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Danny Ainge: 2012 NBA Draft ‘will be better’ 06.22.11 at 3:49 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Danny Ainge has crafted a reputation as a GM who isn’t afraid to wheel and deal. Just don’t expect it Thursday night. So, in other words Celtics fans, be patient.

The Celtics president of basketball operations said Wednesday that he doesn’t foresee trading his two draft picks on Thursday to move up for an elite position in the NBA Draft. The Celtics are currently slotted to select at position 25 in the first round and 55th overall in the second round.

“We don’t want to move next year’s pick to [move up] in this year’s draft because the picks we have aren’t good enough to get to the very, very top of the draft and we think next year’s draft will be better,” Ainge said.

The Celtics will get a 2012 first-round pick via their Feb. 24 trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder for Kendrick Perkins. It will be the less favorable pick from either the Minnesota Timberwolves or Los Angeles Clippers, and is “Top-10″ protected.

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Danny Ainge is realistic about the 2011 draft at 2:48 pm ET
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Danny Ainge (AP)

WALTHAM — On the eve of the 2011 NBA draft, Celtics president Danny Ainge said that it’s unlikely the team will find much help for the upcoming season with the 25th pick in the first round.

“When you’re drafting where we’re drafting, I’m not trying to put a negative spin on this, I’m trying to be realistic, the 25th pick in the draft is probably not going to help us, immediately,” Ainge said on Wednesday at the team’s training facility in Waltham. “But there are some players that we think can fit our roster, fit into the personality of our team and have a work ethic that can make our team better in practice and add depth to our roster.”

Ainge said that had no intention of trading the future Clippers pick that is top-10 protected through 2016 to move up in this year’s draft and agreed with the overall sentiment that this is a down year for talent. ‘The picks we have aren’t good enough to get to the very, very top of the draft and we think next year’s draft will be better,” Ainge said.

Here are some other items of interest from Wednesday’s media gathering that also included coach Doc Rivers:

On Rajon Rondo: “He’s not 100 percent yet,” Ainge said. “He’s probably about four weeks away from playing basketball at full speed, but he can do some training and conditioning right now.”

Rondo was running on a treadmill above the practice court at Waltham and wasn’t wearing any kind of a brace for his elbow that he dislocated in the playoffs. He turned down requests for an interview.

On Jermaine O’Neal: “He has every intention of coming back,” Ainge said. “Something could happen, that he won’t come back, but he has every desire to come back and play, and he didn’t like the way it finished this year. He doesn’t want to end his career on that kind of note, wants to be a much bigger contributor next year.”

O’Neal has been in Waltham getting treatment and working out and Ainge said that O’Neal decided not to have more surgery on his knee.

On Lawrence Frank, who has been a finalist for several head-coaching jobs: “Lawrence has interest in coming back,” Ainge said. “Lawrence will have an opportunity to coach, as you know, he’s been a top candidate in a lot of teams this year. We want Lawrence back. Lawrence will have options with other teams, too, he’s not under contract, so he has an option to explore all those options.”

Frank was also getting in some treadmill time.

Ainge also confirmed that free agent center Nenad Krstic has signed with CSKA Moscow and will not be back.

On possibly trading one of their core players: “We love our core group. I will just say this. I never tell players that I would never do anything like that,” Ainge said. “We have to keep our options open and explore. That’s my job. Our intention is to bring our core group back.”

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NBA mock draft roundup: Who the experts say the Celtics will select at 1:45 pm ET
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Some draft experts are predicting that Boston College guard Reggie Jackson will be the Celtics' first-round pick. (AP)

The 2011 NBA draft is scheduled for Thursday night, with the Celtics holding picks No. 25 (first round) and 55 (second round).

The Celtics have used the draft for players that have played a significant role in the team’s growth. They selected Paul Pierce in the first round back in 1998. They also selected Jeff Green in the first round of the 2007 draft before trading him to the SuperSonics in a deal that got the Celtics Ray Allen. Other notable Celtics draft picks of late include Avery Bradley and Luke Harangody last year, Ryan Gomes in 2005 and Al Jefferson, Delonte West and Tony Allen in 2004.

