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Danny Ainge talks Dwight Howard, NBA free agency 07.01.13 at 9:56 pm ET
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Paul PIerce and the Celtics ran circles around the Lakers Thursday night. (AP)

Paul PIerce and the Celtics ran circles around the Lakers Thursday night. (AP)

While Danny Ainge told reporters in Mattapan that “free agency right now is not a priority for us,” the Celtics president of basketball operations inquired about free agent Lakers center Dwight Howard.

Ainge reportedly put a call in to gauge Howard’s interest in a sign-and-trade involving the C’s bitter rivals, but Howard’s representatives said, “No,” according to The Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn.

During a press conference introducing 7-foot rookies Kelly Olynyk and Colton Iverson, Ainge announced he is more interested in “cleaning up” the roster than lobbying a list of free agents that includes Howard, Josh Smith, Tyreke Evans and Monta Ellis.

Still, Ainge reiterated his stance on Rajon Rondo: The three-time All-Star point guard is a centerpiece worth building around, and the Celtics aren’t actively seeking a trade for him. That’s not to say they won’t pick up the phone when other teams inquire about Rondo, Brandon Bass, Jeff Green, Courtney Lee, Jared Sullinger and everybody else, including Olynyk — just as Howard’s agents answered Ainge’s call.

“Maybe the assumption is that we’ll give away any of our players,” Ainge told reporters from the Boston Center for Youth & Families Mildred Avenue Community Center. “There has been calls for all those guys, and maybe the assumption is we’re just changing everybody, but we’re not. We’re starting to get younger.”

Considering the departure of coach Doc Rivers and the pending trade of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to the Nets on July 12, the Celtics appear to be sinking deeper and deeper toward the 2014 NBA draft lottery, but Ainge assured Washburn, “We are not tanking. That’s ridiculous. This is the Boston Celtics.”

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Celtics waive Terrence Williams on eve of free agency 06.30.13 at 4:55 pm ET
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Terrence Williams (55) played 24 games for the Celtics this past season. (AP)

Terrence Williams (55) played 24 games for the Celtics this past season. (AP)

Less than 24 hours before the NBA’s free agency period begins, the Celtics waived wing Terrence Williams on Sunday, just two days after the Chinese Basketball Association import’s 26th birthday.

Williams averaged 4.6 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 13.3 minutes over 24 games since his signing in mid-February. After consecutive 10-day contracts, the C’s signed him for the remainder of the season with a non-guaranteed minimum contract for 2013-14.

The Celtics saved $200,000 that would have become guaranteed had Williams been on the roster at midnight. His arrest last month on gun charges that are still under investigation probably didn’t help matters.

After stints on the Nets, Rockets and Kings from 2009-12, Williams played for the Guangdong Southern Tigers in China this past winter before joining the injury-riddled Celtics for the stretch run.

In five playoff appearances, Williams made little impact, playing mostly as a 6-foot-6 backup point guard to Rajon Rondo.

Once the trade of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry becomes official on July 12, Rondo and expected starting 2-guard Avery Bradley are the only current players on the roster capable of playing the point. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has plenty of priorities this summer, and backup point guard has to be one of them.

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Celtics trade up for Gonzaga center Kelly Olynyk 06.27.13 at 9:04 pm ET
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Kelly Olynyk

Kelly Olynyk

The Celtics traded the No. 16 pick and two future second-round selections to the Mavericks for the right to pick Gonzaga 7-foot center Kelly Olynyk.

Olynyk, 22, who worked out with the C’s in Waltham on Sunday, averaged 17.8 points and 7.3 rebounds as a junior for the Bulldogs last season. The British Columbia native shot 62.9 percent from the field.

Little known fact about Olynyk: He has short arms. Check out WEEI.com’s draft profile here.

The Celtics will send two second-round picks in 2014 — their own and the Nets second-rounder from the MarShon Brooks and JaJuan Johnson swap in 2011 — to the Mavericks in exchange for Olynyk.

According to reports, the Mavericks then traded the C’s original No. 16 pick to the Hawks, who took Brazilian center Lucas Nogueira.

Meanwhile, the Celtics also traded into the second round, acquiring Indiana’s No. 53 pick and selecting Colorado State 7-footer Colton Iverson, who averaged 14.2 points and 9.8 rebounds as a senior last season.

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2013 NBA Mock Draft 06.27.13 at 5:03 pm ET
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After a fortnight of Doc Rivers talk, believe it or not, the NBA draft is Thursday night. When you wake up Friday, the entire Celtics roster could be traded, but for now we’ll take a stab at how the 2013 edition of the league’s most unintentionally comical night might unfold.

Cleveland Cavaliers1. Cavaliers: Nerlens Noel (Kentucky). Despite a knee injury early in his freshman season that’s the latest in what is a concerning injury history for a 19-year-old, the 7-foot center and Everett, Mass., product is the best player on the board in a draft without superstars. Still developing offensively, he’s an elite shot blocker.

Orlando Magic2. Magic: Ben McLemore (Kansas). Already facing questions about a few rumored poor workouts and his relationship with an agent prior to leaving college, the 20-year-old shooting guard can still shoot the lights out.

Washington Wizards3. Wizards: Otto Porter (Georgetown). Considered “a sure thing” by many as a big body (6-9) on the wing, the 20-year-old’s Washington D.C. ties make too much sense here.

