there’s a lot of players with player options and team options, and so let’s wait and see who the free agent class is until we comment on it.”

(Read: If Carmelo Anthony doesn’t use his early termination option, then trades are the way to go.)

On Jeff Green [4]: “I think that this has been a transition year for us. I think Jeff had a good year. Jeff has been consistently a very good 3-point shooter and very good in transition offense throughout his whole career, and I think that he got even better at that this year and he got more versatile. He shot the ball over the 3-point line, he shot the 3 off the dribble, things that we wanted and we encouraged him to do to expand his game. He became more of a focal point of the offense, and he had his ups and downs with that, but I think his game is complete and I think that Jeff is improving as a player. I think he still has a lot of growth still left in his game, and I think he’s going to have a better year next year than he had this year.”

(Ainge is probably really hoping opposing general managers are reading this right now.)

On Avery Bradley [5]: “Avery had a good season. I’ve seen improvement in Avery this year, and the biggest issue with Avery has just been health. He plays hard, and he’s had some injuries, but none of them are injuries that should prevent him from becoming a great player.”

(And he’s probably hoping Bradley’s agent keeps that first part in mind during the negotiating process.)

On Rondo’s market: “Listen, there’s no one person that’s more important than the whole organization. We need to be good, because we all want to be good. I want my coach to stay, I want Jeff Green [4] to want to be here, I want free agents that are out there looking at us play to want to play here. I want fans to want to come to the game. Everybody wants to win, but not just for one player, not just for one person. We all want to win, and that’s what we are trying to accomplish.”

(Even Rajon Rondo [3] is tradable this summer. And that Jeff Green [4] line was a little strange, no?)

On offseason fireworks: “I think the Fourth of July we’ll have some fireworks. I don’t know. We’re hopeful. I have some ideas and some plans that I’d like to do, but there’s just no guarantee that we can do it. We need to find good trading partners. We always are trying to make fireworks every summer. We try to do something that’s unique and special, and we will definitely try this summer.”

(Well, that should make you feel a little better about the “I don’t know anything about what we can do” line earlier.)

On acquiring assets: “That depends on what else we can accomplish, what other options we have. I could see that possibly happening, acquiring more assets. I could see giving up our assets — our young assets and some draft picks — for players as well. And everything in between.”

(More draft picks! Less draft picks! Younger! Older! It’s all on the table.)


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URLs in this post:

[1] Celtics: http://audio.weei.com/basketball/boston-celtics.htm

[2] Brad Stevens: http://audio.weei.com/ncaa/coach-brad-stevens.htm

[3] Rajon Rondo: http://audio.weei.com/basketball/rajon-rondo.htm

[4] Jeff Green: http://audio.weei.com/basketball/jeff-green.htm

[5] Avery Bradley: http://audio.weei.com/basketball/avery-bradley.htm

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