Many draft experts have weighed in with their thoughts about how this draft will play out, with no consensus on which direction the Celtics will go.

ESPN’s Chad Ford writes that the Celtics will take enigmatic center Jeremy Tyler. Tyler decided to try playing professional basketball in Israel after his junior year of high school in San Diego. It didn’t work out for him, so he took his talents to Japan to play in that country’s professional basketball league.

Noted Ford: “The Celtics are going to start rebuilding soon, and they need to hit a home run again the same way they did with Rajon Rondo. Tyler could be that guy. If he had played in college, he might have had a chance to be a top-10 pick with his talent.”

In the second round, Ford has the Celtics taking Jamine Peterson, a forward who played two seasons at Providence before jumping to the NBDL last year.

Sports Illustrated’s Sam Amick has the Celtics staying local and selecting Boston College guard Reggie Jackson. “Apparently, the Celtics aren’t concerned about Jackson’s minor knee surgery in mid-May, as a source insists he won’t get past Boston,” Amick wrote. “He would need some grooming, but the lengthy, two-way player could eventually be a dynamic option behind Rajon Rondo.”

Fox Sports’ mock draft has the Celtics taking forward Trey Thompkins out of Georgia at No. 25, noting that Thompkins has some solid offensive skills. “Thompkins is a highly skilled offensive player with a pretty jump shot and range out to the college 3. He doesn’t wow you with athleticism, but his skill level is that of an NBA vet. He has struggled some this year without a playmaker setting him up, but remains a refined big man with solid potential.”

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NBA Draft’s potential Celtics: Purdue F JaJuan Johnson at 11:12 am ET
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Purdue's JaJuan Johnson has a 7-2 wingspan on his 6-10 frame. (AP)

WEEI.com continues to provide daily insight and analysis on the 2011 NBA draft. This is one in a series of profiles of players who might be available for the Celtics to select with one of their two picks (25th and 55th overall).

JaJuan Johnson

Position: Forward

School: Purdue

Height: 6-foot-10

Weight: 220 pounds

Stats: 20.5 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 2.3 bpg

What he brings: One of the better athletes in this year’s draft class, Johnson is an impressive leaper who excels in the open court. He is an above-the-rim player and scores a lot of his points on dunks.

Already tall for 6-10, Johnson brings a 7-2 wingspan and excellent shot-blocking ability. He also appears to have put on 5-10 pounds of muscle since finishing his senior year. Johnson has an adequate jumper and can knock down open shots. He will have to put in extra work to extend his range to the NBA 3-point line.

He needs to improve on his post game. Though he has developed a right-handed hook, Johnson is much more threatening with the ball driving towards the rim than in the low post.

Where the Celtics could get him: First round

What they’re saying: “He’s come a long way. He started out as just a skinny kid that could jump. Now he can score. He can rebound. He can block shots. He’s improved every part of his game.”  Illinois center Mike Tisdale

Notes: Johnson was a 2011 consensus first team All-American, the Big Ten Player of the Year and the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. He also won the Pete Newell Big Man Award.

Video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPzSTWi_jd4&feature=fvsr

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Georgia Tech G Iman Shumpert at 9:50 am ET
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WEEI.com continues to provide daily insight and analysis on the 2011 NBA draft. This is one in a series of profiles of players who might be available for the Celtics to select with one of their two picks (25th and 55th overall).

Georgia Tech guard Iman Shumpert was unable to demonstrate his full potential with a struggling Georgia Tech team last season. (AP)

Iman Shumpert

Position: Guard

School: Georgia Tech

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 212 pounds

Stats: 17.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg 3.5 apg, 2.7 spg

What he brings: Shumpert used his length and athleticism to become one of the ACC’s premier defenders last year, and his quickness makes him very effective in transition and on the dribble-drive. The point guard was more of a facilitator his first two years but started attacking the basket more as a junior. Last year, he led a weak Yellow Jackets squad in most offensive categories, but consistent double-teams forced him into a team-high 72 turnovers. Without much of a supporting cast, Shumpert might not have been able to show his full offensive potential last year. If he can complement his athletic frame with improved shooting and decision-making, the Oak Park, Ill., product could become an asset on both ends of the floor.