Charlotte Bobcats4. Bobcats: Victor Oladipo (Indiana). A 6-foot-4 shooting guard who isn’t considered a great shooter, the 21-year-old is lauded for his leadership, freak athletic ability and defensive skills.

Phoenix Suns5. Suns: Anthony Bennett (UNLV): The Suns need help just about everywhere, so why not begin with a 6-foot-8 20-year-old forward who can hurt you inside and out?

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Fact or fiction: Doc Rivers’ odd call to Boston media 06.26.13 at 8:41 pm ET
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So much for Doc Rivers not disputing Danny Ainge‘s take on the former Celtics coach’s departure to the Clippers. Two hours after telling the media in Los Angeles the only reason he’s coaching “is to win titles,” Rivers spun around in circles on a lengthy teleconference with reporters in Boston.

While Rivers should be lauded for his willingness to discuss his professional life and a decision he had every right to make — even interrupting the Clippers public relations staff when they tried to stop the call with “two more questions” — the 27-minute interview can only be described as confusing after Ainge and Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck shared similar opinions the last 24 hours about how it all went down.

So, let’s try to separate fact from fiction one quote at a time (thoughts in italics).

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Doc Rivers: Winning titles is ‘only reason I’m coaching’ 06.26.13 at 3:39 pm ET
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Doc Rivers has Clippers fever!

Doc Rivers has Clippers fever!

As the Clippers introduced new vice president of basketball operations and coach Doc Rivers, he sat stone-faced for most of the press conference, offering no objection to former Celtics colleague Danny Ainge‘s version of events the past two weeks.

“Quite honestly,” said Rivers from L.A., “at this point in my life, that’s the only reason I’m coaching — is to try and win titles.”

After watching him coach in Boston for nine seasons, it was strange hearing Rivers using “we” and “us” when referencing the Clippers, but clearly he’s moved on from a team he no longer believed to be a contender. As C’s owner Wyc Grousbeck said Wednesday morning, “I don’t think he wanted to rebuild with us; I think he wanted to make his win-loss record better.”

Over the past 24 hours, Ainge and Grousbeck both stated their desire for Rivers to fulfill the three years remaining on his coaching contract in Boston, and Rivers never actually disputed their claims, although he deflected a bit.

“After the year, I had no plans of leaving and didn’t give it a lot of thought, honestly,” said Rivers. “After every year — and Danny knows me as well as anyone — I put everything I can into a season, and then, if you ask me immediately after the season, I’m not coming back. I’m going home. I’m just burnt out. I’m tired.

“This lasted a little longer, and so when Danny and I talked, I told him I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, and we just basically sat around as a team and talked about what’s the best way at that time to improve the Celtics, and we went into talking about different scenarios. A couple other teams came up, and Danny talked about assets — me and Kevin Garnett at the time — and then the name Clippers came up, and I thought, ‘Well, that’s interesting,’ and you’d be amazed how — from that point on — I really kind of stepped back. Danny kind of did the talking and would report back to me. I didn’t talk to you or anybody, so I was kind of left out. It was really interesting.

“One thing I would like to make clear: There were never any threats. ‘If you don’t get me here, I’m not doing this.’ ‘I’m not coming back.’ There was never any of that. It was just kind of a negotiation with Danny and [Clippers president] Andy Roeser, and if it all worked out, then I would consider it. That’s basically where it went to, and the closer we got to this thing actually happening is the more I got interested in it.”

Still, both Rivers and Ainge believed they would continue working together until early this week.

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Danny Ainge tells his side of the Doc Rivers saga 06.26.13 at 12:39 am ET
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WALTHAM — While he wouldn’t go so far as to say Doc Rivers “quit” on the Celtics, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge expressed his disappointment in the coach’s decision to accept a job with the Clippers.

“Doc is one of the top coaches in the league, so that will be a difficult challenge,” Ainge said in Tuesday’s press conference. “My feelings are: I had planned on Doc being our coach all along. We had discussions about him being a Gregg Popovich, a Jerry Sloan, a Red Auerbach — breaking Red Auerbach’s all-time win record as a Celtic and being here for a long time — so I had never really thought about this day until May 8.”

Ainge scripted a clear timeline of what led to The Indecision this past week, when discussion with the Clippers about compensation for allowing Rivers to walk from the three years and $21 million left on his contract heated and cooled several times. Ultimately, Ainge landed an unprotected 2015 first-round pick for Rivers.

  • May 3: The Celtics lost to the Knicks, and to Ainge’s surprise Rivers expressed concern about returning.
  • May 8: Ainge approached a still hesitant Rivers, who asked what his options might be moving forward.
  • May 9: The Celtics sent Rivers a letter alerting the coach they expected him to fulfill his contract.
  • “In subsequent weeks”: A still uncertain Rivers expressed to Ainge his interest in the Clippers’ opening.

“And even then, it was so early after the season, I didn’t think it was really going to happen until [Monday],” said Ainge. “We really never were close to a deal with the Clippers in spite of the reports, so I think that this is part of the business. I don’t want to get too emotional. Doc’s going to a great situation — a place he chose to go and a place he wants to be. It’s not a place that I chose for him to go or a place that I want him to be.”

Ainge thanked his former coach for nine years of service to the Celtics and admitted, “We don’t have a championship without Doc Rivers in 2008,” but also made it clear that this was very much not his preference.

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