Where the Celtics could get him: First or second round

What they’re saying: “He was in great shape, he was competitive, he worked out well [at last month's NBA draft combine]. He can be a Royal Ivey-type* big guard to come off the bench, be a distributor, that last-option scorer.” — NBA scouting director Ryan Blake

*In seven NBA seasons, Ivey has scored 3.5 points per game and averaged 12.7 minutes.

Notes: Shumpert’s 36.5-inch standing vertical leap at the NBA draft combine was the highest since Nick Young hit 39.5 inches in 2007. The 20-year-old played with the Jazz’ Derrick Favors in his first two years at Georgia Tech but tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he didn’t use Favors as much as he should have. Shumpert left his mark on Georgia Tech with a 22-point, 12-rebound, 11-assist, seven-steal performance against Virginia Tech last January, while holding the Hokies’ top scorer, Malcolm Delaney, to just eight points and eight turnovers.

Video:

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Illinois G Demetri McCamey at 7:10 am ET
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WEEI.com continues to provide daily insight and analysis on the 2011 NBA draft. This is one in a series of profiles of players who might be available for the Celtics to select with one of their two picks (25th and 55th overall).

Demetri McCamey shot a solid 45 percent from 3-point range for Illinois. (AP)

Demetri McCamey

Position: Guard

School: Illinois

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 200 pounds

Stats: 14.6 ppg, 6.1 apg, 3.4 rpg, .451 3pt%

What he brings: McCamey’s simultaneous strengths of strong 3-point shooting and solid passing make him a viable backup for both Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen. He has the size to back down smaller guards and the explosiveness to attack in the lane and get to the hoop. His lack of a mid-range jump shot contributed to his 45 percent shooting inside the arc.

Where the Celtics could get him: Second round

What they’re saying: “He can pass. He can shoot and he has mid-range. So that’s really the most difficult thing. … He’s got a big body, so he’s able to get leverage on people not just using speed but using that body. He can see over the top of screens because of his great vision and court awareness.” — Michigan coach John Beilein

Notes: McCamey scored in double figures 29 times, including seven 20-point games, and was the Illini’s top scorer in a team-leading 16 contests

Video:

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Washington G Isaiah Thomas at 7:04 am ET
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WEEI.com continues to provide daily insight and analysis on the 2011 NBA draft. This is one in a series of profiles of players who might be available for the Celtics to select with one of their two picks (25th and 55th overall).

Washington guard Isaiah Thomas has drawn comparisons to former Celtic Nate Robinson. (AP)

Isaiah Thomas

Position: Guard

School: Washington

Height: 5-foot-9

Weight: 185 pounds

Stats: 16.8 ppg, 6.1 apg, 3.5 rpg

What he brings: His lack of size (5-9) has drawn comparisons to former Huskies guard and current NBA player Nate Robinson. Thomas is most known for his ball handling. He is very good with the ball, using both hands, his natural left and his right. He is a pretty good shooter from the outside and has a nice arc on his shot. His height prevents him from having a major impact on the boards, but he does have quick reactions and is quick to loose balls. He is a very good on-ball defender as well, with quick feet.

Where the Celtics could get him: First round (or second)

What they’re saying: “He’s always been doubted because of his size, and this will be the ultimate experience for him to go out and obtain his goal.” — Washington coach Lorenzo Romar, on Thomas’ decision to leave school a year early

Notes: The Seattle Times ran a feature story on Thomas and his legacy at Washington. He leaves the school as the third all-time leading scorer in the program’s history. He was named after NBA legend Isiah Thomas, but his mother wanted his named spelled Isaiah because she wanted a biblical name. Thomas spent two years prepping at South Kent School in Connecticut.

Video:

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